Leicester City are Premier League Champions. It has been a remarkable journey filled with disbelief and amazement; the underdogs have proven everyone wrong and won the most incredible, unbelievable victory-the top tier of English football, which is widely recognised to be one of ‘the best’ leagues in the world (if not the very best). Leicester’s victory is incredible for a number of reasons; not least the statistical history of the club and their expectations for the season, the precedents set by the league, and the City team itself.
Is the BBC biased? It’s interesting that in the UK, people generally assume the media to be trustworthy reporters presenting news that is of objective importance. The mainstream print media covers a wide political spectrum, from the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph which present generally conservative views, to the left wing outlooks of the Daily Mirror and The Guardian.
However, broadcasting media is dominated by one huge corporation: the corporation, Auntie, the BBC. 93% of the population of the United Kingdom use a BBC provided service at least once a week. A whopping 256 million people worldwide receive their news from the BBC in some form, that’s a staggering one in twenty-eight. This is an astronomical figure, and the BBC’s reputation and renown for impartiality even in wartime is a key factor in retaining such a wide usage-but in recent years this reputation has come under increasing attack. Is the BBC really a trustworthy source for information with regards to key issues? Put simply, can we trust the news the BBC presents?
Within the UK, MI6 is something of a revered institution. It hasn’t been as tainted as the NSA, or even MI5 and GCHQ to an extent within the UK in the recent privacy revelations. Instead, it still maintains its image of chivalric and sportsmanlike conduct combined with an efficient ruthlessness. Obviously a certain amount of this image is sparked by popular culture, James Bond is the predominant example. He is suave, sophisticated, and sexy; the embodiment of cool and he gets the job done for the good of the country.
Today, a new government will be elected. Yet the behind the scenes running of the Houses of Parliament remain a mystery to most, a sea of incomprehension-but understanding was brought to those who watched the BBC documentary Inside the Commons, or have read Order! Order!. They demystify the mystical, comprehensify the incomprehensible, clear the fog. As Gwyneth Dunwoody said, “Parliament is not only the last important forum for the British people, it is also the last defender of the rights of all citizens”. That the very place that affects us most is the place we understand least is something that we should attempt to immediately rectify, and the BBC and Robert Rogers have assisted most ably here.
Did you know that a primary contributor to the Oxford English Dictionary cut off his own penis, before throwing it into a fire? As Mark Forsyth tells us, this is termed autopeotomy (ignoramus that I was before reading the book I didn’t know what this was). Before Forsyth’s The Etymologicon, I didn’t know that the Oxford English Dictionary, that pillar of English society (mostly used for the game of Scrabble, another pillar) was written by a Scotsman and an American. The Scotsman left school at 14, the American was, at the time of helping write the most influential dictionary ever, was in Broadmoor. Yes, it is that Broadmoor, the high-security hospital of psychiatry. This is only one of the strange quirks that defy belief in the anecdotes of English, and Forsyth is the perfect person to give us a guided tour of English.
It was Mark Twain who said that “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t”. Never has this held true more than in the case of Eddie Chapman, a figure whose story is so impossible, that MI5 stated that his tale was “different. In fiction it would be rejected as improbable”. In Agent Zigzag, Ben Macintyre has woven together the threads of a story which brings an entirely new level to the word ‘unbelievable’. It could be a blockbuster Hollywood spy film, complete with near constant explosions. But it’s not-because it’s all true, Chapman was probably the most successful British double agent in the war, and one of the best in history.
Review of I’m Still Standing (Fabrice Muamba)
Fabrice Muamba united a sport. On 17 March 2012, Muamba died on a football pitch. Within hours, hundreds, thousands of fans from all over the world sent their support, from Barcelona to Bolton. For a few days, football was united over a common cause: praying for Muamba.
Shown here is the immediate reaction to Muamba’s death (though it is quite long), and the immediate unification of both sets of supporters and staff.
I’m Still Standing is Muamba’s account of the experience, from his father being persecuted by the enemies of a previous president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mobutu, to Muamba’s return to White Hart Lane, the scene of his collapse.
This dip-in dip-out dictionary (which is what, in all essentials, it is) is a surprisingly interesting read. I know you aren’t meant to read the dictionary (as far as I’m aware), this one made for surprisingly manageable and enjoyable reading.