I may have written about the D**ly M**l earlier on today, but as I explained at the time, it didn't constitute a breach of my self-imposed cold turkey. My non-exposure to the newspaper and website we love so much chuffs along rather pleasantly.
This, then, is the time for the brain sorbet - that joy-cleansing bit of fruity nothingness in between courses. Though of course since the courses we're talking about are visits into the world of the Daily Mail, the sorbet could be a punch in the face and a kick in the nuts and it'd still be preferable.
So what have I been reading to cleanse the palate and to prepare my mind for a fresh dip into the suspiciously murky waters of the Mail? Well, not so much today - what little pottering time I've had has been spent meandering around on Google Street View. But on other days, I've been happily reading things which haven't instantly turned my blood to gravy and made me want to turn my eyeballs the other way around just so they can never witness such horrors ever again. And it's been refreshing. I've read things I've enjoyed, and liked, and admired, without that ever-looming counterweight of hatred and piffling gloom that's provided by Paul Dacre's finest.
And then I've started wondering: was it really a counterweight at all, or was it just something that gnaws away at you, in a way that the things you like don't? Sometimes it seems you can just deal with them, appreciate them and leave them behind; with that bowl of pus, that vastness of viscera, that thing they call a newspaper, it's different: I don't seem able to leave it behind me without writing something about it. Look at me now! Even now, unshackled from my nemesis, I'm still talking about the bleeding thing. Like they give a shit about me! But that's always the way, isn't it. The things and people you really despise are often bemused; they're not really your enemies, they're just deep irritations, and often you don't bother them at all - which, if anything, winds you up even more.
The Mail quite cheerily dismisses its critics. We're nothing to them. And who can blame them? They're a massively profitable enterprise making a ruddy great fortune out of what they do; we're just people they don't want as readers anyway, and can happily do without, telling them that they've got things wrong and they've made us really cross. And they react, I suspect, like a brontosaurus having been bitten on the tail by a midge - "Oh, did something happen just then? Did anyone notice anything taking place there? No *munch much* anyway, too busy eating giant plants to give a shit, I might walk very slowly off in that direction later..."
Which I don't mind, by the way. I don't do the blogging-about-newspapers as a kind of pathetic attention-seeking episode, some feeble internet knock-down-ginger silliness to ring the Mail's doorbell and then run off laughing. It's not really about that at all. It's about trying to see whether what's written down is really what really is, or anything like it, and if it isn't, to ask why not. I like newspapers and I like reading stories, and I think it's important that massive trusted corporations try and get it right, as much as they can - and yes there will always be little mistakes here and there - when they present their version of events to their readers, which or may not include me. That's all.
Not reading the Mail has kind of reminded me, in a very positive and cheering way, why I began blogging in the first place - you might well think it's a laudable but ultimately fruitless attempt, putting up a cocktail umbrella when a piano's about to fall on your head, or fighting off Godzilla with a water pistol. But I don't see it that way, at all.
I am not trying to achieve some kind of massive turnaround in these media behemoths so they start behaving more ethically, or with more integrity, or at the very least do their very best not to ruin people's lives when their stories have the potential so to do.
It's simply this. They have their say; I have mine. I have a voice too, and I'm going to use it. I may not be a delightfully remunerated scribe in a comfortable office chucking out articles about immigration or the scary internet, but I don't want to be. I can write whatever the hell I like - like this, or anything. I can write PARSNIPS in the middle of a sentence, in capital letters, if I like, and you can't stop me. But it's more than just that. It's not just about the freedom; it's about providing another voice. Useless on my own, but with readers, which I am very lucky to have, and other voices out there saying the same thing, slightly louder. Just a little louder.
What they write does make me angry, and I need to use that energy for something, and I use it for writing, which makes me feel better. Not having the material that makes you annoyed doesn't make the fire go away at all, I've discovered. The brain sorbet has made me realise that.