According to an article in The Guardian, a hole has recently been ripped in the fabric of the universe. Though I am no astrophysicist, this sounded pretty serious, as if we are all about to be annihilated in a hail of antimatter and turned into photons. Even ISIS would be preferable to that.
Readers will, I am sure, be relieved to know that they can relax, at least for now: the hole in the universe was ripped by the death of David Bowie. This, at least, is what The Guardian’s columnist, Suzanne Moore, said, with feminine journalistic hyperbole. The article in which she said it begins:
Time takes a cigarette and puts it in your mouth. Did that happen?
I think it happened, as I reacquaint myself with the nausea of the
first fag. Grief is so physical, isn’t it? The discombobulation, that
slightly floaty feeling in your legs, a gutful of dread. I know what
grief feels like, thanks very much. And I grieve for David Bowie.
Her article was about the twentieth full page that the newspaper devoted to the death of David Bowie, including a twelve-page special supplement. The death of Stalin in The Times, by contrast, took up far less space, as it did I daresay in The Guardian too. No one spoke then of a hole ripped in the fabric of the universe by Stalin’s death, nor even of a hole filled in by it. Newspapers would not then have published such incontinent drivel and exhibitionistic gush, nor (I suspect) would anyone have wanted to read it had they done so.
It is not unusual for someone of my age to lament the decline in the quality of a newspaper: but the recent decline in that of The Guardian seems to me to have been unusually precipitous. The Guardian used to be a serious organ, recognised as such even by those (such as I) who disagreed strongly with, or abominated, its general stance. But of late it has turned itself into a kind of Hello! magazine for ageing bourgeois bohemians of the transgressive persuasion, with endless articles about the stars of popular culture. No doubt this now relentless downward intellectual aspiration, of which Suzanne Moore’s article is a manifestation, is the result partly of a foolish commercial decision, like the Church of England’s decision to abandon the Book of Common Prayer: but again like the Church of England, there is probably an ideological element to it as well. And like the Church of England, The Guardian will lose its old congregants and gain no new ones.