The World at Large: Old news.

Some stories just won’t go away. This one about OJ Simpson whittling down every last shred of credibility he has is one of those stories; I’m not sure whether he’s incredibly stupid or in serious need of therapy. I’m not saying he is a murderer, but if he isn’t, his efforts to completely undermine his position constitute a sort of deathwish. It’s a long drawn-out saga of a man completely off the rails.

A woman completely off the rails, on the other hand, is Britney Spears, who has really been having a tough time of it recently. On top of all the other things she’s had to cope with — going into rehab, losing custody of her children, being panned by critics — she’s had the indignity of being caught driving without a valid licence. Hang on, I hear you cry, surely that was Paris Hilton. Well, it did happen to Paris, yes, but then Britney went and did exactly the same thing. It’s all getting rather predictable and repetitive.

Predictable and repetitive is also the Diana story which has resurfaced yet again, as an inquest begins into her death and her boyfriend’s father takes offence and complains that it’s biased even before it’s begun. Cue never-before-seen photos of Diana and Dodi in a car with bodyguard and chauffeur, splashed all over the front pages by the tabloids — ironically, given that one of the biggest questions surrounding Dianagate is whether the couple were hounded to death by the paparazzi. Absolutely not, say the paparazzi, and then chase Prince William and his girlfriend at high speed through the streets of London. (Well, probably they did; at least one serious correspondant at the scene claimed otherwise.)

Just like the good old days.

In other news, the Cold War is hotting up again. The Russian authorities have more or less banned any TV channel or newspaper that dares criticize Putin, started sending warplanes to spook US forces, apparently poisoned at least one of their spies in a plot Ian Fleming would have found improbable, developed a non-nuclear weapon that is every bit as devastating as a nuclear weapon, and generally said things about America and the West which are, frankly, not very nice. Of course, he can’t be President for more than two consecutive terms, but he can become Prime Minister and appoint the next President, which is what he is apparently intent on. And when he stops being Prime Minister he can go back to being President for another two terms, because that’s allowed. Gosh, it’s just like the good old days.

There’s a depressing familiarity about all of this, as the same headlines pop up with alarming regularity. In fact, you could probably run a newspaper for a couple of years with just a small selection of recycled headlines:

  • Female blonde celebrity arrested
  • Cartoons spark Islamic protests
  • US clamps down on terrorists
  • Russia points missile at the US
  • Gordon Brown makes speech, says nothing
  • Conservatives ahead in polls
  • Conservatives behind in polls
  • Conservatives ahead again
  • Scientists say something worrying about climate change
  • Soccer: Germany win
  • Cricket: England collapse

In fact, I am no beginning to wonder. Do these things the papers keep telling us about really happen, or is everything all made up and they’re running out of ideas?

Browse more archived articles