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Dealing with stuff

2 Jun

Here at the foot of the Queen Victoria statue are heaped flowers and balloons and toys and cardboard messages. It’s part of that modern fashion for taking part in ceremonies or rites of remembrance and outpourings of sympathy and solidarity. I think I can date the start of this fashion at least in this country; 31 August 1997 or what we call in our house Princess Di Day. The weeks following that car crash were filled with outpourings of grief, giant heaps of flowers and dozens of books of condolences up and down the country (who read them?). I didn’t know the woman, never met her but it seemed the whole country had lost a greatly loved family member; it was all totally surreal. So now with every natural disaster, road accident or passing terrorist attack (this one in Manchester the other week but it could be anywhere) we get this and more sometimes (Je suis Charlie was particularly grating). 
I have to say I prefer the old way of dealing with deaths and disasters; flags at half mast maybe, a few words of condemnation or commiseration, absolutely no interviews with survivors, family members, no coverage of police operations, no sensationalism and certainly no heaps of flowers, toys and so on and just move on. Deny your enemy the oxygen of publicity as Mrs Thatcher reportedly said, the bastards absolutely hate to be ignored or, as a columnist in the Guardian put it recently, “Publicity is terror’s “second wave”. Without publicity, terrorism is just dead bodies.” But with 24 hour news coverage of everything they have to fill in the gaps with something even if it’s only people putting flowers round Queen Victoria in Hull. I suppose I’ll just have to deal with it.

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