Its raining and morons carrying umbrellas clog the entrance to the tube. My eyes are in mortal danger. This is potentially problematic; it’s difficult to find work without sight. But people have haircuts to protect, coats to keep dry, eyes to gauge out. Socially irresponsible, those under 6ft shouldn’t be allowed umbrellas – my advice – just get wet dickhead. Get damp, stay inside, I don’t care; stop trying to blind me. The water from the rain runs off a 5ft half-wit’s umbrella and into my shoe. Gah – your anger melts into the sea of sodden irritation. Only one is untouched by the situation:
Fresh copy fresh copy, Free Standard Free Standard
The newspaper man, middle aged with a turkey neck doesn’t feel the cold. Like a stalwart he calls it like it’s a pleasant August evening. Only if you look closely can you see the sadness in his eyes. His profession is moving backwards into oblivion. For 30 years he sold the Standard, seated. People came to him; people paid. Times changed with the Metro. Now he’s just a man who hassles people on the beginning and the end of their commute. The only thing that allows him his dignity, and that separates him from people handing out gym membership coupons, is his gusto
Breaking news, get it here now, get your Standard
The sorrow inside only grows though. He counts down to his retirement in newspapers given away.
The Standard was never a good newspaper. Ran by Paul Dacre it was available to everyone willing to pay 35p for pseudo racist propaganda sheet. But at least it wasn’t free. People chose to buy it; sovereignty of news was with the commuter. Some people brought it, some people brought something else, some people went without. Now no one buys anything, they accept what they are given. Sovereignty gone, content has become irrelevant. All the free paper revolution has proved beyond doubt is that people will read anything (if it’s free). Good for PR agencies; awful for the print newspapers, journalism and the collective wit of the populace at large.
Having seen off the purple mackintoshed, London Lite amateurs and the London Paper, the newspaper man’s solitary fear is that i-phones and internet on the underground will precede retirement and the evening he gives out his last Standard.
Dedicated to the newspaper man at Holborn station