My Sunday ritual often includes a trip to the gym. This usually permits me to enjoy the rest of the weekend relatively guilt free. On my way back, I pop into the local shop to pick up a drink and a newspaper. For some inexplicable reason I picked up The Sunday Telegraph – something I haven’t done in ages. The man in the shop I’ve known for many years, but whose name I’ve never bothered to find out. He keeps a very tidy shop and is always happy to exchange a few words with me. He is a good man.
I slap my scandal ridden paper on the counter and offer some trite comment about the latest headline. But I’m greeted with an impassive face, staring at me for just a moment too long.
“I’m sorry”, he offered, “my thoughts are elsewhere. At home, in Sri Lanka”.
His kind face belied his apparent agony and explained, “It’s genocide in my home town. I am so worried – the government are killing my people.”
I stood there not knowing what to say, so said nothing.
“They killed my father in front of me. That is why I am here. Soon they will kill them all and there will be no Tamils left”.
My thoughts turned to the current protests in parliament square and the contemptible apathy shown by the stack of pages in front of me.
“If you asked me many years ago, I would say I was Sri Lankan. But I am not. I am Tamil”. For a moment, so was I.
The queue behind me stirred with impatience, arms laden with trivialities. So I quickly paid, offered my sympathies and left, thoroughly ashamed that I had just contributed to – and help sustain – this media freak-show that was depriving us from important news.
The MP’s scandal has been going on for too long now, the media basking in sanctimonious hypocrisy, and fuelling public anger to sell yet more papers. Yes, they’ve been caught with their snouts in the trough – sack the offenders and lets move on. Quickly. Please.
There’s real news out there, but none I expect to find in the newspaper that lies unread on the kitchen table.