One of the stand out advantages that comes with living in the middle of nowhere is the visible lack of newspapers and news. “The News”, as in a newspaper or in a television or radio programme, has become a misnomer because “news” is “old” nearly instantly. Each tiny event appears on billions of phone or computer screens in real time, often accompanied by pictures and film that were produced by another phone near the epicentre of that particular newsworthy moment. Not having a phone of that calibre, I am not blighted with continual updates of mankind’s progress through this vale of fears.
Newspapers do exist here and my neighbour, Fernand, takes delivery, each morning, of the “Ouest France”. This paper has the highest readership in France and cleverly avoids mentioning the rest of the world. It deals with the affairs of the people of West France, from Britanny to Bordeaux. Aside from village fêtes agriculture and local news there will be moments of high drama such as when a coaster is swept onto the beach at Sables d’Olonne, which is in truth higher drama to the local people than North Korea’s threat of thermo nuclear war as there is fuck all that they can do to counter the madness of the nutters in Pyongyang, but a picture of the beach, where they’d had a picnic last summer, now published with a bloody great steamer in the middle of it, has some relevance. I don’t read “Ouest France” except when I’m having coffee with Fernand and Jeanette in their kitchen. The paper is normally open at births and deaths so I have to turn to the front page to see the big news where I may be surprised by the biggest Charolais bull or a picture of the leader in the Vendée Globe.
Once upon a time, a very short time ago, there was a choice of newspapers. One could choose between light or serious, left or right. As society moved forwards with “big bangs”, and the like, it became apparent that left and right didn’t matter as society had become ambidextrous due to its disenchantment with duplicity and, equally, that no one was interested in reading the serious papers: so they became lighter and lighter until they were daft. So Pyongyang now sits between bronzed breasts and quick suppers, and really, there’s nothing to worry about. The paper will never be dead!