On the train home last night I leafed through a copy of the Evening Standard and noticed the following article on page 3:
That’s right, they’ve devoted a full page to a story about how nothing happened yesterday morning when the CERN scientists turned on the Hadron Collider in Switzerland. The photograph has the dramatic caption “Time bomb”, going on to qualify it with “passers-by join Evening Standard writer Terry Kirby as Big Ben strikes 8.30 today and nothing happens”.
Indeed, the Terry Kirby goes into a great deal of detail about how nothing happened. Not only that, but he seems to have been the only person around who thought it might. “In Parliament Square, as Big Ben counted down the minutes to what could have been the Big End, there was no sign of nervousness among the citizens of London.” No, really??? You mean people weren’t standing weeping, or huddled together like in the end of the world sketch from Beyond the Fringe? What were they thinking?
The story gets even more wilfully undramatic as it goes on: “Lithuanian building worker Silvester Sutas, 30, when asked if he was waiting for the end of the world, replied: “Actually I’ve been waiting to go to work on a building site”.
It is clear by this stage of the article why Terry Kirby is not writing Hollywood screenplays, if not exactly why he’s still working as a journalist – although perhaps the Evening Standard is a special case, where the journalists are it seems encouraged to fill a lot of space saying nothing. Yet perhaps Kirby hoped there was going to be a story, maybe even the biggest ever – you can sense a great deal of disappointment in his final sentence, “It was going to be another normal day in London”. And it has to be said that if Terry Kirby turned up at Parliament Square hoping to write about the end of the world, it does show rather a lack of foresight.