Peter Rhodes on truthful reporting, the joy of theatre screening and the horror of being well and truly Faraged
Read today's column from Peter Rhodes.
New words for our age. Farage (verb). To make or receive an offer which at first seems generous but on closer inspection is not. As in: We've been totally Faraged this time."
And now, a lecture from the Left. In a holier-than-thou leader column entitled "The Truth is Out There," the Guardian this week reminds us hacks of the mantra of its legendary editor C P Snow nearly 100 years ago: "Facts are sacred." It went on: "Efforts by journalists . . . to supply voters with accurate information must be redoubled. Attempts to withold or mislead must be remorselessly exposed. In the coming weeks, this newspaper will do what it can to help." Stirring stuff. Perhaps the Guardian could lead this noble crusade by considering an item which has been on its news website since September 30. This alleges that Boris Johnson "was accused of grabbing the thighs of two women at a lunch while he was editor of the Spectator magazine." Not true.
In her famous Sunday Times column on the alleged incident, Charlotte Edwardes described "a squeeze" from Boris. The word "grabbing" which has a specific meaning of a sudden or forceful movement, appears nowhere. The Guardian must know this but chooses not to delete or alter its report. Facts are sacred. But some facts are more sacred than others, eh?
And off to an "encore screening" at our local theatre of One Man, Two Guvnors, starring James Corden in the brilliant 2011 National Theatre production. It is one of the funniest things I've ever seen on stage. Screening performances from our great theatres is big business. Last year the National Theatre alone had nearly 20,000 screenings around the world. But it's not all good news. There are anxious debates about its effect on local theatre groups. Imagine you're booking acts for a little provincial theatre and you have the choice of Corden and Co screened from the National or the Little Bogwistle Players mumbling their way through another doomed revival of Salad Days. Two offerings, one choice.
Labour's plan for lifetime learning and six years of free adult education is socialism at its best, steeped in the traditional Labour belief in self-improvement and social mobility. You may be a wage-slave exploited by bosses today but tomorrow you could be a professional, a teacher, a leader of men. Yet there's a snag - and it's not all Labour's fault. You can't just turn up and start studying at A-level. You need the basics, the foundations. And in Britain today the foundations of education are a national disgrace.
One in four five-year-olds struggles with basic vocabulary. A fifth of children leave primary school unable to read or write properly. Nine million adults in the UK are functionally illiterate. How do you construct higher education on unsure foundations? The devout Methodist founders of the Labour Party knew all about the perils of building your house on sand.