Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

See sense.

THAT'S it. It's happened. It's been coming for a while but now at last common sense is completely dead.

It started getting ill with health and safety silliness and schools banning the egg and spoon race in case someone lost, and it suffered a dreadful blow when some bright spark decided that conkers could kill.

But since then general sensibleness has been repeatedly battered by the growth of total unsensibleness in every sector, part and deepest recesses of modern life.

I'm not being melodramatic. Consider the evidence: Tony Blair thought replacing politics with personality would make people more engaged with the way the country's run.

Instead voter turnout fell off a cliff and has been getting lower with every election since his win in 1997, for the simple reason that politicians' personalities are 95 per cent ego, four per cent fiddling and one per cent devoted to having stupid ideas and as a result something of a turn-off.

Thousands of people every year think they have a crack at being world-famous millionaires and have sex with other world-famous millionaires because of the way they sing. They don't stop to think the way they sing is awful, their attitude is worse and the conversion rate of prole-to-millionaire is much higher in accountancy than it is on the X Factor.

At the same time we've developed such short attention spans that when a major event happens - whether it's the London riots, the scandalous death of a child in care, or the closure of the News of the World - that there's one big social spasm and then we forget to wonder what caused it all to happen in the first place.

A dab of common sense would tell you the riots were provoked by gangs and joined in with by idiots, and that it's the problem with gangs we need to address not giving six-month sentences to girls who were stood next to someone who'd stolen some gum. It would tell you to sort out the care system and that successful world-changing newspapers don't usually get shut down because someone's been bad.

Millions of us use the internet for work and leisure every day yet there's barely any effort made to track down the badly-behaved unless their victims are high-profile. So the person who tweets racist abuse to England football players is investigated, the troll who threatened an MP gets a 26-week suspended sentence, and the ordinary Joe who is sent the same will try in vain to get their local bobby bothered enough to turn on his ZX Spectrum.

And if you take a look at what's in the news today it seems like common sense has not just been killed but had a stake driven through its heart and buried at a crossroads at midnight.

An accountant who made a joke is being prosecuted for it rather than applauded for doing something so un-accountanty. He lost his job and was fined almost £1,000 for making a throwaway remark which the Establishment decided was menacing, despite the presence of three exclamation marks.

At the same time the very top of the Establishment is shaking hands with an ex-terrorist who's not in the least bit menacing, because he's no longer second-in-command of an IRA unit and wandering around Derry with a sub-machine gun in his hand but is now second in command of Northern Ireland.

Never mind that we're already friends; never mind there's been reconciliation and apologies on both sides and the understated 'Troubles' are over; no, there must be further backwards bending for absolutely no obvious gain beyond making a little old lady shake hands with someone who served six months for carrying 250lb of explosives and 5,000 rounds of ammo, which is a lot more menacing than any tweet if you ask me.

We've also got an 18-year-old girl who's good enough to play at Wimbledon being nicknamed The Incredible Bulk because she's been working out; a Chancellor who reckons that knocking a potential £2.10 off the cost of filling up a family car is going to "fuel our recovery at this very difficult economic time", and the flipping Spice Girls going on about Girl Power while half of them aren't talking to each other and who could be persuaded into the same room only by the prospect of millions in revenue from a new musical.

And in response to this mess, in defiance of bureaucratic Nazis, twisted priorities and people doing their best to get things as wrong as they possibly can, what do we do to hit back? Nothing. Nothing but gnash our teeth or give a resigned shrug that this is just the way things are.

It doesn't need to be like this.

We can watch Simon Cowell and just not make a phone vote, which eventually will make it not worth his while and he'll stop. We can vote for the politicians who take sides and cause a stir, even if we don't agree with everything they say, just to prove we want people with principles in Parliament.

We can try to make ourselves have second thoughts again instead of just a retweet or a Facebook share, we can expect and demand everyone behave politely in public whether it's removing their feet from train seats, not spitting in the street or not sending abusive messages on the internet.

We can forgive all the wrongs on all sides of the Troubles without bending our knee to the people who took part in them, we can laugh in the Chancellor's face and not give the Spice Girls any more money, we can tell the flipping difference between a threat and a silly remark and more than anything else we can be proud there's an 18-year-old girl who's devoted and focused enough to get herself to Wimbledon.

Even if it is for only five minutes.

Let's try to see sense, even when it's hard to spot, because the harder we look the more we will see.

Otherwise it's goodnight Vienna.


Neev_ie said...

Oh Foxy, I could cry because you are totally right on every one of those points. I think we all feel very very powerless to do anything anymore.

Anonymous said...

another incisive and commonsensical review - have only recently had the pleasure of reading your work and I love it. Keep it coming Foxy!

Matt said...

All excpet one, we don't need to watch Simon Cowell at all.

Choose to watch something which entertains and enlightens instead of a show that points at those who cannot sing/have no talent and say 'laugh at the feak'.

(See also Big Brother, TOWIE et al).

Anonymous said...

All so true and so well written it brings a tear to the eye.

Neev_ie said...

That one goes without saying for me. I would rather gouge out my eyes.

mrswupple said...

You're absolutely right once again. Be careful, you may get one of those newspaper columns.

The Auld Phart said...

"ZX Spectrum"

Ooh, you computer nerd you! :)

davis said...

All true, there's no margin for common sense any more, very sad !

SoupWaiter said...

Now I see why babbling blog ranters are able to call themselves "citizen journalists" or internet journalists, whatever it is. Its because the official press has sunk to the level of a babbling blog rant, like this piece here.

No you don't compare the closure of NOTW to the death of a child, yes "The Incredible Bulk" is cheap schoolboy garbage - served up by your peers. I don't think viewer figures of parliament are going to overtake singing and dancing shows, ever, and you don't either so stop pretending that your target audience is somehow better than the majority of the country. It isn't, it's worse, a self-righteous smug minority, shunned and disliked.

How can you call this common sense? You propose that we treat Ireland's leaders with different protocols to highlight their past, is this how you reconcile differences with your friends or family? By constantly reminding them of what they did wrong. It's not common sense it's utter garbage, gutter press transfered to the blogosphere.

Foxy said...

Ok chum.

1) I'm not a citizen journalist, but I'm a citizen and also a journalist.

2) I didn't compare the closure of the NOTW to the death of a child, but I did compare the public reactions to those two things as the spasms created by the death of Baby P and that paper were similar in effect if not cause. And you could probably compare the causes, if I could be bothered and had the time.

3) I talked about electoral turnout, not viewing figures for Parliamentary TV.


5) My family have never blown anyone up.

Anonymous said...


Izzy said...

The reality tv shows like BGT, X Factor etc are essentially modern day freak shows. In the 19th century people enjoyed going to public galleries to watch very badly disfigured or disabled people for their amusement. It sounds a bit extreme but I hope people will know what I mean when I say it seems like the same basic principle. After a while they'd cringe a bit and look away, same way we do.

Anonymous said...

Common sense isn't dead. You've just picked a few things that are a bit shit and attempted to extrapolate the death of society as a result.

As for the McGuinness/Liz-II handshake, it's impossible to have paid any attention to the politics of Northern Ireland over the last 40-odd years and not view that as an extraordinary moment.

SoupWaiter said...

I know you're a journalist, I meant that you writing at this level gives otherwise unwarranted legitimacy to the term "citizen journalist".

I didn't say your family has blown anyone up, but if they had you wouldn't try to reconcile with them by remininding them about it every day.

the rest is argumentative.

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