To tell the truth, I thought Doris Day was dead already

PUBLISHED: 10:42 14 May 2019 | UPDATED: 10:02 15 May 2019

Doris Day in 1955 visiting the UK. The Hollywood legend and singer has died aged 97. Photo: PA

Doris Day in 1955 visiting the UK. The Hollywood legend and singer has died aged 97. Photo: PA

PA Wire/PA Images

It’s sad to say goodbye to Doris Day but, says James Marston, it’s not really the big issue of the day, is it?

I was thinking this week - and I wonder if it's what we call in the trade a "slow news week" with Doris Day and Jeremy Kyle topping the bill - that somewhere something must be going on and in the melee of global news reporting lies the truth.

That China and America are involved in a trade war seems to me a diversion from the truth that China is in the ascendancy - and why wouldn't it be with all those people and all that cheap labour? - while the American post Second World War hegemony is in decline.

That the PM's Brexit negotiator has run off to Brussels again takes attention away from the fact that Britain has somewhat lost its way in recent years and the widening gap between rich and poor - another story that hit the headlines this week - is just another symptom of how we have become less caring and more selfish.

That the extraordinary outburst of coverage around the death of Doris Day - an actress who many thought was dead already and of which plenty had never heard - is because she's one of the last links with a more kindly wholesome age, the passing of which we rather miss.

Truth isn't always, of course, what we want to hear. I recall writing once about the tendency of farmers to moan alongside a well-developed sense of entitlement only to receive a large and somewhat vitriolic mailbag from farmers telling me how hard they work and how difficult it all was and how much I didn't know and who did I think I was anyway?

In recent weeks, I have been chilled by a friend after I happened to point out something about her character that was too close to the truth for her to accept.

News, as someone once said, is what somebody does not want you to print. This, I might conjecture, is because people might say they do but in fact rarely want to hear the truth.

This is also why I know with the farmers and my friend that I was close to the truth because of the vitriol of the response and the strength of the denial - the bigger the outrage the deeper the truth. As Thomas Hardy once wrote "If an offense come out of the truth, better is it that the offense come than that the truth be concealed."

Indeed, it is a dangerous thing to tell the truth so we mostly don't. We put on social media our lies about ourselves, we project only what we want people to see, we don't like being caught out when we are not telling the truth, we lie all the time I'm afraid.And that's the truth.

James' Mailbag - on the subject of our politicians

Dear James,

Thank you for reminding us about Nolan's Seven Principles for guiding the holders of public office. There is indeed a huge discrepancy between these ideals and the actual behaviour of many of the national political class and I agree that our local political institutions are largely honest and attract fairly decent people, who wish to serve their local communities.

After the local elections, it was abundantly clear, too, that many people simply wanted to support individuals who largely embodied the Nolan principles, which is why the Independents did so well. With MPs, individual integrity is massively compromised by the need for 'party loyalty' and the system of whipping votes etc and then, particularly over Brexit, MPs have also struggled to balance the need to represent the majority wishes of their constituents, with the obligation to use their own judgement and integrity in deciding the best future for the nation as a whole, (as required by Burke and Churchill).

The advancement of their own political careers also intrudes of course, so the whole spectacle of the House of Commons is not at all edifying at present and MPs of true integrity, such as Dominic Grieve or Caroline Lucas or David Lammy are in a minority. If only there could be more independent MPs, but, to become elected you need political and financial infrastructure and so, toeing a party line is the first requirement!

Yours sincerely,

Jane Knott

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....national politicians more like local ones...?

You are blessed in North Norfolk with one of the best MPs I have ever come across (Norman Lamb) so you are raising a high target for your local councillors!

Sarah Watkins

West Wratting

Dear James,

You obviously haven't had similar interaction with Conservative Norfolk County councillors that I have recently.

Trying to make them understand the effects of their policy to take £80 PER WEEK 
from the disabled was impossible. They quite obviously don't care. They care enough about their 
own remuneration to vote themselves a 14% rise in 14 months though.

Having "found" £5 million 
since their decision they still are going ahead with these inhumane cuts.

I wouldn't describe that as decent behaviour.

Yours sincerely,

Nick Taylor


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