One of the good things about dead people is that they can’t sue you. You can say whatever you like about them. Quite a lot is being said about Cilla Black recently. Sadly, none of it quite like the revelations you might expect if she was anything like the character she played in Benidorm, which she obviously wasn’t.
Instead, we’re told that her life was altered by a ghost. Some of the papers half-heartedly tried to write it in inverted commas, but The Express and Daily Mail ran it as a real, true story. Cilla saw a ghost. That’s a fact. Kim Kardashian is talented for more than just having a huge arse. That’s another one. There’s a plot to blow up the Queen on Saturday and nobody’s been arrested. That’s another fact right there. All of them sounding as if they’ve been written by over-excited eight year-olds and given the fact that HuffPost and their ilk don’t pay anyone, maybe they have.
Something else in an otherwise predictable Sky “report” on ISIS was interesting but went uncommented completely: Peshmerga commanders have described how ISIS goes to great lengths to hide the identities of its fighters – including shooting dead bodies they are unable to remove from the battlefield repeatedly in the face until they are unrecognisable. Quite why was left unquestioned, let alone unanswered. What for? Why would they? Whatever name we’re supposed to call them this week?
But a lot of things routinely go unanswered these days. Such as why it’s ok for Turkey to buy oil from ISIS, which isn’t a rumour but something the US Treasury states. Or why Turkey bombs the Kurds who actually stand up to ISIS and fight back effectively against them. Or why ISIS has never fired a single shot against Israel that I’ve ever heard of, which is particularly odd if they’re really supposed to be rampaging through the Middle East and imposing a caliphate. Google ISIS attacks Israel and see what you come up with. It won’t take long. Or why the Isreali Prime Minister has been saying Iraq will have a nuclear weapon within two years for the past twenty-five years and nobody ever publicly says “but you said that last year. And the year before. And the year before that Mr Prime Minister.”
Or why BBC reporters claimed David Cameron publicly threatened to shut the BBC but they didn’t feel they ought to mention it until after the election. Think about that one for a moment. Or why the same newspapers who have space to print rubbish about a dead pop singer’s nights disturbed by apparitions somehow don’t have the column inches to print much about the Chancellor’s loss-making sell-off of RBS shares and still present his reign as an uninterrupted financial success story.
I think I saw a ghost once. I was in a very old-fashioned restaurant in a six hundred year-old manor house which had once been much bigger. We waited about 20 minutes before we could attract a waiter to our table and then waited longer to get anyone to take our drinks order. Eventually a man I presumed to be the owner came into the dining room. He stopped suddenly as if he was surprised anyone was there, then quickly left the room and turned down a corridor. I got up and followed him. He was wearing a white shirt and yellowish trousers, much the same kit I sometimes wear at weekends if I’m in that kind of mood. He was about ten years older than me. The only odd thing about him was that he looked so surprised and rushed off so quickly. That isn’t strictly true. The other odd thing about him was that the corridor I followed him into was a dead end with no doors and he wasn’t there. He would have had to have walked past me to go anywhere else. He simply wasn’t there.
When the waiter came back he avoided the subject. It turned into a loud night. We assumed there was a stag party because of the noise that went on until the small hours. We talked to the waiter about it at breakfast the next day. He said we were the only guests and that staff didn’t stay on the premises overnight. He didn’t have any explanation for any of it.
Things that go bump
Did I see a ghost? I don’t know. Maybe and maybe not. I know it wasn’t in the least bit scary – I thought it was a real person I saw and as somebody once said to someone who said they’d never seen a ghost, in a room full of strangers or a busy street or train station, how exactly would you know? And it doesn’t matter. What does is that things like this are being pumped out to occupy people, while real, big questions go unasked, let alone answered. And it’s deliberate. And that’s much more scary than Cilla’s dead maid.