“…perhaps some kind of low-grade sensational fiction will survive, produced by a sort of conveyor-belt process that reduces human initiative to a minimum.”—George Orwell foresaw Dan Brown as far back as 1946.
By a sad coincidence, last week I said that the headline “Foot heads arms body” was probably apocryphal. Not at all. I have since heard from Martyn Cornell, who was a subeditor on the Times around 1986.
He had to handle a story about Michael Foot being put in charge of a committee to look at nuclear disarmament in Europe, or something similar. The headline was to be in largish type, but across a single column – always a problem for subs.
"I certainly wasn’t going to get ‘nuclear’ or ‘disarmament’ or ‘committee’ to fit, so after a struggle I decided on ‘Foot chairs arms body’, then thought ‘Foot heads arms body’ would at least give a laugh to the revise sub. To my astonishment, the headline was printed, and a legend was born …"
Andrew Kyle remembers a vogue for making longer and longer headlines from the same base. “Assuming Foot had become PM, and had discovered that his defence secretary had approved the bullying tactics of the National Front, the headline could have been ‘Foot knows arms body head backs front muscle’.”
The killer of Jamie Bulger should not receive a lower form of justice than any of us
Jon Venables has allegedly committed an offence which breaks the terms of his license and therefore returns him to prison, having served just 8 years as a juvenile for his part in the murder of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993. Venables and co-perpetrator Robert Thompson were just 10 at the time.
I cannot imagine the stress, strain and sorrow that Bulger’s mother, Denise Fergus, has been through in the preceding 17 years. But an important point to remember is that victims and their relatives are not the “go-to” people for opinions on justice. A fair judgement cannot be made by someone who has been hurt or damaged. It’s a conflict of interest.
Fergus feels that she has a right to know what crime Venables is alleged to have committed. She does not. None of us do.
“Let’s face it: if you discovered he doesn’t have a belly button or any pubic hair, and spends one night each week lying semi-conscious, face-down, “recharging” inside a giant white laboratory pod filled with amniotic fluid, you wouldn’t be entirely surprised.”—Charlie Brooker on David Cameron (The Guardian G2, 8th March)