Things you’ll never know.
TODAY I heard someone complain “the news tells us too many things”.
Let’s leave aside what that statement tells us about the average adult concentration span in 21st century Britain, and concentrate on the logic.
The news, as far as most people are aware, is supposed to tell us lots of things. That’s the point – that you can sit down with a paper, or in front of the telly or listen to the radio, and in 10 minutes or so get a little download of everything that’s going on in the world. This enables freedom and democracy and choice and means we know what’s going on in Syria where a British-educated ophthalmologist is shooting people who disagree with him.
(Thus finally explaining why I have always been terrified of having eye tests.)
Changes in society mean we are now seeing news we did not a few years ago. There are just as many paedophiles as there have always been in the population, but whereas those court cases weren’t reported much because they were deemed too unpleasant they now appear quite regularly, giving the impression to any passing aliens that sexual abuse of children has massively increased in the past decade or so. It hasn’t, it’s just that we know about it now.
And because people are weird and put all kinds of stuff on the internet we’re now used to seeing shaky mobile phone footage of home-made sex videos, tyrants being dragged through the streets, soldiers at battle and Japanese businessmen doing unspeakable things with laxatives. Political and sporting scandals have worn public morality away while we sit around at the weekends waiting for someone to have a nervous breakdown on the X Factor and secretly wishing for the innocent days of Blankety Blank.
Things do not shock us as much any more – and because shock gets readers and ratings, the hunt never ends for something new to make someone turn to their mate and say “F*** me, Doris! Have you seen this?”
But there are still many things you will never be told. A lot of my job is editing information I have gathered down to the paragraphs which will interest you while cutting out those that won’t or will contravene someone’s idea of decency; most stories you read in the newspapers are 70 per cent of the truth we know, but 100 per cent of all we can prove or print.
For example, here are some things you will never see reported and for very good reason:
* Keira Knightley in a short skirt (she has stumpy legs).
* An accurate description of the smell made by a decomposing body. It’s sweet but disgusting. I’d say it was like drinking Jagermeister the morning after but it sounds too flippant – it’s a million times worse.
* That almost every case of child abuse involves a family member. Reporting this fact would mean that, to preserve the anonymity of the victim, the abuser would also have to be anonymous. Most papers quite rightly choose to name and shame the culprit for abusing ‘a child’ while not reporting it was their own. A surprising number are mums, and most of them are too thick to tie a shoelace.
* The agreements between PRs and journalists to publish information which is perfectly accurate but will be utterly denied by their showbiz client once the story breaks. Sometimes even after they’ve received money to do an interview in the first place, the hypocritical little toads.
* A gun is surprisingly quiet when fired directly into a head.
* That pretty much every politician, thanks to a diet of coffee and meetings and subsidised booze, has bad breath. Eric Pickles smells like an open-air morgue in the tropics.
* Most famous people aren’t cash-rich – once you have management, staff, houses, a couple of addictions and some crime family is into you for £100k you’ll find your money disappears from your accounts just as quickly as it does for a mum-of-two in Margate. A lot of celebs rely on freebies. Some subsist on a diet of canapes and champagne just like showbiz reporters do, and are far more grasping when it comes to the goodie bags.
* The 99 per cent of court cases which don’t make the news because it’s the same troubling people doing the same thing they were caught for last week and no-one has the faintest idea how to stop it.
* ‘Community campaigners’ normally have stinky houses.
* The names of the impoverished Russian women whose hair decorates the head of Cheryl Tweedy and the rest of her pretty-but-pointless ilk.
* Lizzie Jagger doesn’t believe in deodorant.
And now that you do know those things, are you any the better for it? Probably not. Which is why, generally, we don’t tell you.
But perhaps we ought to say more often that being rich and famous and thin doesn’t make everyone happy.
No body’s perfect.
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