A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times

Sundays, so the billboards and TV adverts would have us believe, just wouldn’t be Sundays without the Sunday newspapers.

            Just recently, in a daring experiment, mainly brought on by abstract poverty due to the recent credit crunch, at a secret address in deepest Rawtenstall, I and four other researchers (1 female & 3 cats) spent two consecutive Sundays without Sunday newspapers of any description. Our conclusion, arrived at with no small risk to ourselves and our property, and published here for the very first time (unless it has already been serialised by the Sunday papers), is that without Sunday newspapers, Sunday IS still Sunday. Even more so in fact.

            Now I fully realise that the above statement may brand me as a heretic and pervert, and in preparation for the contempt and outrage that my confession may cause, I have already changed my name by deed poll and have had my appearance considerably altered (I cleaned my teeth and underwear). I trust the public to understand my side of the story as I tell it, and will now frankly, sincerely and fearlessly reveal all.

            You see, I used to get the two higher class versions of the Sunday newspapers. Mainly because I regarded those two papers as sources of unimpeachable information, highly informed aesthetic education and incorruptible moral instruction – a bit like a combination of the Holy Bible and the Yellow Pages. Somehow I felt that once they had landed on my doormat (bruising it beyond repair); they just had to be read. Like a subpoena or a summons, they demanded total compliance. I felt that if I did not plod my way through the one and a half tonnes of features and criticism, I would stand condemned. I was afraid something really awful would happen to me or my family. Maybe perhaps a tell tale mark would appear on my forehead branding me forever as ONE WHO HAS NOT READ HIS SUNDAYS, and that, as a consequence, no one would ever talk to me on Mondays ever again. As it happens no one talks to me on Mondays anyway, nor on any other day of the week for that matter, and it would have been nice to be able to blame my ostracism on this mark of Judas nestling above my eyebrows, but that’s another story.

            So, in fear of becoming more of a pariah than I was already, I would force myself to studiously read through every single one of the twenty thousand or so word reports on this, that or the other and at the end of reading such articles, I would feel highly intelligent, well informed, enlightened and equipped with an in depth overview of the world. Ten minutes later though, as hard as I would try to, I couldn’t remember any of it. Not a single word. Travelling into work on a Monday would then become a hellish nightmare. I was afraid that all my colleagues would each realise that my grasp of the world’s events was tenuous, if not totally lacking, in its complete absence.

            It was just the same with the literary and arts sections. The more I read, the more aware I was about what I didn't know. I felt guilty about what I hadn’t read before and still don’t know now. After time, even the adverts began to worry me. I became concerned about how I measured up to the other people that read these papers. I didn’t seem to need a sit down tractor to mow the lawn and hoe the orchard. I didn’t need a solar heating plant for my swimming pool or even one of those things you can hang inside a wardrobe for if you had more than thirty pairs of shoes. I checked the front of the newspaper to see if I had been sent the 'Overseas Tax Exile' edition by mistake. I began to feel like I was trespassing, that I was an intellectual pretender, laying claim to acres of highbrow upper class newsprint to which I had no real right.

            So, we cancelled our usual papers and opted to try the certain ‘other’ newspapers. These ‘other’ papers were filled with confessions and lurid scandal. I read about randy schoolteachers and sex-starved cinema usherettes who spent most of their waking lives sleeping with each other. I read about a retired bank robber whose pelvic organs had been re-sculpted by an alcoholic plastic surgeon and he had never looked back. I read about an ageing insurance broker whose wife, to judge by the blurry photo, was a right old minger, but still managed to have an affair with a magistrate, the guard on the Inter-City 125 to York (and all the passengers), the staff of the North Thames Water Board, and the three policemen who came to see what all the noise was about.

            And then I sat back and wondered why these so-called 'popular' papers sold so well. The answer came to me with the simplicity of genius: They were absolutely fascinating. As most people already know, the best thing next to sex, is more sex. And if it isn't yours, then it may as well be someone else's. And since most people find it difficult to occupy their entire Sunday in sexual gratification of their own devising, they may as well read about some other person's. The thing that I couldn't understand was why, with all these wonderful and lurid stories so freely available in the gutter press, so many people still bothered with the higher class Sundays? If other people's sweaty business under the duvet is so riveting (and as a popular sexual fetish, rivets now rank just below rubber and leather and two points above Spam), why does anyone bother about the Pre-Raphaelites or the Post-Impressionists in the elitist press?

            The conclusion was inescapable. The only difference between the highbrow and lowbrow paper readers, was the status of the people whose bedtime antics they read about. It was the same the whole world over: It's the rich what gets the pleasure and everyone else what reads about it. It was then when all Sunday newspapers were dutifully cancelled and I tried to rediscover the true and natural meaning of Sunday for myself. By ten o'clock on my first paperless Sunday, I had made many exciting discoveries. I found out my partner's name and that we had three cats, not just one. I found that the spare room needed re-papering, the bathroom tiles needed re-grouting, the sofa needed re-upholstering, the kitchen needed more cupboards and the glazing needed doubling.

            By the end of the second Sunday I had cultivated a renovation schedule unmatched in size and scale, to that of the whole of the American Space Programme. And that is when I suddenly remembered why we have Sunday newspapers, be they either sordid or salubrious: They are a convenient and useful substitute for real life and the intellectual equivalent of hibernation or suspended animation in liquid nitrogen. And they come with free DVDs to boot. What better excuse could we possibly ever find for prevarication of all shapes and sizes?    
            Nowadays my attitude is clear and straightforward ... Without the Sunday newspapers, Sundays would, if we are not careful, be Sundays. B&Q and DIY’ism would be king. Filling all A & E departments around the country with tales of disaster and mass extermination ... Hold the Press!!

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1 Comment:

  1. Gord Wait said...

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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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