Monday, 18 January 2021


When I was small if you were caught “telling stories” you were for it. 

Yet today the story, not the truth, is what matters. That’s why the Times (once known as “The Thunderer”) is now more aptly “The Chuckler” full of stories rather than news and truth.

Last Saturday a succession of stories and articles convinced me either I (or they) had lost it. 

Does this warrant most of page 3?  ‘The original All Creatures Great and Small has becomes a hit in the USA.’ 

Maybe after Trump it’s this that resonates and maybe should have been the real insight:  “If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.” 

- The QAnon conspiracy group, one of whose luminaries claimed his real mother was a 9 feet tall, green alien, has over 650 ,000 followers on You Tube. I’m told it’s taking hold in USA and UK.  My poor head. Tell me why this is so important because it is. Lies squashing truth.

- Liz Hurley has taken up Kung Fu and is good enough now to solicit live opponents. Liz don’t be so silly. And the Times – give this stuff to Hello Magazine.

- Breaking News: King Herod in between slaughtering babies proved his obsession with small things by also being a Bonsai enthusiast. Is this a joke? It’s for WhatsApp not the Times.

- Simon Bowes-Lyon, the great, great nephew of the late Queen Mother got drunk and for 20 minutes groped and tried to kiss a guest after a dinner party when everyone including his victim had toddled off to bed. He faces up to 5 years in prison. He’s obviously a bad sort as he also has 23 penalty points through speeding convictions. This story creaks with unasked questions.

- A Norwegian Philosopher has claimed human beings suffer a blood alcohol level that’s the equivalent of two glasses of wine too low. At last something sensible. True or not? It’s a joke, I think, but with a grain of truth. In vino veritas.

This potpourri of stories represent something that’s been concerning me for a while  and which lie behind the extraordinary stories of Trump and to a lesser extent Brexit. We have become seduced by lies, distortions and drama. When you  hear someone talking about “the narrative” (which increasingly we do, by politicians and their advisors) be very, very scared.  By definition “narratives” are stories told in an engaging and interesting way, They create what Samuel Taylor Coleridge called a suspension of disbelief. In other words a story – a work of fiction (maybe even a lie) becomes accepted as being a new truth. ‘That election was rigged’ is a better story than ‘it was a proper election’. If what the world wants and gets are just better stories we are in trouble because then we are living in what can be described as a post-truth era.

Post-truth is the petri-dish in which conspiracy theories and stories that excite and convince people flourish. The calm reiteration and reiteration of truth must become our mission. Calm and repetitive can deconstruct the big, lazy lie, as my friends in America tell me hopefully.

We might start with getting our  journalists to be circumspect and to get their boots on faster. Just because the story with the punchline wins more applause than unvarnished truth is no excuse to play to the audience.

We’ve has enough of that phrase “fake news” and even worse “alternative truth.”

It’s time to unravel those lies.

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