How the Mail reacts when one of its myths are exploded

A couple of weeks ago, Zoe Williams wrote this excellent piece about David Cameron's "watch in wonder as I shamelessly parrot tabloid fanstasies to stop them being nasty to poor little me, after all, I'm not going to be Prime Minister or anything" speech, in the Guardian - 'Conkers, goggles, elf'n'safety? You really could make it up'.  In it, she shows how most 'elf 'n' safety gawn mayyd stories are, well, made up.  Here's what she says about the infamous 'conkers are banned at school unless the kids wear conkers goggles' myth:

This infamous conker event occurred five years ago, one time only, not as a result of health and safety legislation but because of an overzealous headteacher.
Brilliant.  What's even better than that is that the overzealous headteacher in question had this published in the Guardian a week later 'The conkers-with-goggles story was a myth. I know – I started it'.  You can guess what it's about.  The headteacher who made up the goggles story says:
However, the conker story was a myth.

I never banned conkers; I allowed the game to take place [...] It was a child who actually asked if they could wear goggles.
So, how would the Mail take this?  One of its cornerstone Health and Safety/PC Gone Mad bits of hokum seems to have been destroyed in the space of two articles.  Surely, the paper would quietly lay this one to rest and not really mention it again because its embarrassing and makes it look stupid.

Umm...no.  This is one of its bankers, like Baa Baa Black Sheep being changed for being racist, or immigrants being given free cars, houses and a unicorn - and the leader of the Conservative party has just referred to it in a speech written to please this very paper.


Time to bring out the big guns

''Banning conkers in schools makes me furious': Judi Dench rails against health and safety killjoys'.

Woah.  Dame Judi has railed against health and safety.  This is serious!  She was in A Fine Romance and everything.

Except, no.  Perhaps the funniest thing is that this entire story‬ is spun out of this interview with Dame Judi in the Times.  This is her 'railing against health and safety killjoys':
I get furious about the whole business of not allowing conkers in school, and banning things because they are supposedly dangerous.
That's it.  Dame Judi's interview is over two thousand words long.  She spent 21 of them mentioning health and safety.  This qualifies an entire article in the Mail in the bloody news section.  There's a whopping great 'TV & Showbiz' section right there.  That's where this shit goes.

Here's another funny bit:
Last month it was revealed that some schools are making pupils wear safety goggles before they are allowed to play conkers at breaktime.
No it wasn't!  Last month it was claimed in a rubbish Murdoch/Dacre bumlicking speech by David Cameron that referenced a years old myth.  A week later it was cut down to one headteacher and a week after that the headteacher admitted to making it up!

Maybe people at the Mail don't read the other papers.

Maybe they do and think 'you know what?  Fuck it.'


Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Yet more grand fisking that is as funny as it is heartbreaking because these bits of fiction bleed into the real world and become a sort of truth.

Good stuff.

Claire said...

They do indeed become sort of true: people start these rumours, sometimes to be mischievous, sometimes just to see what will happen and sometimes for sheer malice. Then some well-meaning people see it and take it up, thinking, oh oh we can't do this, better ban it. I know at least one pre-school group banned Baa Baa black sheep even though it's unclear any black people ever took offence at the nursery rhyme.

AG said...

Conkers were banned in my school back in the early 90s: not because of health and safety - sorry, typo, I meant elf n safety - but because rotting bits of conkers all around the playgrounds were making the place look unsightly and starting to smell. This is the sort of thing which contributes to these fictions: sometimes unreasonable but more often reasonable desicions are taken by individual schools and then dressed up as a national policy or trend, spun to fit the right wing press's going-to-the-dogs shit-stirring minority-bashing agenda. Of course, back when my school banned conkers the Tories were in power, so it amazes me that anything bad could ever have happened to anyone.

And they banned Pogs too, after we started using them as a sort of playground currency. And Teeny Terrapins. Bastards.