Something very odd is going to happen in your newspapers and on your television screens, perhaps this week, perhaps not. Soon, anyway. It looks likely that poor old Nelson Mandela is on his last legs and will very soon expire. As soon as he does, just you watch. You will hear of nothing else for days. Your morning newspaper, if you still get one, will have a vast pull-out commemorating the man’s life and achievements (all of which you know about). There will be think pieces, stuff by his friends, stuff by his enemies, stuff by people he patted on the head while visiting Brixton. The BBC will have lined up a week’s worth of programming, on his life and times, his country, what black people thought about him, what white people thought about him, what nDubz and Kanye West and Bono thought about him. The funeral will be live for an entire day, and previewed and previewed and previewed.
Add the odd thing is that all of the editors involved in commissioning this stuff know full well that it will bore you. All of them. They know that the overkill will leave you gasping for air and pleading for mercy. And they know this because they find it boring too. But they will go right ahead and do it nonetheless because…..because in some weird sense they all feel they have to. Just as they will for the Queen, just as they did for Mrs Thatcher (although on the BBC, the programme for Nels will probably have fewer critics). It will not be enough to say: very old critically ill man dies. They feel they MUST bore you out of your senses, and go on doing so, interminably.
More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.