• Brexit AND Bust! – Why?

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    Above, a fond memory from the 1970s, the former Miss Linda Lusardi, now Mrs Samuel Kane.

    As a salesman in the 1970s I used to call upon firms and in many cases when one called into a works of a foreman’s office on a construction site, there would be a copy of “The Sun” newspaper lying on a coffee table in reception or elsewhere. I like thousands of other blokes did something that was damn near autonomic: open the paper and look at the lovely young lady on Page 3. Indeed these young ladies were termed, “Page 3 girls.” Of their number, Mrs Kane was particularly admired.

    Of course, the mid 1970s was another world. As they say, the Past is a foreign country: They do things differently there.

    Last month, three weeks this Sunday, at 11AM, the nation stood silent remembering the Armistice a century ago in 1918.

    The differences between 1918 and 2018 are many and obvious. In terms of technology – especially military technology – there had been not one revolution, but many. Our lives are very different from those of our grandparents, great grandparents and great, great grandparents. The internet has revolutionised our lives in so many ways. Yet whilst we are quick to acknowledge and accept the visibly obvious, some of the less visible, but equally obvious changes are ignored.

    One of these changes which has not sufficiently been recognised is the dramatic change in the business models of the print newspapers. In 1918 the national newspapers were the principle means for the communication of news. As a result their influence was enormous. In the century that has passed, this has changed. At first the pace of change was slow but it has steadily increased. At first t was the radio, or “wireless” as it used to be called. In the 1920s radios were primitive “crystal sets” and the choice of channels was limited to say the least. Then, after WW2 came television. This new technology developed steadily producing more channels, which meant more choice and then colour broadcasts. This development was followed by the video recorder complete with timer. Thus enabling the public to record TV programmes for later listening.

    Then of course there came the internet. At first it was quite limited but it expanded it’s capabilities rapidly and now the transition has taken place whereby terrestrial TV broadcasts are side by side with satellite and internet TV broadcasts. Indeed, it can be said that most people no longer have a TV at all. The big flat screen “TV” in the living room may be called a TV but it is in fact a type of internet computer. I am reminded of this every time I switch the set on. It is a sort of “back to the future moment.” You see, I’m on my 5th TV. The first was purchased when I was a small boy and it was a Philips TV – an old vacuum tube set – obviously B&W! I remember, just like the valve radios (or wireless as it was called) one had to wait a minute of so for the tubes to warm up before reception started. Then one day – as I entered my teens – Dad purchased a new telly! It was a Hitachi 20inch Colour TV! Not only had the set a colour UHF receiver, it had transistors – which mean as soon as you pressed the “ON” button, the set came to life. The Hitachi lasted quite a time until it ceased to function one day. We replaced it with a 25 inch Sony TV – purchased at a discount from a local retailer. That set actually lasted until when I sold the house in 2013, however, before then, with the advent of flat screen TVs and the death of CRT TVs, I purchased a Sony 32 inch flat screen CRT TV – second hand for not a lot on Ebay. I needed a friend’s help to help transport it! Unfortunately that went the way of all flesh and for the last twelve months of my time in Leeds, the older Sony was back in it’s old place. After I had sold my old house and bought my new flat, I decided to purchase a new TV. It was a Sony. This was a 42 inch LED HD “Smart” TV. Like all the previous TV’s, it has a coaxial socket for an aerial, but no longer can receive analogue UHF signals but digital signals instead. It also has a connection to the internet and recently had been provided with an Amazon USB device. Whilst this set is a great advance on the previous Sonys, it exhibits a feature similar to the old valve Philips TV of my boyhood. A delay when switching the set on. The delay is not the same however. With the old Philips the delay was caused by the valves requiring a certain temperature in order to work. With the new Sony the set comes on about as quickly as it’s predecessor. However the channel it will broadcast will be the channel it broadcast when it was last switched on. If one wants to change channels the set won’t perform until after minute has passed. This is because it is not a TV in the old sense but a computer which has to fully go through what is known as a “boot sequence”. Thus there is a procedure one has to adopt if one wants quick reception: one must select the channel you want to watch first the next day before you switch the TV off the day before! Therefore, whatever channel I am watching last thing at night, before I switch the set off, I select the HD BBC1 channel so when I switch the set on at a minute to 6, I get the BBC 6PM news!

    Now at this point dear Reader, I know you will be getting more than a little bit bored and have shouted, “Why are you rabbiting on like this!”
    This is why: Today the things that are called newspapers are NO longer what they were!
    The arrival of the internet and satellite technology has not only changed our viewing habits. It has fundamentally affected the business model of all the print newspapers in advanced First World economies.

    This is because there are now so many sources of news. Print newspapers have been forced to “go online” and not all have been able to successfully adapt to paid access and remain free to cyber-surfers. What this means is that much of their revenue comes from those annoying “pop up” adverts that have infested their websites.

    You see there are many websites where people can get news and opinions: such as this organ which you will now Dear Reader is completely free of “pop ups”!

    What this means is that the cost base of newspapers has changed. They can no longer afford to devote the resources they used to to ensure that the stories are thoroughly researched and authoritative. The importance is to put out copy which sells.

    Rupert Murdoch realised this early on which is why he employed Mrs Kane and other young ladies to pose topless in his newspaper.

    This diminution of quality has now brought about very serious consequences.

    It is axiomatic in an advanced First World democracy that a free press is essential.

    It is just as axiomatic that a competent press is essential!

    However, when we have newspapers printing column inches that declare that there is “nothing to fear from a No Deal Brexit” then the country is on “the slippery slope” that can lead it to “fall off a cliff” – to mix metaphors.

    What we have got is a circle of incompetence: the politicians pronounce tosh and the journalists publish tosh and comment tosh; the politicians read the tosh contained in the comments and pronounce once more. And the cycle is endlessly repeated!

    Until maybe Saturday morning of the 30th March 2019?

    This reminds me of an old joke, which since it is the approaching the time when we celebrate the First Coming, if you will graciously permit Dear Reader, I will relate:

    There is an old chap, a Christian, who wishes to spread the Good News but at the same time warn people that time is short and thus he walks every day the length of London’s Oxford Street with the sandwich board proclaiming that “The End is Nigh” whilst on the other side proclaiming “Jesus Saves!” This fine fellow is very persistent and deals with a smile the occasional ribald comment as well as all the weather that comes his way.

    Then, one day, it is the day of the Second Coming! At 10AM that day the Good Lord appears “In Glory” over Oxford Street (and everywhere else besides) however, when He and his angels are still at a high altitude and before the populace become aware, The Lord spots our friend and decides on a slight change of plan. He gets off his chariot of glory and decides to descend in person (sans the normal necessary accoutrement of a parachute) to land just behind our friend. Tapping him on the shoulder, our friend turns around to be greeted by The Lord smiling, saying; “It’s time. Come up with me for a better view!”

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