the instant before we discovered who River Song was

(Kicking) Television

Life In an Oxfam shop earlier hovering over a dvd copy of "Did You Hear About the Morgans?" (it's really not that bad plus Hugh's funny on the commentary), I heard the radio behind the counter play in the jazzy music heralding the news on the hour. Inevitably the main story was whichever aspect of the phone hacking scandal was current in that particular nano-second.  The older man behind the counter, who until then had been enjoying the musical interlude which led up to the news, harrumphed, said "Not bloody this again" and turned the radio off.

I knew how he felt.  Many of us do.  We might think wistfully backwards to the period before 16.29 BST on Monday 4 July 2011, before The Guardian posted this story about poor Milly's phone being hacked.  Before the sky fell in.  I'm on holiday from work at the moment and what had seemed like it was going to be a quiet month in which I thought about what I was going to do with the rest of my life (we'll have the librarian for the BBC website chat some other time), perhaps watch some films, and instead I've become addicted to the story of the moment.  As has been observed, this feels like this generation's Watergate and it seems important to be paying attention.

But I don't want to be.  I'd like to be able to  harrumph too, switch off my television set with or without a keyboard in front of it and do something less boring instead.  I need to think about what I'm going to do with the rest of my life but as anyone who's endured the onslaught of me during general elections and other events, my addictive personality can't leave it alone.  For days now, my routine has been #Today to #PM to #Newsnight, punctuated as I eluded yesterday by visits to The Guardian's superlative live blog, with gaps in between filled with the usual life stuff, but forever wondering if something else has happened, thinking about the implications of each new item of BREAKING NEWS.

The problem is of course we're all just spectators.  We're the people who stand in front of television shops in old movies watching events unfold, who grab copies of newspapers from the paper boys shouting about special editions on street corners, and are consuming these events through the instantaneous modern equivalent of those.  That's probably what makes it all the more addictive, that we're just on the edge of tasting the truth whatever the truth might be, the instant before we discovered who River Song was stretched out into a perpetual state of being.  And like River Song, never real being convinced that we will ever are really get to the truth.

Perhaps this is just a glimpse of what it must be like to be media correspondent, one ear on the other outlets, another on sources with loose lips, both hands chained to a keyboard desperately engineering copy before a rival manages to get their version of the story in.  Perhaps it's an indication that I should have been channelling my addictive personality into a journalism career myself all along, despite having failed my English A-Level.  Except I generally dislike the person I am and I can't imagine what I'd become under those circumstances.

Initially I felt guilty about being the person with my nose pressed up to the glass, because there are people at the centre of this who've experienced great tragedy and who because of these many allegations are having to relive those tragedies and we're all gawping at it and them.  But now I'm slowly realising that although we're not active participants, it's very much about us, because in just two weeks it's basically been confirmed that we probably can't trust the people who are supposed to be looking after us, the people who are indirectly supposed to be looking after us, and the people who are supposed to inform us.  I don't know about you, but I'm really scared.

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