Your Days are Numbered.

It’s in the papers – so it must be true


I read the papers on a Sunday, starting at the back with the sports’. It’s called haruspex, a bit like looking from omens that Celtic are getting better by examining a sacrificed animal’s liver, and I wear my green-tinted specs when looking over the evidence. If the portents are good, or sufficiently bad, I’ll read the real news.

Two stories caught my interest. I’m prejudiced like everybody else, but not prejudiced in the same way as everybody else. But these got on my goat. The first one is from Norman Silvester the Sunday Mail. It’s quite a simple story. The high-hied yins of the police have decided they don’t like smartphones. They’re not banning them. Gee-whiz thanks Mr Dixon of Dock Green. But they’re just reminding us that they can and will take smartphones off us for obstructing justice and preventing their officers performing their duties. I’ll translate. No I won’t. If you don’t understand what they mean you shouldn’t have a smartphone, because you’re not smart enough to use it. But I’m prejudiced here too. I’ve not got a smartphone.

But I’d just add as a clincher, they quote FBI boss James Conway. He tells us smartphones have led to a rise in violent crimes in the US. Police officers in ghettos don’t put on a uniform and go shooting black people without good reason. I know that.  See, I’m smart that way. If I’d a smartphone I’d be violent and I’d be out mugging grannies. Filming it and putting it on YouTube.

The second story that got on my goat comes from Carole Cadwalladr and it’s all about MOPAC, which sounds, if you stretch it a bit like the bleating of some animal. I love these acronyms. It makes everything sound so modern and sensible. I’m not even going to tell you what it means, because you’d just be disappointed. You probably don’t remember when landowners, such as the Duke of Buccleauch, or Duke of Argyle, or pretty much any noblemen used to have the power to raise their own private armies. Here have a few regiments they used to say to whoever was king or queen. You probably don’t remember when there used to be a private police force. Good news. It never went away. London boroughs are offering a buy-one-and-get-one-free. £200 000 a year will buy three police officers and the public purse will fund another three. Hampstead and Highgate are getting a couple of those MOPACs for themselves. I just hope these officers bow their heads and salute as their owners pass in their cars. Perhaps they could train their children to fling rose petals. They could live in a gatehouse and make deliveries on demand. Do a bit of gardening work to supplement their income. Convene a Neighbourhood Watch scheme in case anybody has smartphones, know how to use them, and subvert the natural order of things.