I know, I know, I know. I've been a lazy good-for-nothing so-and-so and haven't been in touch for a while. Yes, yes, I know, I should've written, I'm sorry, okay?
God, you're starting sounding like my mother.
Look, I'll go and have a quick look at the papers over the past month and see what's been happening... can't have been much, can it?
*mutters, grumbles, ooh have a look at that... 'bigot' eh?... oh, 'eck*
What a difference a month makes, eh?
So, last time we spoke, there was a dour Scotsman in charge of the country and everything was doom, gloom and financial dire straits.
But now, if you believe our delightful national press, it's all onwards, upwards and hey, ho, hey ho, it's off to work we all go...
*wipes tear of laughter from eye*
Sorry 'bout that. Well it's good to know we have a couple of new leaders, only one of which was chosen by his holiness, St Murdoch of the Everlasting Media Empire.
Meanwhile, in other news, I was recently at an awards event to praise youngsters in Plympton who had made the new posters for a Stay Safe campaign. The campaign had been organised by two rather dynamic PCSOs who threatened to set me alight with a Zippo if I didn't attend. Lots of positive stuff was said about the efforts being made to keep Plympton off the top-10-most-dangerous-places-to-live chart.
While there I was collared by a member of the city's safety partnership who, like many of their partner agencies - particularly those in the city council - reminded me that the fear of crime in Plymouth was mainly, if not solely, down to The Herald's coverage of crime.
Basically, their argument goes that everything would be rosy in the city if only I stopped writing those horrible stories about crimes that occur, and my colleagues stopped going to magistrates or crown court and writing about people who got done. Or not, depending on how well the CPS were doing that week...
Needless to say, this argument appears well thought out and is clearly scientifically proven.
However, I believe it only works on the basis of certain factors...
They are that:
a) eveyone in the city can read,
b) they read The Herald and nothing else,
c) they think that every time there's a crime in Plymouth, no such crime ever occurs anywhere else in the UK,
d) there is no other crime in the rest of the UK,
e) crime in Plymouth is clearly worse than anywhere else in the UK,
f) someone getting assaulted by a drunk chavette in the city centre on a Saturday night means they will get assaulted as they go to post a letter tomorrow morning and every morning for the rest of their lives,
g) every time they read about someone being arrested, charged, sent to court and convicted it proves the criminal justice system just doesn't work, and
h) the criminal justice system clearly doesn't work because crime - like sexually transmitted diseases - still hasn't gone away.
My retort is the same:
a) not writing about crime does not make it go away
b) the public have a right to know what's going on in its city - both the good and the bad
c) if you're only looking for the "bad" stories, they're easy to find
d) if you're only looking for the "bad" stories, you'll ignore, miss or skip the "good" ones. Like this one or this one which has been busy everyday since, or this which made me smile or this which shows that people in Plymouth aren't apathetic, they just need the right cause to get passionate about.
f) what do you mean you've never heard of him? Dead Greek guy? Ordered to roll a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity?
h) yeah, it's an analogy about crime always being around since Abel and Cain and no matter how much police do, it'll always be there.
i) okay, so it's not a perfect analogy. Sometimes the boulder is either bigger or smaller and sometimes Sisyphus may be actually causing it to roll down again by being rubbish, or bent or too fluffy, or too much the tough guy.
j) alright then, it's like the bloody rain in Plymouth - never-ending, but not so bad if you prepare yourself with a brolly, a raincoat and a pair of wellies. That better?
By this stage, the person telling me that the fear of crime is caused by my reports in The Herald is looking at me as if I've just put my John Thomas in their cup of coffee. Even before I've let it go cold.
I'd be interested to know what you lot think. (No, not about what I do with other people's coffee... just about whether reading about crimes and appeals for witnesses in the paper means you think we live in a crime-ridden city)
Take into account:
a) I don't know about every crime in the city,
b) I don't write about every one I do know about, and
c) I would like to paraphrase Bill Hicks, 'this [Plymouth] is Hobbitown and I am Bilbo Eve, okay? This is a land of fairies and elves, and sailors and people with funny 'ooh-arr' pirate-like accents. You do not have crime like I had crime back in south Essex.'
Answers on a boulder please to the usual address.