It's a pretty typical day for the Mail. The first thing that strikes you is the "So what?" box, where hard-hitting picture journalism finds its online home. Today's big three "so what?" stories include Cameron Diaz's upcoming bit on Top Gear, Danielle Lineker getting what appears to be a fairly minor haircut, and Shakira doing a sexy photoshoot. It occurs to me that pictures of Shakira dancing and stretching are spectactularly unlikely to give me the hit of depression I'm chasing, so it's time to scroll down. Although I may be back later.
Ah, this is more like it: Magistrate is forced to apologise for saying migrant 'abused our hospitality'. See, it turns out that the Office for Judicial Complaints has just released a 56-page report detailing various complaints made about the conduct of judges over the previous year. Buried deep in the middle of this report are a number of case studies with examples of things judges have had a ticking-off about. One of them relates to a judge who "had used words in open court with regard to a non-British defendant, that could have been construed as displaying prejudice against them for not being British, including saying, “We take exception to people coming to our shores and abusing our hospitality”". He wasn't sacked, or tarred and feathered for this, and it's not clear what the full comments were (the word "including" suggests there were more). However, the Mail is predictably angry, because, well, you can't even say anything about the foreigners anymore, just because you're in a highly sensitive job where the consistent appearance of impartiality is paramount!
Further down, I'm struck by two stories which appear to be news stories largely because of the sex of the people involved, a fact the Mail helpfully highlights with BLOCK CAPITALS in its headlines. So we get Dead at 28, the youngest MAN in Britain to get breast cancer (a MAN, no less!), and the more light-hearted Moment a TV host got the hots for Mad Men's Christina Hendricks (but this time, it was a WOMAN presenter), which brings us the not-at-all startling revelation that even some women (sorry, WOMEN) would quite like to have sex with Christina Hendricks. MAIL ONLINE REPORTER paints quite a picture here, one-handedly typing phrases like "curvaceous beauty" and "she placed her hand seductively on Christina's leg", as the anticipation builds. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of papers like the Mail, news reporting remains tenuously chained to events that happen in reality, and so the story ends with nothing much of note happening, instead of escalating into the frenzied lesbian romp you might have just unzipped for. "CURSE YOU, REALITY!", we hear MAIL ONLINE REPORTER yell, before taking a cold shower and going off to write about an unusually big-toothed rabbit.
Back to the misery then, and we're treated to a classic "Now" headline in the glittering form of Now you pay for prison parties: Tory minister says taxpayer must fund balls and comedy workshops for criminals, which reports a Tory minister very obviously not saying that. Still, the headline is a beauty; "Now" at the beginning to build up our sense of panic about where our runaway handcart is headed today, unnecessarily invoking the TAXPAYER to remind you that YOU, yes YOU actually have to pay taxes which sometimes FUND things that don't even get your bloody bins emptied.
The story is quite interesting really. A while ago, a ban on certain types of prisoner taking part in certain types of activity was knocked into place by the wildly jerking knee of Jack Straw, after some bad publicity about an imprisoned terrorist who apparently enrolled in a stand-up comedy class or something. One of the great ironies of the last few years in politics is that the right-wing press consistently portrayed New Labour as an arrogant, out-of-touch, PC institution a million miles removed from the concerns of the middle classes and the self-professed silent majority (who ironically never seem to shut the fuck up). In fact, towards the end of their reign, Labour became insanely keen to appear tough on crime and immigration, and ended up tossing out all kinds of illiberal legislation in a pointless attempt to placate Mail-readers and their ilk, a ploy which didn't even fucking work. So, Tory prisons minister Crispin Blunt has called into question a couple of these policies, saying, quite rightly;
"As a measure it was typical of the last administration's flakiness under pressure," he said.
"At the slightest whiff of criticism from the popular press, policy tended to get changed and the consequence of an absurd over-reaction to offenders being exposed to comedy in prison was this deleterious, damaging and daft instruction."
This has clearly vexed the Mail, who like their Tories to talk tough on crime. Indeed, it's angered them to the extent that a second article is attached to the bottom of this one, entitled "Tory who talks like a Left-winger". Here, we discover that Blunt has...well, he's actually never really said anything that left-wing or liberal before, leaving Rachel Quigley to wonder aloud if Blunt (a former Army man!) might have been "polluted by the presence of so many Liberal Democrats in the Coalition". Maybe one of them bit him and infected him with Not Being A Massive Cartoonishly Tory Prat disease? We may never know.
Lastly, we have another pleasingly ludicrous headline the Mail wants you to swallow at face value: EU spends £12m employing 200 researchers to conclude fruit is good for you (.... didn't we all know that?). If you're thinking "Hmm, I bet it turns out there was a little bit more to it than that", then you're right! Pat yourself on the back, Mr or Mrs Smart Guy or Girl!
So, the EU has spent some of its money on something. Before we find out what, the Mail wheels out someone from a "Eurosceptic think-tank" to give us his unbiased opinion, which he does in the form of the rhetorical question "In these tough economic times, do we really need an EU-funded superhero to tell us that fruit is healthy?". Well, no, I'd wager we don't. I'd also wager that the project started before the "tough economic times" (it's four years old), and that it did more than just tell is fruit is good. It seems the Mail is talking about the IsaFruit project, a major research project which published papers with pant-tighteningly exciting titles like these:
Variations in the orchard environmental conditions affect vascular and transpiration flows to/from peach fruit
Identification of a tri-iron(III), tri-citrate complex in the xylem sap of iron-deficient tomato resupplied with iron: new insights into plant iron long-distance transport.
Electrospray-Collision-Induced Dissociation Mass Spectrometry: a Tool to Characterize Synthetic Polyaminocarboxilate Ferric Chelates used as Fertilizers
Changes in organic acid and iron concentrations in xylem sap and apoplastic fluid of Beta vulgaris in response to iron deficiency and resupply
Fruit: turns out it's well good
(Note: one of the above is not a genuine paper emanating from the IsaFruit project; I made it up for satires! See if you can guess which).
All in all, a bit of a bollocks non-story then, patronisingly assuming that any study about fruit must obviously be frivolous, when it's clear that we should be putting all our money into EMPTYING OUR FUCKING BINS, OH GOD THE BINS, THEY HAVEN'T EMPTIED MY BIN SINCE TUESDAY, I THOUGHT WE WON THE FUCKING WAR?
Anyway, I'm sure, like me, you hate serious organisations such as the EU wasting their time and effort on tiresomely inconsequential fluff, so head over to the Mail's site and read some proper news, like how Angelina Jolie looks alright in leather, Cheryl Cole socialises with a penis-carrying male man, a Russian FEMALE golfer is quite attractive, which reminds me of various other sexy FEMALE sportsWOMEN whom you might like to see pictures of, and, most shockingly of all, Amy Winehouse has gone out drinking.
I feel a bit depressed now, where's those Shakira pictures again?