Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Getting rid of Dubya wasn't enough. The US remains a bully (Independent)

The issue isn't Obama, any more than it was Bush before him. The issue is US power, writes Owen Jones.

2.  The reshuffle question that Cameron and Clegg cannot afford not to ask (Guardian)

If this is the last chance before 2015 to revive the coalition's fortunes, then the case to ditch Osborne is daring but strong, writes Martin Kettle.

3. MPs must ensure no one else is denied the right to die (Independent)

Tony Nicklinson survived only days after the high court refused his plea for medical help to commit suicide and his death can only be described as a merciful deliverance, writes The Independent.

4. A people’s revolution is under way in the fight against crime (Telegraph)

Britain is leading the world with elected commissioners and a new College of Policing, writes

5. The fight for control of the internet has become critical (Guardian)

If plans to put cyberspace under a secretive UN agency go through, states' censoring of the web will be globally enshrined, writes John Kampfner.

6. Harry, a truly modern prince made flesh (Independent)

This will do his reputation no harm - he's the most excitingly debauched Royal since Henry VIII, writes Harriet Walker.

7. Asil Nadir: still guilty, then, after all these years (Guardian)

The disgraced Polly Peck tycoon expected a more sympathetic hearing. But demands for justice have only grown stronger

8. He wanted to die, but he also wanted to leave a legacy in law (Independent)

Within a few months of his stroke, Tony Nicklinson talked of wanting to die. His family knew locked-in life would never be enough, writes Nina Lakhani.

Save us from actors with delusions of grandeur (Telegraph)

The 'New Tricks’ thespians who think they write the scripts are kidding themselves, writes

Prince Harry: Conduct unbecoming (Telegraph)

The Prince’s disgraceful behaviour in a Las Vegas hotel room ignored the duty he owes to two respected institutions – the Royal family and the Army. He should know better, writes Peter Oborne.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

What happened when a couple accidentally recorded two hours of their life

The cassette tape threw Dan and Fiona into a terrible panic.

If the Transformers series of movies (Transformers; Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; Transformers: Dark of the Moon; Transformers: Age of Extinction; and Transformers: the Last Knight) teach us anything, it is that you think your life is going along just fine but in a moment, with a single mistake or incident, it can be derailed and you never know from what direction the threat will come. Shia LaBeouf, for example, thinks everything is completely OK in his world – then he discovers his car is a shape-shifting alien.

I once knew a couple called Dan and Fiona who, on an evening in the early 1980s, accidentally recorded two hours of their life. Fiona was an English teacher (in fact we’d met at teacher-training college) and she wished to make a recording of a play that was being broadcast on Radio 4 about an anorexic teenager living on a council estate in Belfast. A lot of the dramas at that time were about anorexic teenagers living on council estates in Belfast, or something very similar – sometimes they had cancer.

Fiona planned to get her class to listen to the play and then they would have a discussion about its themes. In that pre-internet age when there was no iPlayer, the only practical way to hear something after the time it had been transmitted was to record the programme onto a cassette tape.

So Fiona got out their boom box (a portable Sony stereo player), loaded in a C120 tape, switched on the radio part of the machine, tuned it to Radio 4, pushed the record button when the play began, and fastidiously turned the tape over after 60 minutes.

But instead of pushing the button that would have taped the play, she had actually pushed the button that activated the built-in microphone, and the machine captured, not the radio drama, but the sound of 120 minutes of her and Dan’s home life, which consisted solely of: “Want a cup of tea?” “No thanks.” And a muffled fart while she was out of the room. That was all. That was it.

The two of them had, until that moment, thought their life together was perfectly happy, but the tape proved them conclusively wrong. No couple who spent their evenings in such torpidity could possibly be happy. Theirs was clearly a life of grinding tedium.

The evidence of the cassette tape threw Dan and Fiona into a terrible panic: the idea of spending any more of their evenings in such bored silence was intolerable. They feared they might have to split up. Except they didn’t want to.

But what could they do to make their lives more exciting? Should they begin conducting sordid affairs in sleazy nightclubs? Maybe they could take up arcane hobbies such as musketry, baking terrible cakes and entering them in competitions, or building models of Victorian prisons out of balsa wood? Might they become active in some kind of extremist politics?

All that sounded like a tremendous amount of effort. In the end they got themselves a cat and talked about that instead. 

This article first appeared in the 20 July 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The new world disorder