Things I Have Learned From / Noticed In A Two Day Old Copy Of The Independent
Because this site is nothing if not up-to-the-minute and topical.
1. The front page is emblazoned with the headline "Cracktown, UK" above a picture of a big pile of crack cocaine. "Cracktown"? That sounds like where Big Ears would take Noddy for his stag do. Actually, it's Ilkeston in Derbyshire, a fact that takes on particular significance for me as it's the place that a couple of friends call home. "The majority of clients we see are using crack as a treat on payday", says drugs counsellor Karen Hancock. Though the article might initially seem like Daily Mail type scaremongering, it's not written in the sort of judgemental and hysterical tone you'd expect from Dacre and co.
2. There's evident relish in the reporting of Sun editor Rebekah Wade's arrest for assault (the Sun, meanwhile, managed to keep almost completely quiet on the subject - perhaps they'd been taking tips from MUTV?). The fact that Steve McFadden's ex was also arrested for an attack on him seems rather suspicious - offer her some money to deflect attention away from yourself, did you Rebekah? Or did the BBC offer the pair of you money to get the Mitchell brothers back in the news following their shameless rating-chasing return to 'EastEnders'? Thing is, they don't exactly come out of it with their hard man images intact, do they?
3. Apparently the Pope has changed his tailor and it's caused quite a furore. Fascinating I'm sure, but do that and the aforementioned story about Ms Wade really merit being placed ahead of the piece about Labour's skin-of-their-teeth Commons victory over the proposed anti-terror legislation? I think not.
4. Respect MP George Galloway missed the ballot (which Labour won by one vote) "because he was in Ireland for a performance of his one-man show" entitled "An Audience With George Galloway MP". Far be it from me to suggest that the man's a self-serving egotist. In any case, I imagine "An Audience With Lily Savage" would have been much more entertaining.
5. The MTV Europe Awards were presented by Borat Sagdiyev, "the spoof television presenter played by the risque comedian Sacha Baron Cohen". Risque? Comedian? What year do the Independent think it is? They'll be bigging up Avid Merrion next.
6. If, like me, you live in Birmingham, you can sleep soundly now - Babu the red panda has been found and taken back his home at Birmingham Nature Centre. Looking more like an overgrown tree-dwelling stoat than a panda, Babu was spotted in Holders Lane Woods. No idea where that is exactly, but I'm guessing from the caption beneath the accompanying picture - "Babu the red panda spent four days living alone in the wilds of Birmingham" - that it must be somewhere near Lozells. After four days he was no doubt ecstatic to be returned to captivity.
7. A nauseatingly fawning article about Damon Albarn. "The man who blurs boundaries"? Hmm. Am I the only person who really dislikes Gorillaz?
Yet to read (yes, yes, I know - two days after the event): an interview with New Yorkers The National (much talked up in certain quarters) and a special pull-out feature by Jonathon Porritt entitled "How Capitalism Can Save The World".
OK then, I know what you're thinking: "I should have just stuck with Musings From Middle England for this kind of thing..."