The happening place

“I’m standing here, outside a building, where something is going on. Or not.”

It's hard to pin down exactly when it happened, but at some point in the 1990s we started seeing the outside of buildings on the news. It was a boon for architecture students or people who enjoyed seeing houses or offices in all their glory over the shoulder of a serious-looking on-the-spot reporter, slightly less interesting for the rest of us.

"I'm standing here, outside a place, where something is happening," the reporter would say, in the kind of hushed tones reserved for David Attenborough intruding on a couple of copulating gibbons in a rainforest.

"Hang on," I must have pondered the first time I saw it, "what are they doing, standing outside a building? Why do that? Why not show something happening, or nothing happening, or just admit that nothing's happening, and have someone in a studio talk about the nothing that's happening?"

Of course, you're not allowed to say nothing's happening. Something is always happening. Not on camera, but somewhere near where the camera is pointed. And once in a lifetime, looking at the outside of a door has brought joyous success – Bernard Ingham barging John Sergeant out of Margaret Thatcher's way as she crashed his OB to tell the world that she was fighting on in the Conservative leadership battle against Michael Heseltine.

Every other time, though, no. It's just been the outside of a door.

"Here's someone's front door. They might open it; they might not. They're . . . not opening it. Ooh, is that someone behind a curtain? No. It's a leaf blowing in the wind. We'll just stay with these pictures for a moment, in case . . . no. No, I just thought I saw a flicker there, no." And so on.

When the world went mad during the general election campaign last April, you could look at a stalker's-eye view of a door belonging to a house of someone who'd been called a bigot by Gordon Brown. As if we wanted to. Or might be interested in the door. "Oh, there's a door, much like one you can buy in B&Q," we said to ourselves. "And there it stands on its hinges, resolutely staying shut, while something of mild import happens behind it."

There's a new layer of ennui that's been added to the "house where something might be happening" news trope; it's the "football stadium where nothing is actually happening" shot. Transfer deadline day this week saw camera crews rushed to football grounds where the floodlights were off and nothing was demonstrably happening, where players may not have even been, where ink may not even have been applied to contracts with telephone-number salaries on them. But that was the nearest thing to a location, so that's what they filmed.

It's surreal, when you think about it, to have a reporter standing outside a football ground where nothing is happening, reporting on the nothing that's happening, telling you that perhaps something might be happening, then telling you about the "sources" they've been hearing about telling them about what might (or might not) be going on over their shoulder, in that giant stadium that's closed.

More surreal to think that clusters of fans actually start arriving outside these empty stadiums to celebrate/commiserate/burn things, depending on their mood. Are they doing it just because the cameras are there? Which means, all of a sudden, the cameras aren't there in vain; they're finally filming people who've turned up to celebrate the nothing that's happening in the stadium behind them, because someone was on TV reporting on the stadium in which nothing was happening, so they thought they might come down and see what was going on – even if it's nothing.

Patrolling the murkier waters of the mainstream media
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Appreciate the full horror of Nigel Farage's pro-Trump speech

The former Ukip leader has appeared at a Donald Trump rally. It went exactly as you would expect.

It is with a heavy heart that I must announce Nigel Farage is at it again.

The on-again, off-again Ukip leader and current Member of the European Parliament has appeared at a Donald Trump rally to lend his support to the presidential candidate.

It was, predictably, distressing.

Farage started by telling his American audience why they, like he, should be positive.

"I come to you from the United Kingdom"

Okay, good start. Undeniably true.

"– with a message of hope –

Again, probably quite true.

Image: Clearly hopeful (Wikipedia Screenshot)

– and optimism.”

Ah.

Image: Nigel Farage in front of a poster showing immigrants who are definitely not European (Getty)

He continues: “If the little people, if the real people–”

Wait, what?

Why is Trump nodding sagely at this?

The little people?

Image: It's a plane with the name Trump on it (Wikimedia Commons)

THE LITTLE PEOPLE?

Image: It's the word Trump on the side of a skyscraper I can't cope with this (Pixel)

THE ONLY LITTLE PERSON CLOSE TO TRUMP IS RIDING A MASSIVE STUFFED LION

Image: I don't even know what to tell you. It's Trump and his wife and a child riding a stuffed lion. 

IN A PENTHOUSE

A PENTHOUSE WHICH LOOKS LIKE LIBERACE WAS LET LOOSE WITH THE GILT ON DAY FIVE OF A PARTICULARLY BAD BENDER

Image: So much gold. Just gold, everywhere.

HIS WIFE HAS SO MANY BAGS SHE HAS TO EMPLOY A BAG MAN TO CARRY THEM

Image: I did not even know there were so many styles of Louis Vuitton, and my dentists has a lot of old copies of Vogue.

Anyway. Back to Farage, who is telling the little people that they can win "against the forces of global corporatism".

 

Image: Aaaaarggghhhh (Wikipedia Screenshot)

Ugh. Okay. What next? Oh god, he's telling them they can have a Brexit moment.

“... you can beat Washington...”

“... if enough decent people...”

“...are prepared to stand up against the establishment”

Image: A screenshot from Donald Trump's Wikipedia page.

I think I need a lie down.

Watch the full clip here:

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland