OK I’ll own up I’ve been looking again at the classified ads in this week’s “Guardian”. “Adult Services” on page 85. It’s academic research by the way.
A couple of the ads caught my eye. “Rosie – New to E17” She claims to be a good listener and an easy chat with .....”wheelchair access.” Or what about “Attractive recently divorced female, not long in the area, seeks broad minded males, any age/size.” So many questions, so much promise!
Reading these ads first puts me in a happy frame of mind before I plunge into the miasma of misery that is local journalism. Why do I buy the rag? What can it offer me other than trite stories about young kids and old ladies, and the local “Amdram”, and a catalogue of crime and vandalism?
This week’s paper is awash with the follow up to the two knifings in Waltham Forest. It’s not nice, it’s disturbing there’s no getting away from that. Two young coloured men knifed, both have died. I’m not complaining about the coverage or the way the paper handled the stories. It’s there to sell copies, so when a dramatic event takes place on its patch it going to make the most of it. However, coupled with the other crime stories in the Guardian you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re living in downtown Harare or Johannesburg.
But we’re not. We live in a rundown part of London facing many difficulties, but in general we appear to carry on our daily lives in a sensible way. We’re so scandalised by the two killings because it is so unusual. That is the right response. Not fear or revenge or lashing out or calling for draconian treatment or blaming one section of the community or society. And reading the Guardian’s coverage – that’s how it was reported. Factual, sympathetic, measured and honestly expressing uncertainty about the cause of this type of behaviour and any solution . Well done “Guardian”.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t welcome one week when the paper restrained from publishing crime stories. Maybe giving the paper over to an in-depth report into the lives of Rosie and the other inhabitants of page 85 of the Guardian, who bring such relaxation, joy and pleasure to their clients?