I’m all for national public outrage and the public have been given plenty to be outraged about in recent years. Executives at banks awarding themselves fat bonuses, elements of the government and the police colluding with the press to cover up stuff (e.g.Hillsbough/phone hacking) , institutions such as the BBC and the Catholic Church, at best, turning a blind eye to child abuse, greedy football clubs over charging away supporters and vast multi-national companies avoiding paying millions of pounds of UK tax.
But it is what happens after the outrage that is more interesting and more important. As splendid American comic Doug Stanhope says on the subject, “What, you just notice? That’s good enough for you? I want someone dead.”
So splendid work, Hacked Off for keeping the heat turned up on the obnoxious bullies in the press after David Cameron’s decision to ignore the central and entirely sensible conclusion of the Leveson Inquiry. (Link to Hacked Off’s very interesting website; http://goo.gl/r1qjC )
But here’s a thing: the “well, the government should do something about it” line isn’t enough because it abdicates personal responsibility. People have to be called to account for banking with Barclays, patronising Starbucks, signing up with Vodaphone and buying overpriced tickets for football matches. For example, how anybody who calls themselves a decent human being can hand over their own money for a copy of The Daily Express or The Daily Star after owner Richard Desmond’s reptilian performance at Leveson is beyond my understanding.
We, the general public, have it in our power not only to call these people to account but to destroy them. We don’t need government intervention we just need to say no to these bastards in sufficient numbers to bring them to their knees.
Some banks don’t pay executives massive bonuses and the coffee at Costa and Café Nero is nicer than at Starbucks anyway, so you have no business being in there at all unless it is to abuse their free Wi-fi for three hours. And no Starbucks throwing £20 million at HMRC like they were a disgruntled stripper won’t do, it won’t do at all.
Some newspapers are not owned and run by ruthless scum-bags: The Independent for example didn’t get hauled over the coals at Leveson and it was The Guardian who uncovered the phone hacking cover-up scandal. Although the latter’s treatment of Newcastle United means I still won’t buy it I do read it online.
I’m letting Amazon off by the way because they seem to pass a lot of the benefit of their off-shore tax avoidance on to their customers by keeping their prices low. CDs are half the price they were ten years ago and you will have to prise my Kindle out of my cold dead fingers.
Now for the hard bit: As you may or may not know, I am currently living and working in Norwich. Somebody on Twitter asked me why and my reply was so long that I didn’t bother giving it. The shortened answer is: “Because they have great pubs here and I just do. OK”. But I should add that the recent census results report Norwich as the most Godless city in the UK (43% stating ‘no religion’), which is something to be chuffed about, given that it is also the most civil city I have ever visited. I nearly collided with a pedestrian while cycling last week and we argued over who was at fault, both claiming to be in the wrong. If God had got involved one of us would doubtless have ended up throwing a petrol bomb at a police car.
Anyway Newcastle play at Carrow Road in January and I could walk there in half an hour from this very keyboard. However the tickets are going to be £45 each which means I will be spending the fat end of a hundred pounds to see a game I can watch for considerably less in a pub. Wifey and I stopped going to Newcastle away games years ago. A regular away traveller took myself and (another former Mag writer) Chris Tait to task over this absence from the away end and we both laughed in his face. Because going away in The Premier League is a mug’s game, we Newcastle fans are overcharged, not because our team is a big draw for the home fans but because we will pay. I love away games, even those in Middlesbrough, but I was sick of being treated like a sucker. You can argue that I have a duty to support my team but the away end at Norwich will doubtless sell out and the support will be formidable with or without me.
So what am I going to do about it? I have taken my money out of Barclays, replaced my Vodafone, not been in a Starbucks for months and will glare at anyone holding a copy of the Daily Express. Do I try and get tickets for Norwich?
Am I even allowed to go to Norwich? So many people pointed out how well Newcastle did in our absence last season that I vowed to stay away until our form nosedived so as not to get the blame for any slump. It looks to me like we are riding on the crest of a slump right now, so I reckon it’s safe to sneak back.