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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Slaves to the Untruth

It's been too long since my last post, mainly due to a combination of the ongoing work on the third Quinton novel and a fantastic holiday on the Nile. I thought I'd return to the blogosphere by talking about the temples at Abu Simbel or sailing aboard a felucca on the Nile at Aswan, or else by analysing my recent reading. Hopefully I'll get round to doing all of that in the near future, when I hope to update this blog more regularly. First, though, a bit of a rant...

I listen to BBC Radio Five Live quite a lot. I like its regular news and sport updates, plus some of its programming; but I detest its morning diet of mind-numbing phone-ins and above all its army of smug, patronising, metrocentric presenters. I thought the final nail in the station's coffin was the departure of the erudite Simon Mayo (on four days a week, at any rate), but not so. Just before midday on Sunday, a group of studio guests were discussing Cameron's visit to the USA and one remarked casually that Gordon Brown had given Obama a present of a pen-holder made from the timber of a slave ship. Cue much laughter from her fellow right-ons, one of whom then repeated the comment. Presumably the fact that this 'statement' was broadcast on national radio now means that there are several thousand more people who believe it than there were before this show went out. I've also seen this statement made in a few blogs, the authors of whom are presumably morons and/or have political agendas, so presumably the lazy Five Live contributors picked it up from such sources and couldn't be bothered to check in more detail in such obscure, inaccessible sources as Wikipedia. Countless other blogs - including ironically many that are anti-Obama - get the story right, so just for the record - the pen-holder was made from the timber of HMS Gannet, which was a late-Victorian gunboat  involved in a number of anti-slavery patrols. So far from proving that Gordon Brown was a tactless idiot, the presentation of the pen-holder actually puts the former PM in a good light, and a far better light than the president, who reciprocated with a cheap box set of DVDs.

So to correct my earlier statement, I used to listen to Five Live quite a lot; I think I might have reached that seminal turning point in life called the 'Radio Four moment'. Because let's face it, there's only one word for the statement about the 'slave ship', as broadcast on what used to be a cherished and dependable national institution: and that word is 'lie'.

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