The phrase ‘peak oil’ has been around since the early 20th century. In 2016 we had ‘peak stuff’ for the first time, courtesey of Steve Howard, head of sustainability at Ikea. We also saw astronaut Tim Peake hitting the 'peak of human achievement'. But I fear that we’re approaching yet another peak - ‘peak headline’ - and this time it concerns the governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney.
One of the bad points of this job is the necessity of being plugged into the news. An awareness of what’s going on in the world is no bad thing. In fact, Parmenides argued that to be aware was to be at the fundamental level. But, living in ancient Greece, Parmenides didn’t have to suffer every single event being commented on in breathless ‘LIVE’ tones, as though the fate of the world revolved on the next second of existence - or indeed, on whatever garbled bunch of catchphrases the great collective of Twitter managed to squeeze out next. Plagues and revolts start to look appealing.
With all of this noise in mind, it’s no surprise that a ferocious game of one-upping has started to occur. News writing was already guilty of attaching muscular language to rather limp events, but last week’s interest rate cut has surely taken things too far.
It all started with this, from the BBC on 4 August:
The headline is certainly eye-catching in a ‘that must have been accidently published’ way. My first thought was to feel sorry for the poor work experience kid who was going to feel the full brunt off the BBC disciplinary process.
But such charitable thoughts disappeared after the offending article morphed into…. something else:
One wonders how many of those 1,594 new comments are on-topic. It’s certainly nice to see the BBC flexing its Photoshop muscles, and it’s all just a bit of fun, right? But nothing could have prepared us for the horror show that The Times came out with yesterday:
The thinking women of Moneywise DISAGREE. Editor Moira O’Neill says: “Surely we’re in silly season? Mr Carney may be the same age as my husband but he’s far less attractive.”
Wednesday 17 August update:
Keeping in with the Olympic spirit The Evening Standard has taken up the baton, as you can see from the following blurry picture (said blurriness is an unfortunate byproduct of being jostled on the tube):
Have you spotted any more evidence of what I suspect is some sort of grand conspiracy?