You know what I miss? Reading newspapers and periodicals. And one of the things the Brits do better than we do is this:
When I was the house guest at Free Market Towers, the first great pleasure of the day was not that first cup of coffee — at least, not altogether the first — it was the opportunity of reading an actual (dead tree) newspaper, great huge sheets of newsprint crammed with articles, essays, news and all sorts of stuff which could satisfy a polymath like me, learning all sorts of unlikely things that I wouldn’t ordinarily glance at. But there, pint mug of coffee in hand, was the Daily Telegraph which has somehow managed not to become a complete waste of paper like so many others, e.g. New York Times and Chicago Tribune, to name but two.
Back when I lived in the Chicago ‘burbs and caught the 5:30am train into the Loop each morning, I’d stop at the little kiosk at the Arlington Heights Metra station, buy a donut, cup of coffee and the Tribune ; and let me tell you, the 90-minute journey into town took no time at all, because the Trib back in those days was not the Lefty rag it is today, boasting as it did wonderful writers like the late Mike Royko.
Which leads me to my next point. For an old fart like me, who likes holding paper (whether newspaper or a book) to read, what the hell am I supposed to do? There’s not a single U.S. newspaper worth the paper it’s printed on — go on, name me one, I challenge you — so even if we did have a corner newsagent like the one in the pic, there would be absolutely no point in calling on one unless it was to stoke my already-high morning irritation level up to boiling point.
And I’m quite aware that some of the smaller local newspapers are pretty good, but I don’t want a suburban newspaper: I want a nice big fat city newspaper whose “World News” section isn’t just Associated Press feeds or cribs of CNN. I want London’s Sunday Times (just for its peerless Business & Economics section) and the Daily Telegraph, tailored for the U.S.
I don’t want to get my news online anymore; mostly, it’s complete bullshit and clearly aimed for people with the attention span of mayflies. Just when I’m getting interested in a topic, it ends with some trite sign-off from the writer, as though a topic actually worth about a thousand words is only given two hundred. (I don’t know if that’s the fault of the Editor — always trying to pander to the aforesaid mayflies — or of the journalist, for whom a 1,000-word article would be beyond his writing capability and might require [gasp] both a grasp of the topic and some journalistic research to reach that target length.)
I feel like my reading ability is being stifled, and it’s deteriorating; and I don’t know what to do about it.