Try knowledge over entertainment

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John Mullin (Perspective, 28 March) tells us that as a former newspaper editor he knows that “the reader quickly becomes bored if hammered over the head with page after page of worthy homogeneous material”.

Setting out therefore to divert rather than educate us he inadvertently stumbled upon and was outraged by something very serious, to whit the substantial differences in life expectancy enjoyed – if that is the word – by people living in different parts of Edinburgh or those who attend the home football matches of Greenock Morton FC and those who stroll up and down High Street Kensington.

Mr Mullin, if I read the last part of his column correctly, appears to view the spectators on the terraces of Morton as “real” whereas the denizens of High Street Ken are not and that the purported difference in life expectancy between the two cohorts is the fault of a disconnected London “elite”.

I, however, wondered whether the reluctance to read “page after page of worthy homogeneous material” might have something to do with it.

A Greenock Morton FC match ticket costs £15, a half season ticket £135 and, presumably, a full season ticket would cost somewhere in the region of £250. So the fans of Greenock Morton, who John Mullin presents as suffering from an outrage-inducingly short life expectancy, do have some discretionary cash to splash.

For £15, the price of one match, the fan of Greenock Morton could treat him- or herself to a copy of Friedrich Engels’ The Condition of the Working Class in England (it also includes Scotland but he was a German and didn’t know any better) and still have change. For £135 the fan could treat him- or herself to the complete works of Shakespeare or Feynman’s Lectures on Physics. For the cost of a year’s season ticket he or she could have both and Engels to boot.

Rather than spend Saturday afternoon watching 22 men kicking a ball around, perhaps the fan of Greenock Morton could go online, hunt down Richard Doll’s study of the link between smoking and lung cancer, and read it – lots of worthy pages but pages that contain something to the reader’s advantage. In short, for no more than he or she currently spends, the fan of Greenock Morton FC – I apologise to the fan of Greenock Morton, it was John Mullin who proposed him as a latter-day traveller on the Clapham omnibus – could be expanding his or her mind instead of following the beautiful game and by reading page after page of worthy homogeneous material he or she might learn something to his or her 
advantage, both physical and intellectual.

Neil Stratton