Is there a whiff of racism in the air over Olympic Park? When the 16-year-old Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen, knocked lumps off her personal best to win a gold medal, she was barely out of the water before the BBC presenter Clare Balding announced that questions would be asked. Inevitably, they were. The kid was accused of doping, indirectly, by an American coach and has been forced to protest her innocence.
Last night a 16-year-old Lithuanian girl, Ruta Meilutyte, knocked lumps off her personal best to win a gold in the same pool. She became a folk hero instantly, without a whisper of suspicion, and quite rightly so. Ruta happens to live in England and attends the same school as the golden boy diver Tom Daley.
In the same session, a 17-year-old American, Missy Franklin, swam a semi-final (successfully), then, less than half an hour later, went back into the pool and won a gold, a remarkable achievement that has received nothing but the acclaim and praise it deserves.
Do you see where I’m going with this?
I’m not normally a vindictive guy, (I hope) but I take more than a little pleasure from a report in this morning’s press. It claims that the Serious Fraud Office is taking a keen interest in bankers who are accused of rigging the London inter-bank overnight rate, and that it believes that they could be prosecuted under existing UK legislation. Several unnamed institutions are under investigation, and it’s a good bet that these include Barclays, the bank over whom the storm broke, and RBS. If the SFO taks it all the way, some of the people involved in the scheme/scam could be looking at a few years as guests of the Mountbatten-Windsor hotel group.
If it takes such draconian action to restore morality to the banking industry as a whole then so be it, for it is surely lacking. I heard a radio ad the other day, for Nationwide, in which it promises to keep customers informed of changes in the variable interest rates on their savings, and trumpets this as a virtue. Excuse me? That should be a legal requirement, and in very large letters. A couple of years ago, my wife opened an internet savings account with Barclays. The interest rate was reasonable, but only for the first year. There was a clause hidden away in the small print that she didn’t notice; as a result her money has been earning interest at 0.01%, a rate that goes way beyond miserly and well into the Shylock zone. This from the bank that has just allowed its chief operating officer, the man at the heart of the Libor scandal, to walk away with a pay-off of £8.75m. (Hopefully he has left a contact address with the SFO.)
Thanks for those tips.I’d love to join you in a glass of Erath Hills pinot noir, (or pinot gris for that matter) but Oregon wines are hard to find where I live.
Okay, I haven’t been active on the blog for the last month or so; if apologies are due, you have them. There have been several reasons for my absence; most of them were family-related, but also I’d become just plain bored by the main issues of the day. I was tired of the constant wrangling between the partners in our so-called Westminster coalition, an enterprise that was doomed to mediocrity from day one, since the Lib Dems can’t stand the Tories, the Tories all hate Vince C able, and nobody really knows who Nick Clegg is. I didn’t care who won the French election . . . although the French people will soon be caring a great deal, I reckon. I didn’t care whether Greece left the euro, even though the only solid reason I can see for it staying in is that in supporting it Germany is weakening itself, and making it less able to dominate the rest of mainland Europe. I did and still do care about the under-capitalised Spanish banks and the toxicity they piled upon themselves by handing out 110% mortgages more or less for the asking, but there’s nothing I can do about them, other than take advantage of the improving £/€ exchange rate. I had passed my boredom threshold with the slow lingering death of Rangers Football Club. (It really is dead, you know. Yes, I know ten guys in blue shirts and a goalie struggled past Brechin City yesterday, but they are in no way the lineal descendants of Alan Morton, Corky Young, Bob McPhail, Jerry Dawson, Jim Baxter, et al. I’m sorry, Ally; you are a lion, but you’re working for donkeys, and the former temple which is still your home has become a mausoleum.)
So what’s prompted me to come back? Disgust, mainly. We’re three days into the Olympics and our cancerous media seem hell bent on digging up as many knocking stories as they can manufacture. For example, last night after the England/Wales select football match at Wembley, well won by the home team, Sky Sports News stationed a reporter and crew outside studying the time it took to leave the stadium. Yes, it takes a while to clear 90,000 punters from any venue of that size, but so what? Fact was, Sky’s ace reporter couldn’t find a single punter who was prepared to complain about it on camera. The next non-story was the loss of a set of keys to some secure areas of Wembley. Yes, it happened: last week. There was never a security risk, and all the locks have been changed, yet Sky described it as an ’embarrassing incident’. Go back three days to the first England/Wales select match. What did the Online Daily Mail (where the real pond life can be found) choose to highlight? Ryan Giggs wasn’t seen to be singing the national anthem; somehow this was transformed into and reported as a deliberate snub by all the Welsh players in the squad.
I began my working life as a journalist. I worked alongside some great reporters, all of whom had two things in common; their integrity, and the fact that they knew a genuine news story from a pile of shite. There don’t seem to be any of them left.
The feedback for Funeral Note has been astounding, so I hope that correspondents can accept this as a collective response. I thank everyone for their constructive comments. Now I must explain something. The book isn’t so much a ‘Whodunnit?’ more of a ‘Whogotdun?’, but I have played by the accepted rules. There is a very big clue, and I’m surprised that so far only Cheryl Horne has got it. (Well done, Cheryl.) Alongside there’s another way of solving the puzzle, and I’m amazed that so far nobody has got that. If there is a cliff-hanger, it’s one word. ‘Why?’