What’s the point?

I’m a writer. I know, I’m stating the obvious here, but bear with me.

Sometimes, like today, when I wake up to news of another senseless attack on innocent people – this time in Manchester – I wonder if there’s any point. People are suffering, daily – terrorist attacks, poverty, living in war zones.

In my day-job, I’m a gym instructor. I like to think I make a difference to people, in a real and practical way. A small difference, to a small number of people.

But sometimes, like today, it doesn’t feel enough.

Fake News or Chocolate Hob Nobs?

I’ve been sitting on this post, this idea, for a long time. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever post it, but the concept isn’t going away. One of my concerns is that I’m going to delve into politics… But  this isn’t a political post, it’s a grammatical one, a linguistic one.

I hate the term Fake News. It’s meaningless. It’s a catchphrase.

what-you-talkin-bout-willis-quote-1
Also a catchphrase 🙂

In a speech to commemorate Black History Month, Trump said,

“You read all about Dr. Martin Luther King a week ago, when somebody said I took the statue out of my office and it turned out that that was fake news. Fake news.”

Wait? What? Turned out? 

No! It didn’t turn out to be anything – things only turn out to be something else if you don’t have personal insight of the event. You can say, “I thought Beyonce was looking a little chubby, and it turns out she’s pregnant,” but you can’t say, “I thought my bedroom was looking really good, and it turns out I tidied it.”

It’s such a passive way to express yourself. (I’m going to completely ignore that he often refers to himself in the third person… that’s a whole different post!)

As you probably know that report was, in this instance, wrong – and the reporter corrected his mistake. Trump could have said,

“But actually, the statue was exactly where it’s been for the last eight years.”

It would have made him sound reasonable and a little more presidential. But the catchphrase won through.

For balance – because this is not a political post – other cries of fake news have proven to be correct, but the term seems to hold a lot of sway, if it’s shouted loudly enough. It’s short enough to just repeat over and over until the reporter/interviewer gives up hope of ever getting an answer.

With a catchphrase, you don’t need to put reason, logic and plausibility into your replies. In fact, you don’t need to put any thought into them. I wish I was a kid right now (and I hope my kids don’t read this!) Conversations with my mum would be so cool.

Mum – “Annalisa, why did you eat the whole packet of Chocolate Hob Nobs?”

Me – *blank stare, waiting for excuse to pop into my head*

Mum – “Your sister said she saw you.”

Me – “Fake news!”

By the way, in the UK, fake news is such an old concept. After all, we had this:

Image result for ate my hamster

Do you have a linguistic pet peeve? Has ‘fake news’ annoyed you too?

Cliffhangers

Or, Making the audience wait for closure

Or, oh Sherlock, what did you do? (in my best Mrs Hudson voice)

Before I start this post properly, I should offer a warning: I will probably include the phrase ‘in my day…’, but I’ll try to put it off for as long as possible.

benedict_cumberbatch_filming_sherlock_cropped2I’ve watched Sherlock since the very beginning. If you love it as much as I do, you can imagine the excitement that occurs when a new series is imminent. I tend not to pick it apart as much as many people do, especially on Twitter, but I do love to see what other people have said about it – afterwards, not during! One of the main comments after this week’s episode (S4, E2 – The Lying Detective) was the cliffhanger.

Indeed, one tweeter went as far as saying it was the biggest cliffhanger she’d ever seen in her life.

(I’ll just point out here, while you’re digesting the last sentence that at the end of Season 1, Moriarty was pointing a gun at Sherlock, and at the end of Season 2, he ‘died’.)

But it got me thinking about the bigger picture.

People aren’t good at waiting anymore. In my day (see… I told you!), by which I mean when I was a girl (is that any better?), we had to wait until the following week or the following series, there was no option. Can you remember the whole ‘Who Shot JR?’ thing? We had to sit down, at the actual time the TV station decided to air the programme, and watch it – without pausing for toilet breaks, or popping to the kitchen for a snack.

When Doctor Who returned, a lot of those episodes were two-parters – I remember at the end of the programme, my kids and I would turn to each other and oooh with glee and excitement. I loved that oooh moment – it gave us a shared moment where we could revel in all the things we didn’t know yet.

I once heard that Russell T Davies asked his young daughter what she thought of his new Doctor Who creation and she told him she didn’t like waiting for the concluding part, so from that point on all the episodes became stand-alone stories. I don’t know how much of that is true, but it makes my point. WE HATE WAITING.

But waiting is part of life, whether it’s for a bus, the next episode, the next book in a series, a reply from a publisher.

By not waiting, by having box-sets on tap, we lose that sense of excitement and anticipation, we come to expect everything to be where we want it when we want it – which won’t always be the case.

How do you feel about cliffhangers – TV or books, or in daily life?