|The Early Days of a Better Nation|
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I found lots to disagree with the Indy about over the years, but that was part of its appeal. After the paper adopted what became its (understandably unique) selling point, the single-issue pictorial front page (polar bear, penguin, starving child, heroin syringe, baby seal, smoking chimney, polar bear polar polar bear polar bear will you please just sod off and drown you smelly seal-chewing top predator where was I?) I still stuck with it. Even after Johann Hari revealed that for years he'd been popping anti-depressants that made him unable to see the downside of anything he thought was a good idea at the time (which explained, a little too late for a lot of dead brown people, his drum-banging for the attack on Iraq), I blinked back the red mist. When its hard-pressed science editor explained that nanoparticles are a problem because they're so small that they no longer obey the laws of physics, I spluttered Crunchy Oats over the page and turned to the next. I went on buying the paper every day, but I read it mainly for the columnists, which was just as well because there was less and less actual news in it.
It was one of the columnists who finally did it for me. Bruce Anderson, the (predictably ex-Trot) Tory the paper keeps on a string in the back yard, wrote a column defending torture, yelping excitedly over the ticking bomb scenario as if it were a new, fresh, insightful thought experiment and running with it all the way to torturing not only Mr Alarm-Clock but also - should that fail to get results - Mrs Alarm-Clock and all the little Alarm-Clocks.
At this point it became difficult to hold the breakfast down.
So, with some embarrassment, I crawled back to the Guardian, and you know what? It's good. It's so good I don't have time to read all the good bits. Still infuriating and smug, mind you, but at least it doesn't keep banging on about polar bears.
Now the Indy has been bought by a former KGB man, in close association with the former General Secretary of the CPSU. This means it might become interesting again, but for me it's too little, too late.