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Archive for June, 2011

London: The City paved with debt

 

London: The City paved with debt were words, to the effect with less profanity, that were heard uttered by recent arrival to the City, Richard Whittington.

Richard, who goes by the name of Dick, arrived in the City recently accompanied by his cat. He was lured to the City on the promise of gold and riches. London was so wealthy its streets were said to have been paved with gold. Those days are long gone and the warm, soft gold has been replaced by cold, hard concrete.

Dick, a poor orphan boy, made his way to London from the gentle countryside in which he was raised.  After spending a week hunting for the gold and his last pound being spent on a swig of a tramp’s White Lightening, Dick collapsed, cold, hungry and tired, in front of the Fitzwarren Corporation.

The Fitzwarren Corporation, owned by the wealthy Fitzwarren Family, took pity on Dick and employed him as an errand boy. Soon Dick, through hard work and the cuteness of his cat,  was able to rise through the ranks of the Corporation to become PA to Mr Fitzwarren.

However, it was not before long that the Fitzwarren Corporation was faced with bankruptcy after being swindled out of its money by banks in the subprime mortgage business. The Corporation folded and Dick was made redundant. He had to sell his cat so he could make his rent.

Dick’s dreams of riches were dashed and his only worldly companion sold so he could survive.

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Categories: Analysis, Economy, Satire Tags: , , ,

“I am Johann Hari” an interview with Mr. Hari

June 28, 2011 4 comments

I first met Mr. Hari on a Tuesday morning, the wind and rain still howling outside the small cafe where I had agreed to meet this formidable man. When I asked him about Brian Whelan’s accusations he looked around, in case someone was sitting close enough to listen in to this private and intimate conversation. Hari sighs. ‘None of my interviewees have ever said they had been misquoted’ he says, looking past me into the autumnal style summer weather beyond the safety of the window.

There’s a moment of silence, me thinking of whether I should accuse him of plagiarism or cheap journalism when he answers my thoughts for me:  ‘When I’ve interviewed a writer, it’s quite common that they will express an idea or sentiment to me that they have expressed before in their writing – and, almost always, they’ve said it more clearly in writing than in speech. (I know I write much more clearly than I speak – whenever I read a transcript of what I’ve said, or it always seems less clear and more clotted. I think we’ve all had that sensation in one form or another)’. I remark that he speaks as clearly as he writes as his spoken grammar is perfect. We share a laugh.

I then ask him about his relationships with Gideon Levy, Martin Amis and Larry Flynt. Gideon Levy loves his writing style and his interview technique with Levy once saying to Hari ‘ that it was “the most accurate take on me anyone has written” and “profoundly moved him”’. Martin Amis, he says, stumbles a lot in his conversational style and is quite difficult to understand. His impersonation is highly amusing: ‘“Um, I think, you know, he got the figures for, uh, how many Muslims there are in Europe upside down”’. When I spoke to Martin later that day he confessed he had never heard of Johann Hari, but would soon Google his name. Larry Flynt was another kettle of fish completely. Hari thought him to be a charming man, but Flynt did not feel the same way and sent him hate mail calling him a ‘creepy little slimeball’. One could tell that this still hurts Hari.

As the interview drew to a close and Hari says goodbye, these final words linger, as do their implications. Does it matter what was written and what is said? Is it the job of the journalist to be precise about the when as well as the what? Does it affect ones credibility? As I turned back to the Cafe to see if Hari had any more expertly balanced phrases to contribute, I could just about glimpse the empty bottle on the table, and his head slumped wearily next to it. Questions for another day, perhaps.

Some or all of this interview may be plagiarised and/or made up