It occurs to me today that Sunday is, without doubt, one of the best days of the week. You can, for instance, as we've done today, have tea in the morning, read the Observer Magazine, then head to the pub down the road for a cheap lunch (and a pint) whilst perusing the rest of the paper. And all this before the frenzy of potato-picking-and-washing (fresh from our garden, some of the tiniest potatoes I've ever seen!), cooking, crossword-doing, chattering: a wine-soaked evening ritual that ends inevitably in a serene sigh, a weary sinking into bed, half a chapter read before eyes droop and drool crawls out the corners of our happy mouths.
In my afternoon's perusal of the Observer today, however, I started doing that thing. You know the thing I mean, for even if you don't do it yourself, someone you know inevitably does: the half-mumbling, the sighs, the frustrated slap of hand on paper, the shaking of the head. The Man was watching the football and I was leafing through the news section. We ate our sandwiches (roast beef and horseradish sauce and bacon and brie, respectively), salads, and chips in contented, domestic happiness, but a cloud started to come over me as I reached the end of the paper. It's not that I expect--or even want--reporting of nothing-but-the-happy-bits. No; what I want is to be able to vent at my newspaper. So with that in mind, a summary of the day's stories, as selected by, well, me:
In this story, we learn that Oxford University has decided to give a better chance of being selected for an interview to applicants who live in low-income areas of the country. It sounds nice, I suppose--state-school educated youths given a chance to breach the iron gates, handed a golden key to a previously inaccessible city of eternal learning. But what I suspect this policy will actually do is hurt upper-middle class youngsters, whose families may not have the monetary clout to send their children to posh schools but who otherwise have known no real financial hardship. Such students might perform just as well as their counterparts on both ends of the financial spectrum, but now they're left out completely, while advantage is given to the very poor and the very rich. Like affirmative action before it, the policy has admirable roots but suffers from flawed implementation. (Bear in mind this is all speculation).
This one just makes me angry. No, no, no, and no again: offshore drilling in the USA is NOT the answer to the energy crisis. John McCain can champion the cause till the cows come home, but Nancy Pelosi should know better than to hint that "she might allow a vote on the drilling ban if it was part of a wider energy agenda," and Obama too--it could be part of a new energy strategy, in theory--but on its own, "more oil" doesn't sound especially new to me. And I know the high price of gas has hit people hard; I know it's painful, and I'm thankful that I live in a place where not having a car is a viable--even a preferable option--and yes, I feel for the families and the individuals who have struggled as a result of rocketing prices, but I have also felt that there's one good thing that's come from all of this, and it's that for once, people have started to think about alternative energy, and alternative (read: public) transportation not in the hazy terms of dreamers and environmental radicals, but as real possibilities. Why squander the opportunity to turn this into strong action?
This is just ludicrous.
This article makes me wonder where the balance lies between the most basic quality of life (just having a roof over your head) and the slightly less basic, but no less desirable, kind of qualities, like having a garden behind your house. If we have to destroy people's green spaces in order to give other people a chance to own a home, then the line must be very fine indeed, and as someone with a lovely garden (and an enormous appreciation for the things), I hope there's another solution somewhere.
And in the 7 Days section, we learn the following things: that Sam Cameron, wife of Tory leader David, has "had rave reviews for her newly designed handbag...retailing at a mere £775"; that "the world's most expensive house" has just been purchased by an anonymous Russian for about £400m; that a king penguin (yes, you read that right--I had to scan the paragraph several times to make sure) has been granted regimental knighthood by the Royal Guard in Norway; and that olympic swimmer Michael Phelps adheres to a 12,000 calorie-a-day-diet (again, you read that right).
This is truly the stuff that the Harper's Index is made of.