In the immediate aftermath of the Boston bombing I turned to Twitter for information, and just as quickly I turned away disgusted by what I saw. At the time I thought humankind couldn't possibly stoop any lower. I was wrong. The body of Sunil Tripathi, 22 years old, was pulled from the waters of a Rhode Island river this week. What drove this apparently happy young man to take his own life? At this moment in time no one knows. He had been missing since mid-March so it is conceivable that he may have already been dead before the events of April 15th. But at that time his family were still unaware of his whereabouts and still held out hope of him returning to them safely.
What followed next was a new level of trauma, a new low even for those who call themselves 'citizen journalists'. Thanks to some clearly well-thought out research and powers of deduction Sunil was named as the person responsible for the bombings. In a matter of hours this misinformation spread all over Twitter and Reddit until it became not just a theory but fact. His Facebook page was bombarded with offensive messages and his stricken family members were targeted by irate patriots eager to vent their fury. None of these people had reliable sources, none of those people had any affiliation with a credible publication and yet here they were delivering the news with gusto. We now know that this young man had nothing to do with the bombings, something his family knew all along. Of course the grovelling apologies have begun in earnest and Sunil is being lauded as a credit to himself and all who knew him. Bit late now though isn't it?
DO YOU TAKE THIS MAN
I was genuinely surprised to learn that France is only the fourteenth country to approve a law allowing gay marriage. My automatic assumption was that the majority of forward-thinking countries had long since sanctioned same-sex couplings. I was even more surprised to see that this ruling had resulted in widespread protests throughout Paris. This is 2013 right? The fear among those protesting is that this ruling will allow for the adoption of children by same-sex couples. And I agree, it is inevitable that once gay marriage enters the French legislate it is only a matter of time before those sharing vows are given the opportunity to start a family. However I don't agree with the belief that those children will be in any way affected by having two daddies or two mammies instead of the traditional one of each.
Because yes it is 2013 and in case you hadn't noticed the notion of family has undergone quite a change since the post-war baby boom. That traditional 'one of each' is still prevalent across society but it now has some serious competition in the shape of the single mother and even the single father. Think of your own friends, every one of us knows at least half a dozen single mothers and some of us may have been brought up by a single parent ourselves. Time was when this deemed unthinkable, “how can you raise a child on your own? Away to the nunnery with ya!” And now? We barely bat an eyelid when a woman brings up her kids by herself. I just hope that in another thirty years time those protesting this legislation will have overcome their prejudices and can accept children being adopted by loving parents regardless of their sexual orientation.
It's a horrible sinking feeling. Your favourite footballer, the man upon whom all your hopes rest, has just done something stupid, something guaranteed to be the talk of the nation for the next few days, or even weeks if you're unlucky. An immediate decision is made; a complete media blackout, it's the only way you'll get through this. It's going to be bad enough listening to the uninformed opinions of work colleagues without subjecting yourself to the moronic masses online too. You'll keep an ear out for news of the inevitable ban and fine but nothing more.
How close was I Liverpool fans? Pretty close I'd imagine, after all I do have consummate experience in this field. Eric, Keano, Rio, Rooney, they've all had me recoiling in horror and defending the indefensible. So when Suarez chomped into some prime Serbian steak I couldn't help but laugh. Yes, a player from another club is going to be put through the wringer, and better still it's a Liverpool player. And even better still it's the lovable non-racist, Uruguayan. Thank you Lord.
And what did he do? He bit somebody. In itself I don't think it's a particularly heinous act. The only modern-day reference point we could find was Jermain Defoe's nibble on Javier Mascherano which accrued a yellow card. But I'm sure if we were to cast our net a little wider we could find several more examples of flesh-hungry footballers. I'm thinking of Serie A in the 1970s, La Liga in the 1980s, South America since time began, places and times where the dark acts of defending were practised religiously.
But that was then and this is now, so Suarez gets ten games and is depicted as a madman. He's cast as a terrible role model and warned about his future conduct. Just about apt in today's climate. The suggestion has been mooted that Liverpool will dispense of his services in order to maintain the reputation of the club. Nonsense. He's the best player they have by some distance and selling him right now would be folly. Keep him I say. The longer he stays the better chance he'll commit more extraordinarily malicious acts and have them Scousers squirming in discomfort. Give him a long-term contract Liverpool, and do it now.
CAN'T BEAT THE FEELIN'
Irish children are getting fatter we know that. And sure what harm is it? 'Bout time someone got a decent feed 'cos we sure as fuck didn't get it when we growing up. Starving we were. 'Ate it in tya Peter you dunno where your next bit is comin' from. A little bit of chubbiness is fine I suppose. But what we haven't accounted for are the health risks. A new study has found that drinking fizzy drinks on a daily basis increases your child's chances of contracting diabetes by 20%. I find that terrifying and I don't even have any children. Kids will always want sugary treats, it's how they're designed, but they also have a unilateral aversion to needles. Try explaining that to the little mites though, yeah you can have a bottle of 7UP but here stick this in your arm first will you?
AFTER YOU M'LADY
The last remaining participant in World War I died a few years ago and with him went the memories of that most horrific of conflicts. Those who survived it's successor will still be around for some time yet but one of them, now well into her nineties, decided that to time to recount her experiences was now. 95 year old Margot Woelk would have been in her mid-twenties during the height of World War II, not exactly the ideal time to be in the prime of your life I'm sure you'll agree. And because she was a fit and healthy speciman with little or no practical uses for the Nazi movement she found herself employed in a rather unique role. Her job? Hitler's food taster.
Along with fourteen other women Ms Woelk was forced to sample the fuhrer's meals before they were delivered to the man himself. Nice work if you can get it eh? Well not really, the food may indeed have been marvellous, far outstripping the wartime rations enjoyed by everyone else, but the constant threat of being poisoned ensured that no morsel could ever be savoured. We already know that Adolf Hiter put very little value on human life but this tale further underlines the sheer arrogance of the man. The lives of these fifteen women were considered dispensable just so long as 'oul one ball could eat in peace. That the Austrian despot took his own life before he could be captured must surely rank as one of modern history's biggest injustices.
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
Biopics of dead musicians have always been ten a' penny, no sooner have they breathed their last then auditions are taking place to capture their finest hour. There's a Marvin Gaye one forthcoming, it's bound to be a disaster, the Motown star was so incredibly complex and audaciously talented that I can't imagine anyone representing him with any authority on screen. The same goes for Freddie Mercury. I mean how could you replicate his showmanship? There's not a man on earth brave enough to even try it. Eh? Sacha Baron Cohen? Come off it, a comedy genius may be but Farrokh Bulsara, frontman of Queen? No chance.
But it appears there's every chance. The creator of Ali G, Borat and Bruno has long since lobbied for the role of Freddie in any potential film of the star's life and now it appears that Brian May is on board too. And the more I think about it the more it makes sense. Let's face it Baron Cohen is clearly as mad as a box of frogs, his comic creations are proof of that. I remember watching Borat and thinking to myself “I will never see anything as shocking as this no matter how long I live”, then I watched Bruno. He's bonkers, crazy, and so was Mercury. From thinking that this was some sort of elaborate ruse I have now warmed to the idea. I now fully expect this biopic to be the truest possible representation of the greatest frontman of all time. Booyakasha!