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‘Thunk’less days

| Updated on May 28, 2020

In fine print: Newspapers have a quiet persistence that no ephemeral electronic medium can match

A newspaper addict longs to once again grab hold of printed sheets that fill silences across breakfast tables, help ripen Alphonso mangoes and shield him from agitated news anchors

Dear Editor,

I miss the 6am slide of the newspaper on the floor, the ‘thunk’ as it hits the front door. I no longer haul it in and blearily eye-grab what seems new, saving the rest to be consumed with that much-needed cup of tea, or for preserving prudent silence across the breakfast table.

We’re used to finger-wagging front-page politicians hectoring us like schoolmasters while making obscure and unverifiable claims. Lurking in their shadows are rule-making bureaucrats who warn us that nothing aforesaid or said thereafter can be construed as permission to do anything — no, not even thinking of it — without their explicit approval.

Skip to the middle and you will find the views of opinion makers from distant lands guarded by unobtainable visas. They inform us, lesser mortals, that what we take for a fact is just a fragment of what deep insight and thought show to be the true picture — especially their deep insight and thought.

But then, in between, there is always the quiet word to be remembered, the reliable voice that demands attention, the announcements telling us where we stand today.

Should that headline on the TV channel be believed because it scrolls endlessly? Has the penetrative acidity of the loud and agitated news anchor left any detritus that bears thought?

Can we hold the country’s think tanks to their valiant verbal predictions? What do we make of redoubtable experts with impressive antecedents who demarcate what can from what must not be ignored? And what exactly did the aspiring local politico say in that sound bite?

Newspapers have a quiet persistence that no ephemeral electronic medium can match.

The op-ed article you want to return to, the new guidelines that need to be consulted repeatedly, the address and telephone number to contact for help, the compelling image that caught your eye, all stay where they were, day after day.

Some will be found with delight months or years later when the lining of a drawer reveals what passed unobserved at first. Was it the need for survival that made the young film star — now risen to fame and fortune — fawn over the celluloid veteran peddling the same hackneyed line year after year? Whatever became of the glitter and glow of the once-irrepressible hero of the political firmament?

Newspapers have so many vital roles. Forget forming opinions, what do I wrap around ripening Alphonso mangoes obtained at what has become a kind of Checkpoint Charlie in our locked-down lane?

How do I clean that muggy glass windowpane if there is no newspaper to dampen and rub against it? How do I collect vegetable parings in the kitchen? What do I use to stand drying dishes and pots on? What do I stuff into wet running shoes being cleaned for the happy days when I can run again?

Let the television’s fleeting images scroll into obscurity. Newspapers have the real thing: Read some of it or all, outline articles in red or blue, cut bits out to look at, pinned to a wall, wedged as bookmark or secreted with others as a reminder of thoughts, people and occasions.

No, cut-and-paste from online sources is just not the same.

Can’t wait for the real newspaper to be back!

Yours sincerely,

Paperless patron

Yours Sincerely is a weekly record of grudges and grumblings from an anonymous reader

Published on May 28, 2020

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