Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. A third runway must be cleared for take-off (Daily Telegraph)

I backed Cameron on Heathrow to save the environment – but the facts have changed, says Tim Yeo.

2. This election could be Republicans’ last chance (Financial Times)

An inability to attract the votes of ethnic minorities in general – and Hispanics in particular – is a big disadvantage to the Republicans, writes Gideon Rachman.

3. Along with the Arctic ice, the rich world's smugness will melt (Guardian)

The belief that Europe and America will be hit least by climate change is in ruins, writes George Monbiot. Yet all we do is try to profit from disaster.

4. It’s not just rednecks who’ll vote for Romney (Times) (£)

Step outside the media-academic cocoon and you find plenty of Americans who resent being told they’re bigots, writes John O'Sullivan.

5. Osborne should fear angry Tory outriders (Financial Times)

Those on the right of the party do not reward concessions; they pocket them and ask for more, says Janan Ganesh.

6. The toxic world of globalised healthcare is upon us (Guardian)

Staff wages and benefits eroded through privatisation is nothing compared to what is in store for patients, warns Allyson Pollock.

7. Camera phones aren't just for peep shows (Independent)

Though unnerved by a world without privacy, I admit camera phones bring more benefit than harm, says Dominic Lawson.

8. What makes a doctor become a terrorist? (Daily Mail)

It is to this country’s shame that it has become a leading exporter of jihadi sympathisers, writes Michael Burleigh.

9. We need great speeches in this time of national drama (Guardian)

Amid the government's injustice and class bias, people want to see their deep anger reflected by opposition politicians, says Polly Toynbee.

10. Despite the crisis, Britons are still spending like drunkards (Daily Telegraph)

Unchecked addiction to personal and national debt is robbing our children of their future, argues Jeff Randall.

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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