Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Sun's still at it

And this time, it is a private telephone call from the PM to Ms Janes which she recorded (funny how she happened to have a tape recorder to hand - I don't even know where I could find one in my house, let alone switch it on within a few seconds of getting a call from the PM) and then passed to the Sun to aid in their battering of Gordon.

The Sun have shown so much respect for her and this call that they plonked it on their website, topped and tailed by a trailer for the release of 'Bruno' (out now on DVD and Blu Ray from Play.com).

I find this relentless pursuit of the PM absolutely disgraceful - he's actually done nothing wrong over this, apart from possibly misspelling her surname. A poster on the Stirrer noticeboards pointed out this article from the Independent which fairly neatly summarises it the matter. Remember, of course, that Gordon Brown knows the pain of losing a child, although in different circumstances to Ms Janes.
I've no doubt Mr Brown was upset by the death of Jamie James, and all other soldiers extinguished on his watch. But as he's discovered, sincere expressions of personal feeling will have holes picked in them as surely as they would if Mr Brown's defenceless body appeared through the letter-box. There is now, I'm afraid, no circumstance in which the old-fashioned letter, with its stops and starts, its crossings-out and doodles, its combination of heartfelt emotion and slightly inept expression, could survive the modern world of communication – where in future, letters of condolence from PMs to soldiers' wives will be written by committee, standardised, emotionally appropriate and utterly unexceptionable, all trace of human interconnection gone. What will arrive in the homes of soldiers' weeping mothers will be briskly informative and – since this is the really important thing – spell-checked and burnished to a perfect sheen, and won't upset anyone by spelling "securiity" with two 'I's.

His feelings were genuine and heartfelt, the letter personal and respectful, but all that matters is the spelling and the handwriting. As a representative of the War Widows' Association has just pointed out on Radio 4, this is a relatively new innovation and she said that it was far more personal than the usual typewritten letter from military sources.

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