Sundays, so the billboards and TV adverts would have us believe, just wouldn’t be Sundays without our Sunday newspapers.
Just recently, in a typically less than daring experiment, mainly brought on by a recent cost cutting exercise at a highly secret address in deepest darkest Queensland, I and my four other researchers (1 female & 3 cats) spent two consecutive Sundays without reading any Sunday newspapers of any description. And our conclusion, arrived at with no small risk to ourselves and our property, and published here for the very first time (unless it has already been serialised by the Sunday papers), is that without our Sunday newspapers, Sunday IS still going to be Sunday. Just like any other day of the week, even more so in fact.
Now I fully realise that the above statement may brand me somewhat of a heretic and some kind of pervert in some people’s eyes, and in preparation for the contempt and outrage that my confession may cause, I have already changed my name by deed poll and have had my appearance considerably altered (I cleaned my teeth and underwear).
I trust the public to sympathetically understand my side of the story as I tell it, and will now frankly, sincerely and fearlessly reveal all for your edification and delight…
You see, I used to regularly get the two higher class versions of the Sunday newspapers. Mainly because I regarded those two papers as sources of unimpeachable information, highly informed aesthetic education and incorruptible moral instruction – a bit like a combination of the Holy Bible and the Yellow Pages.
Somehow I felt that once they had landed on my doormat (bruising it beyond repair under their extreme weightiness); they just had to be read. Much like a subpoena or a high court summons, they would demand my total compliance. I felt that if I did not plod my way through the one and a half tonnes of articles, features and criticism, I would be left to stand condemned. And I was afraid something really awful would happen to me or my family.
Maybe a tell tale mark would appear on my forehead branding me forever as ONE WHO HAS NOT READ HIS SUNDAYS, and, as a consequence, no one would ever talk to me on Monday mornings ever again. As it happens no one talks to me on Mondays anyway, nor any other day of the week for that matter, but it would have been nice to be able to blame my ostracism on this mark of Judas nestling above my eyebrows, but that, as always, is another story my friends.
So, in fear of becoming more of a pariah than I am already, I would force myself to studiously read through every single column of the twenty thousand or so word reports on this, that or the other and at the end of reading such articles, I would feel highly intelligent, well informed, enlightened and equipped with an in depth, self opinionated overview of the world.
Ten minutes later though, as hard as I would try to, I wouldn’t be able to remember any of it. Not a single damned word…
Travelling into work on a Monday morning would then become a hellish nightmare for me. I was afraid that all my colleagues would each realise that my grasp of the world’s events was tenuous to say the least, if not totally lacking in its complete absence.
It was to be just the same with the literary and arts sections. The more I would read, the more aware I would become about what I didn’t already know. I felt guilty about stuff I hadn’t read before and still don’t know now.
After time, even the adverts began to worry me. I became concerned about how I measured up against the other people that read these papers. I didn’t seem to need a sit down tractor to mow the lawn and hoe the orchard. I didn’t need a solar heating plant for my swimming pool or even one of those things you can hang inside a wardrobe for if you had more than thirty pairs of shoes. I had no need for multi-million dollar properties in the south of France, nor a speedboat with an on-board helipad. In fact, I would often find myself revisiting the front of the newspaper to check if I had been sent the ‘Overseas Tax Exile’ edition by mistake.
Long story short, I eventually began to feel like I was trespassing, that I was an intellectual pretender, laying claim to acres of highbrow upper class newsprint to which I had no real right. So, we cancelled our usual papers and opted to try the certain ‘other’ tabloids.
These ‘other’ papers were filled to overflowing with sordid confessions and lurid scandals. I would read about randy schoolteachers and sex-starved cinema usherettes who spent most of their waking lives sleeping with each other. I read about a retired bank robber whose pelvic organs had been re-sculpted by an alcoholic plastic surgeon and never looked back. I read about an ageing insurance broker whose wife, to judge by the blurry photo, was a right old minger, but still managed to have an affair with a magistrate, the guard on the train to Cannon Hill (and all the passengers), the staff of the Hyperdome at Logan, and the three policemen who came to see what all the noise was about.
And then I would sit back and wonder why these so-called ‘popular’ papers sold so well.
The answer came to me with the simplicity of genius: They were absolutely fascinating. As most people already know, the best thing next to sex, is more sex. And if it isn’t your sex, then it may as well be someone else’s. And since most people find it difficult to occupy their entire Sunday in a sexual gratification of their own devising, they may as well knuckle down and read about some other person’s.
The thing that I couldn’t understand though, was why, with all these wonderful and lurid stories so freely available in the gutter press, so many people still bothered with the higher class Sundays? If other people’s sweaty business under the duvet is so riveting (and as a popular sexual fetish, rivets now rank just below rubber and leather and two points above Spam), why does anyone even bother about the Pre-Raphaelites or the Post-Impressionists in the elitist press?
The conclusion is inescapable. The only difference between the highbrow and lowbrow paper readers, is the status of the people whose bedtime antics they read about. It’s the same the whole world over: It’s the rich what gets the pleasure and everyone else just gets to read about it.
It was then when all my Sunday newspapers were dutifully cancelled and I tried to rediscover the true and natural meaning of Sunday for myself.
By ten o’clock on my first paperless Sunday, I had already made many exciting discoveries. I’d found out my wife’s name was Jodie and that we had three cats of varying degrees of blackness and not just the one. I’d found that the spare room needed re-decorating, the bathroom tiles needed re-grouting, the sofa needed re-upholstering, the kitchen needed more cupboards and the glazing probably needed doubling. Not to mention the repairs to the step where the papers once landed.
And by the end of the second Sunday I had cultivated myself a renovation schedule unmatched in size and scale to that of the whole of the American Space Programme. And that is when I suddenly remembered why we have Sunday newspapers, be they either of the sordid or salubrious kind:
They are a convenient and useful substitute for real life and the intellectual equivalent of hibernation or suspended animation in cryogenically tested form of liquid nitrogen. And they often come with free DVDs to boot. So what better excuse could we possibly ever find for procrastination of all shapes and sizes?
Nowadays my attitude towards these papers is clear and straightforward…
Without the Sunday newspapers, Sundays would, if we are not careful, be Sundays where Bunnings and doing it yourself would be king, filling all A & E departments around the country with tales of severed fingers, bruised fingernails, general disaster and all other forms of mass extermination.
So stay safe people. Go ahead and enjoy your Sunday supplements… Read all about it in the comfort of your favourite chair and leave all those nasty, normally undiscovered, yet rapidly mounting home based building and repair projects to us fully trained experts.
That way you can get to have the best of both worlds and if, after reading this (and your Sundays), you find you need help with any project or two, then please… do feel free to call me. 🙂