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By James Carroll
Just when you think the tabloids have left no stone unturned in the ongoing quest for new and exciting minority groups to marginalise, they take you all by surprise and pull out of the bag one of the Big Classics. Gypsies. We are a nation obsessed. They don’t live in houses! They’re a bit sort of foreign! THEY LIKE BIG DRESSES. While these sensational non-facts alone could fill the pages of a red top most days of the week, the recent events at Dale Farm have had them rubbing their ink-stained paws together in glee.
The last minute reprieve for residents of the site not only means that the papers have got hold of an ongoing saga with spectacular twists, but also gave them an excuse to print enlightening pictures of the travellers themselves, who seem to be exclusively blonde, scantily-clad teens.
Daily Star: “More than 20 caravans have already been parked beside a playground.”
Daily Mail: “Nearby there are golf and rugby clubs, and a children’s playground.”
Of course, these references are merely to add interesting geographic detail and are entirely unrelated to dangerous stereotypes and old wives’ tales about gypsies snatching kids. But just to be on the safe side: WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN?
Well, apparently, the UN won’t. Finding myself agreeing with Richard Littlejohn was a rare and disturbing phenomenon, but his view that the United Nations have far better things to do with their time than come to Basildon seems for once fairly reasonable. However, a small chuckle can be allowed when reading his description of ‘jumped-up French college lecturer’ Yves Cabannes’ words as ‘grotesque hyperbole’ in an article than begins:
…don’t be surprised if a United Nations peacekeeping force parachutes in to darkest Essex over the weekend.
Those pesky Eurocrats obviously can’t resist ‘meddling’ either, according to the Daily Express:
…demanding that illegal camps like the Dale Farm site should be left in peace to flout British laws.
Daily Wail is obviously in no doubt that the latter words of the quote are taken word-for-word from an EU directive, as we clearly know that the EU busies itself with little else apart from finding ways to wind Britain up. Perhaps that’s why the euro’s in such a pickle. Perhaps, indeed, they might be better focusing their efforts on ‘combatting prejudice and stereotypes’ concerning themselves as an institution before moving on to minority groups.
But maybe THERE IS NO TIME for that as the Daily Star brings us news that WAR HAS BEEN DECLARED, with breaking revelations from their trusty source ‘One of their [the gypsies] supporters’ , who claims:
This is just the beginning, expect to see us all over Britain now. It’s going to be an invasion.
Given the rather inconsequential number of travellers living in Britain, the need to bolster every town with an occupying force will at least mean that the Dale Farm site will be deserted. A small victory for the forces of Common Sense and Decency against the growing dark forces of Yuman Rights. Man the barricades.
It’s probably time to point out that the tabloids have recently featured stories that weren’t exclusively about gypsies – there are many other half-dressed women to photograph across the nation. Firstly, the TOWIE cast are doing what they do best: looking reem, smelling reem, being reem. They also seem to be wearing some clothes, with the Daily Mail proclaiming that Lauren Goodger’s recent outfit was ‘less than flattering’ while making delightfully snarky comments about her ‘curves’ and linking her failed relationship with her failed attempts at weight loss.
And just to ramp up the amount of confusing and contradictory nonsense women are told about their bodies, contrast the plight of poor old Lauren ‘who says she is a size 10’ with an article full of glowing praise for size-14 Gemma, who:
…showed off a new confidence today as she filmed scenes for the new series, proudly showing off the results of her recent health overhaul in a little black dress.
Finally – you guessed it – more young women not wearing very much. The Daily Mail was scandalised by images of British nightlife captured by ‘a foreign lens’ and decided that the best course of action to express their disgust was to reprint them ‘in vivid detail’, especially those concerning pretty girls flashing their knickers.
As the images are supposed to take centre stage it’s barely worth criticising the lazy journalism, but a prime example is:
Tequila-fuelled young women strike crude poses that will (or should) mortify them in the sober light of day
Why tequila in particular? What exhaustive research methods discovered the tipple of choice for every ‘inebriated specimen’ pictured? The ‘will (or should)’ is particularly exasperating in its standard assumption that only women should be ashamed by their drunken behaviour, and will (or should) be contrasted with:
One image —too disgusting to print here —shows one triumphal inebriate male advancing on a group of sozzled young woman exposing himself.
There is no indication that the man should be mortified (he is in fact ‘triumphal’), but the implication is that his indecent exposure is justifiable by the women having drunk too much.
Let’s raise a glass to that.
PHOTO/AP Fellow, Susan Craig-Greene