According to latest circulation figures The Sun sells 2.86 million copies every day. Its readership nudges 8 million. Its Sunday sister, The News of the World has very similar circulation and readership figures. That means more than one in seven of you Brits have The Sun and The NOTW as their staple newspaper diet.
To read exactly what I say? In puritanical Malta in the early seventies The Sun page three was close to becoming legal tender amongst us mid-teen boys. While your daily papers were available by early evening on our news stands, they were heavily censored. Some poor bloke (a pervert no doubt) would go through every newspaper to make sure that there were no boobs or anti-Mintoff, the despotic prime minister at the time, on display.
If you managed to get your hands on an uncensored copy of The Sun you had hit the jackpot. Friends of mine who shall remain unnamed have been known to spend a whole week’s pocket money on a two week old Sun.
My point is that if your were a 13 year old in Malta in the seventies there was a reason to go out and buy The Sun. In 2010 Britain I have to admit that the reason escapes me completely. It cannot be the news value as you know very well that it is just a pack of lies and as for the girls the internet offers everything for every taste imaginable. A very sick friend of mine recently emailed me a photo of two women, one sitting on a JCB and the other on an elephant’s truck. Thank god they were no close ups but I leave the rest to your imagination. Now that certainly beats the Sun’s page 3 if you’re into that sort of thing.
I was born in an island that was a British colony at the time. I was brought up to look at Britain, England in particular, in awe. If it was English it was good. If The Times said so it was the gospel. If it had a Made in England on it, it was the best. My 80 year old dad still thinks that the Rover is the best car in the world. If it had Made in Japan on it you laughed and walked away. There is a phrase which we still use from those days – “tal-Japan” which roughly translates into cheap and tatty. I am not talking Victorian or Edwardian here. I am just going back 40 years.
It saddens me to think that the rubbish that now passes for the press and media in Britain has such a hold on the way you think, what you do, what you buy and how you behave. Some of you might find this tasteless, given that she now passed away, but I have to mention Jade Goody. Which other nation in the world would have turned her or her type into a celebrity? For chrissakes there were people who were going out to buy her perfume and books. She hardly knew how to read herself and ten minutes later she is a top selling author.
The end result of all this is the John Terry “scandal”. The papers have got their pound of flesh. They tied Capello’s hands. Can you imagine the uproar in the press if JT hadn’t been removed? So Capello had to go for the lesser of the two evils because people like that slimy looking Martin Samuel thought that’s the way it should be.
The farcical bit about it is that the decision was going to be taken “on strictly footballing reasons”. Now JT is no angel but the bottom line is that he is the best men to lead any team he plays in. So by depriving England of its best leader on the field England will now go into the World Cup handicapped.
Why cannot sports and private lives be kept separate? It’s all very well journos saying that they want to see England win the World Cup but by god they do their damnedest to make sure England don’t. It takes a lot of little things that have to come good at the right time for you to have any chance of winning and these journos make sure that as many as possible go wrong.
Italy are four time World Cup winners plus losing finalists twice, so they must be doing something right. They won the World Cup in 1982 and 2006 on the back of two huge footballing scandals, both involving match fixing. In 1982 their best player at the time, Paolo Rossi, should have been suspended for the World Cup. But what do the pragmatic Italians do? They cut Rossi’s ban by six months and hey presto he can take part in the tournament. And there is an even bigger hey presto to that – he scored a hat trick against Brazil to take Italy into the semis, scored two more in the semi final against Poland and the opening goal in the final.
You look at the records now and it says 1982 – Italy World Champions. There are no footnotes saying that a cheating bastard who fixed matches in his spare time scored six of their twelve goals that won them the tournament. Same thing in the 2006 World Cup. No footnotes to say that half the players and the coach came from a team that systematically fixed matches to win the domestic league for god knows how many years.
So now it’s squeaky clean Rio for captain of England. And squeaky clean Gerrard to follow if Rio gets caught with his pants down between now and the World Cup. And who next after Gerrard? The bloody Archbishop of Canterbury?
Definitely a case of Tabloids 1 England 0 and it’s not even half time yet.