Friday, December 07, 2012

Parochial, inconsequential, trivial? Moi?

As regards the news, we've got the weather as usual, and we've got some non-news.  So it's an easy decision: we'll start with the weather.  The slight covering of snow a couple of days ago was quite nice and, in retrospect, yesterday's rock-hard frost was lovely.  And you'll see why when you compare the view over the yard yesterday morning at around 8.30 with the same scene (from a slightly different angle) around 24 hours later.

Yesterday's frost lasted through the day, but rain moved in through the night, which meant that the temperature must have risen a small amount of degrees, but one wouldn't have known it other than from the fact that logic suggested that the temperature had now to be above zero, despite the strong impression one had to the contrary.  So this morning we were under water again - and, as you might be able to discern in this photograph, snowing too.  I am aware that this picture looks grim, but it was actually even grimmer than it looks.  The frost seems such a happy memory: in theory it was warmer today, but the bitterly cold strong wind coupled with the intermittent rain made for as foul a day as one could imagine.  I'll include two photographs from yesterday, with a crisp crust of frost throughout the morning, with two from today, and I don't think that today's views fare at all well by comparison.  And then you'll see the best way of spending today, as our warm, snug, smug cats demonstrate.

Anyway, that's that.  And that's that as regards Newmarket's participation in one of the nation's most popular, as well as least entertaining, shows, X-Factor.  (This, of course, is the non-news).  Anyway, the non-news is that Jamie Hamblett is not in X-Factor.  He was in the competition, in his four-boy band Union J, up to and including Sunday, but that was as far as he went.  He's provided a bit of local interest, of course, and plenty for the Newmarket Journal to write about. The elephant in the room, of course, has been that there has been no evidence of him having any musical talent whatsoever.  He didn't write the songs, he doesn't play an instrument, and it's debatable whether he even sings at all.  Still, he looks pretty, and about two thirds of his 24 years.  And here's the irony.

"The music business" is supposed to be hard to break into.  And here we have Jamie, who was an extremely good apprentice and is an extremely good rider but yet failed to come close to making a career as a jockey - and yet the same Jamie has (probably) no musical talent, and yet is probably going to forge a very lucrative career as a 'singer'.  Makes you think that this jockeying might be a bit harder than it seems, after all, as it's seemingly a lot more competitive than muzaking.   But it's great for Jamie if he can pull this muzak thing off.  He's an excellent lad and it'll be nice to see him successful - even if in the other sense it'll be a terrible shame if the consequence is that his main talent (riding horses) goes to waste while he fritters away his time with this nonsense (albeit well paid nonsense).  Don't know that I'd swap the Heath for muzak, but - even if mornings such as today's make the muzak perhaps seem not such a bad option.

The other racing person on national TV recently has been the owner/trainer/breeder Andrew Reid, whom I was amused to see on the BBC News when the main story was the Lord McAlpine non-story.  (Andrew seemingly being Lord McAlpine's lawyer).  That was quite an interesting story, even if I think that it's dangerous to be too taken in by the gravity of news stories about the media.  It's a general failing of the media that, in general, it thinks that it is more important than the news which it is covering, so when the story is the media, such story tends to be treated as if it is far, far  more important than it is.  And one shouldn't be taken in by this.

I was on the road the day after the Lord McAlpine non-story broke, and so didn't turn Radio Two off at noon when Jeremy Vine came on.  It made for an interesting discussion (even if it prompted the thought that the BBC was doing in atonement exactly what it had done to cause the trouble in the first place, ie adopting a stance without checking out whether its stance was correct - in other words, it told us the story seemingly without having checked the veracity, and then withdrew from the story without possibly having had time to find out whether or not it had been in the right).  But then, to demonstrate that the previous day's good show might just have been a fluke, I chanced upon the same show the following day and heard the presenter stirring up debate with, seemingly, equal passion and equal earnestness in directions which were either inconsequential and parochial (a pedestrian crossing in Rotherham which apparently gives pedestrians no more than four seconds to cross the road) or just plain misinformed ("Why would a jockey take a performance-enhancing drug?").  One can't expect one's audience to take one seriously if one gets just as enthused by a wild goose chase as by the quest for the holy grail.  (Compare and contrast with this blog, which focusses exclusively on the trivial, parochial and inconsequential).

The classic example, of course, of the media thinking itself far more important than it is came when Clare Balding rode in a televised race.  You'll recall Clare Balding: daughter of the Scrooby-based trainer John Balding, of Blyton Lad fame, she rode for several years, firstly as an apprentice and then as a jockey.  She packed it in maybe 10 years ago, but her husband Jason Edmunds carried on riding for the stable until injury forced him to quit race-riding a couple of years ago.  Anyway, Clare had a rare televised ride.  The announcer who was telling us the runners and riders came to her name and followed it up with, "That's not THE Clare Balding, of course".

It was as crass as one could get.  If he'd felt that it might have caused confusion that there as a lesser known jockey with the same name as a racing TV presenter, it would have been sensible to say, "And that's Clare Balding the jockey, of course, who should not be confused with Clare Balding the TV presenter"  But to say that, in a list of jockeys, Clare Balding the jockey wasn't THE Clare Balding, was just plain ludicrous: as regards jockeys, that one was THE Clare Balding.  And the fact that that wasn't instantly obvious to the presenter was a startling illustration of the media's general malaise of believing that it, rather than the story, is the story.  So we won't get too carried away by the furore regarding the Beeb - but if Andrew Reid can make a few quid out of it to keep his horses going, then it can't be all bad.

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