Forget soap opera news, Covid crisis means media must get serious – Jim Duffy

As Elon Musk, Harry and Meghan, and a professor’s sex life make headlines, Jim Duffy calls for a new focus of rebuilding lives and the economy after the coronavirus pandemic.

Elon Musk's unusual choice of baby name caused a flurry of media attention but more serious matters need to be central to public discourse (Picture: Frederic J Brown/AFP/Getty Images)

Just when we thought the scientific soap opera couldn’t get any more interesting, up pops the “bonking boffin” who broke his own lockdown rules. But, more of that later, this is a serious newspaper right? However, it does feel that we are living in some kind of soap opera where storylines, plots and characters are being scripted with the most outrageous scenes.

While locked down and in need of some form of new normality, the newspapers and TV screens are delivering an eclectic array of titivating and tantalising stories mixed with acts of bravery, selflessness and pure emotion that make us feel even more emotional. And as I prepare my first-ever sourdough bread today, I wonder about what a complicated little species we humans are.

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Firstly, my sourdough bread. I’ve been feeding my starter for seven days now. Like many of you out there who know a sad person who has also embarked on making sourdough, you will no doubt have had pictures of it sent to you. These will show the gorgeous bubbling and frothing mixture that, like being a new dad, makes us feel so proud. I haven’t named mine yet though.

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We are getting back to basics and using nature as the chemist for our kitchen creations. But, as I get ready to bake bread in anger, I am excited and a little nervous. Wish all us sourdough virgins good luck as we change the face of the kitchen for good.

Meanwhile, on the subject of names, have you seen what that bampot Elon Musk has called his new baby? Suffice to say that Zak, John or Willie is not good enough for this wee baby. No, it has a bunch of formulaic letters that a priest would no doubt frown upon at a christening. Musk, chief executive of Tesla, is one of those guys that is in the headlines almost daily. He just loves it. After he stated on Twitter that Tesla’s shares were too expensive, the company lost billions in value. The lesson to be learned from guys like Musk is that with entrepreneurial genius, skill, vision and luck come human flaws. We should be wary. But, good luck to R2D2, or whatever the child is called, and we also wish his mum all our best.

Staying in America, as it is a fascinating place at the best of times, we see that baby Archie has made a video. Descending from royal blood and having what we might call, a proper name, wee Archie and his mum Meghan are doing what she does best – self-promoting. Harsh? I’m not so sure now. Harry, the royal formerly known as prince, and Meghan moved away to the States to get away from the press here allegedly. Specifically a few newspapers that they are in court with at present. But, in the meantime they send out a video of mum and son and the same newspapers duly run it. It’s a weird relationship that I will never understand. But, as Meghan and Harry carve out their fortunes abroad, they will do whatever it takes to get positive column inches I guess.

Keeping with relationships and the newspapers, I learned this week what an open marriage really is. In short, it means you can bonk who you want, but just don’t get caught on lockdown. Especially if the guy you have invited into your open marriage is Professor Neil Ferguson, a senior architect in the UK Government’s lockdown strategy. Married Antonia Staats is now all over the press. It cannot be easy for her or her husband to read. But, what I found curious about this whole affair is the concept of an open marriage. In short, an open marriage is a form on non-monogamy where married partners agree that they can engage in extra marital sexual relationships, but not consider them infidelity. Apparently, folks with strong relationships are the best candidates for this type of arrangement. Well, I do hope it is strong because it is now being tested to the limit. And it seems our prurient interest in Professor Ferguson’s love life will continue on for a bit as “lock down or open up” is now the headline and he was a stalwart of the former. I smell politics somewhere, don’t you?

Alas, as I emerge from lockdown a master baker who has an online gambling account, Kahoot quiz account and a wife who looked at me as if I was a wasp in her bathroom when I opened the subject of open marriage, I will miss the lockdown headlines.

Very soon, we will return to Brexit, Trump trade deals, the American election, independence for Scotland, US-Sino relations, 14 per cent drops in GDP, people losing their jobs and, of course, having to continue to deal with the loss of loved ones during this pandemic. Alex Salmond will pop his head up again no doubt. Scrapping the TV licence will become a topic again. And air travel or the lack of it will no doubt make the headlines.

But, whatever is on the front page or breaking news alert apps, I’m not sure it will ever be the same again. This period of our existence has focused us hard on media stories, digital editions of newspapers, TV, radio and news in general. Sure, there will always be Meghan and Harry, some guy or gal getting caught with the nextdoor neighbour and a billionaire looking for his ego to get stroked.

But, I do feel that this lockdown has engaged us more with the press and what is produced. Time to finish off the soap opera and get serious about rebuilding lives and the economy...

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