Gordon Brown, his eye, and the media

I think it was about five minutes into the BBC news coverage of Gordon Brown’s eye that I began to think that this was a very strange story to give so much time to. It reminded me a bit of the fishbone in the Queen Mother’s throat a few years ago. The subtext then was ‘She might die’ – and this was a major thing, since anyone who has ever worked in a newsroom knows that there was a terrifying series of protocols which surrounded such a possibility, over two decades before it happened. The subtext this time is ‘He might retire’ – which is just the stupidest thing to spend the time of an array of experts upon. I mean, for heaven’s sake, he has a minor problem with his eye. That’s all. This after all is a cabinet in which, not so long ago, one of the leading members had no sight at all. I thought we had got over such things.

It was one of those slow news-days, perhaps, when nobody had anything better to do than to hone in on a slightly dysfunctional bit of body. Retina in trouble! Medical boffins summoned for comment (and paid, I expect)!

Or did they think we all needed to know about the biology of a retina? It was about as important as my telling you that I stubbed my toe a month ago, and that it still hurts.

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