I usually write about something that has got to me in the news. It's always a struggle for a couple of reasons. Quite apart from my incredible love for laziness and disdain for forward planning, much to the despair of The Gateway's editorial team, there's the fact that I barely read the news. I could try to moan about what the media has become, but it'd all be made up. I'd spool prose about how the news used to be solid fact. The educated population could take these Fabergé eggs of knowledge produced by noble journalists and make informed decisions about their daily lives. It seems to me, however, that in the cruel modern world we live in, media output is cooked up according to a recipe of one part fact to eight parts celebrity and a little pinch of asking nobodies their opinions.
On my biweekly check-in to BBC News and other similar works of fiction, it's always heartwarming to look at the "most read" section. At a time when the news is awash with suicide threats, bombings at home and abroad, famous legless men being accused of murder, the sliding of global stocks, and countless tax avoiders, the most read article is about Prince Phillip being himself.
Uncle Phil has natural charisma and mostly wanders through the breezy meadow of elderly charm, but sometimes trips into what most rational people would call racism. He'd never have said in a hospital with French employees: "Is there anyone left in France?" (If he did, I imagine the outcry would be Daily Express-led, something along the lines of: "Diana died in France, WHY are the French here?")
His attitudes aren't what intrigue me though. Instead, I find myself wondering why we find an elderly man acting entirely within his character so fascinating? Why do we read that over the story of a man who has overcome everything to become an Olympian and Paralympian, only to go and mess it all up. If I were a journalist, I'd be over the moon about the Oscar Pistorius affair. A famous man is alleged to have done something terrible and nobody except for him will ever know with certainty what happened. I wouldn't get out of bed - you could ask a child what they thought and publish it. I'd outsource my craft to playgroups, get the blighters working. It's a shame journalists generally aren't as creative as children, as there's real potential here. Sources could say that they saw snakes rise from burning pits in Hades and weave up his prosthesis, enveloping his torso, his neck, his whole head. And then the gunshots. Naught remained but a lone, shaking figure.
It should make me glad that the news is such a fickle transcript. With the nation's culture increasingly based on having an opinion instead of fact, has it ever been easier to get ahead? That's why I've given up on the news. When I find myself being drawn into that world, I remind myself of the most famous accountants and the most prolific management consultants. They're nameless. Even Google can't help me. Perhaps it's aspirational narcissism, but I think the secret to real success is to embrace constipation, news-wise anyway.