In a fit of public spirits I stride to the footpath to cut back the brambles sticking out at eye height. I carry shears and a pair of seccateurs, both of which are almost completely blunt. I hack and slash and tear and pull and twist, and finally step back to survey my topiary skills (poor). It’s next day that I realise that the shoulder twinges I’m now suffering from are the result of my public spiritedness. The pains get worse throughout the day, and eventually I get an appointment with the osteopath; now I’m lying on my back in Alexander Technique mode, staring at the ceiling and trying to think ‘upward’. Three flies above me, at different heights. Flies making geometric shapes – they turn sharp corners. How do they know when to turn a corner? And what are they doing on the way?

I’m thinking of Rupert Murdoch, and the extraordinary news of the last few weeks. Each day has brought more revelations until one of the most powerful men on the planet faces the Commons committee, and plays the old dodderer card. Just a few weeks ago, I thought there was no stopping his determined undermining of democracy. Murdoch doesn’t tell us what to do – not at all. He just tells us what to think; if what we’re interested in is an easy read, easy opinions, celebrity, dirt on the powerful, then we’ve bought into his world-view. We gave him his power. How did we get like that?

Look at those flies up there…

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