I remember coming home from primary school at lunchtime and hearing the news on Radio 4 as my dad made lunch — "Dominy Carrot" (Dominic Harrod) and the World at One. I knew it was important even then, at the age of 7 or 8: my dad would be shaking his head, worried about portents, concerned about developments (oil, the Middle East: plus ça change). This was serious. At school we had to report back, every second day, about "real" news: the other days were about what had happened to us personally (fell over, scraped knee, climbed tree, built a little dam of sticks to block the stream, ate wild garlic on the way to school, got a puncture on the bicycle, climbed on a hay bale). I listened intently to the radio to glean "real" news, but I remember only writing about murders, even then being fascinated by them: the Black Panther, self-titled (oh the hubris) who murdered the heiress Lesley Whittle by hanging her in a bunker after his demands weren't met (what a sad and pathetic and, ultimately, 1970s story that is!); and a bit closer to home, the World's End pub murders (still officially unsolved, but controversially so).
I've been what you could call a "news junkie" ever since — albeit I object to that term, since on the facts, I wouldn't steal from my mother, or inject myself with anthrax in order to get my fix. The Australian press is shockingly poor, partisan without admitting it, partial and lazy; I still read whatever I can get my hands on. I still read The Guardian (the best newspaper in the world - am I wrong?) every day, a habit that's almost lifelong (my brother Robin, when he was 13 and I was 15, brought a copy home and we were all hooked). Even though it sometimes seems absurd and pointless, I check every day to see what's happening in the world and become enraged anew at some injustice.
It's fascinating to look at Max and wonder how he will get his news — if he is even interested in it — and what he will find to sigh over.