"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

"The most humble day of my career" - life imitating art

I sat at my lap top yesterday, doing various bits of stuff, whilst listening to those giving evidence at the culture select committee in the Houses of Parliament yesterday and heard Rupert Murdoch say it was "the most humble day of my career".

I have to declare my interest here. I have never liked Rupert Murdoch's business style or ethos. He bought The Sun in 1969, five years after it had morphed from the sadly missed Labour Party Daily Herald into a new left leaning broadsheet called The Sun in 1964. Rupert Murdoch then changed it into the tabloid that everyone knows today. My father was a lobby correspondent on the old Daily Herald and transferred to the new Sun until his death in 1967. I have never bought The Sun since 1969.

Disliking an entrepreneur's business ethos and style is not the same thing as suspecting he may have been up to some dodgy stuff. And listening and watching Murdoch yesterday, I honestly do not know whether or not he knew personally 'the crimes committed in his name'. But, and again this is my own opinion, I think that the culture within his business empire was such that he and others in his 'management team' perhaps gave the impression that no-one cared how information was obtained as long as News International titles scooped others in getting a [sensational] story.

Now I said that I was doing stuff on my laptop whilst the hearing was being aired. Some of you may have read my 'Clarice' blogs and know that I have pretensions to literary criticism. In this guise, yesterday I was leading a discussion on the Internet of a 19thC novel by a now [sadly] mostly out of print and unknown author, Allen Raine, called Garthowen.

The novel, written in English, is by a Welsh woman writer and is very 'Welsh' in its expressions and glimpses of village society in West Wales in the last quarter of the 19thC - which is why I chose it and am leading the discussion. Several of my Welsh friends and family have been helping me with translations of Welsh phrases dropped into the text! And my life imitating art comment in the title of this blog occurs because one of this week's discussion points is how one character, an old man, goes to his chapel and humiliates himself by declaring all the 'sins' he has committed in a hitherto apparently blameless and respectable life.

Of course the novel is heavy with Victorian morality, showing how one's sins will always find one out and how one cannot live well with oneself until all moral debts are paid. The novel has a happy ending although I am uncomfortable with the humiliation of the character and the 'punishment' meted out to him by his Chapel brethren with true Victorian heavy-handed retribution.

So did we all watching/listening to Rupert Murdoch yesterday feel satisfaction or discomfort at seeing him apparently brought so low? That is a question I find surprisingly difficult to answer myself. The hurt inflicted on individuals like the Dowler family and families and victims of the 7/7 bombings are impossible to imagine or describe. Murdoch may not have personally authorised these acts but he did create an empire with a culture that could allow its employees to collectively think these sort of acts reasonable. One thing that yesterday must have made Murdoch and a lot of others watching realise is that power and money does not equal morality, respect and happiness.

Oh and the picture - well it is returning to the pre-News International Age when we could only get our news from Newspapers, TV & the Radio - no satellites or internet then! And of course paper boys and girls delivered newspapers morning and evening - many towns and villages now do not deliver newspapers. And of course this lad is delivering the Daily Herald, what else!


  1. There are a number of questions arising from this whole sordid affair, some surprisingly difficult to answer.

    1, Is it a good or bad thing that one person control a large chunk of the news media?
    2, Do the ends justify the means in the gathering of news and the breaking of stories?
    3, Is the dumbing down of news at all attributable to the rise of Murdoch?
    4, Can one earn a huge crust because one has to control a huge media empire, and then claim ignorance of what is actually going on?
    5, Does ownership of the news necessarily mean control?

    On a completely different tack, have you tackled the works of Vane St.John or his brothers?

  2. Well Julian, those questions are really difficult to answer in that 'in theory' the answers would probably be completely different to those given when considering the actions of and activities surrounding Rupert Murdoch and his 'Empire'. Today we have heard suggestions that James Murdoch may have not answered truthfully to some of the questions put to him on Tuesday and this is so disappointing, to put it mildly. It makes a mockery of the whole 'humble' act of his father and the 'honest approach' of James himself if it is proved to be true.

    As for Vane St John, I have never heard of him and have jsut done a quick google scan and am now very keen to get hold of some of his work, luckily it looks as if i will be able to access some on my kindle! Thanks for the tip - if his writing is as interesting as his biography I will be in for a treat! Is he an ancestor of yours by any chance?