There are many things wrong with the Guardian comment pages, but one of the worst of late has been the increasing bizarre spectacle of the free rein given to former diarist Marina Hyde who writes on anything from pop to politics (wags, Posh Spice, Beckham).
Is it just me or is she hopelessly out of her depth when she strays from the more pop side of life?
Today’s piece, “Whatever happened to name, rank and number?”, is excruciatingly poor and obnoxious. I winced as I read it, before wondering why it was allowed to descend into nonsensical gibberish and still be published?
Like many other armchair military strategist Marina is unhappy with the conduct of the 15 British sailors and marines. Like the English football team she feels they have let us down although she never once comes out and says why. It’s a ramble without much of a point other than several mentions of nostalgia (her grand father, the Germans…yawn).
After wading through some laboured Ryder Cup golf metaphor (the suits, geddit?) Marina slips into armchair general mode stating for the record, should we be in any doubt, that:
“I have never been held hostage or even boarded a ship to check that its cargo papers were in order. Nor have I played international football against Andorra. But we can none the less expect certain standards from those who volunteer to perform these various duties on our grateful behalf.”
Andorra – we’re back to football already? These standards are the same ones that the Daily Mail has been thundering about these last few days as it bemoans the fact that these 15 sailors and marines did 1) not put up a fight; and 2) became puppets of the Iranians.
“Now that is out of the way, it seems reasonable to at least wonder whatever happened to only divulging one’s name, rank and number. Clearly that has been deemed a rather outmoded concept.
“The world saw them thank their ‘fantastic’ captors, and rifle through the goody bags provided by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in full view of the cameras – after they had been committed into British naval hands. No doubt they’re all being talked up for VCs by the time you read this, but it would be a tall order to sell the saga as an unalloyed success.”
Marina has no doubt reached this conclusion as the rest of us have with our military training and experience of being taken hostage after days spent blindfolded and locked in rooms.
It seems Marina should have wandered over to the Guardian’s news desk where they were writing up the story about how the group thought they were about to be executed:
“The British hostages held captive in Iran for a fortnight yesterday told of the moments they thought they were about to be executed by their captors as the first full account of their ordeal was made public.
“The most frightening time was when the 14 men and one woman, Faye Turney, were lined up against a wall, handcuffed and blindfolded. They heard weapons being cocked and some of them thought they were about to be shot.”
Who would not have been thankful on the verge of their release after having been through such a frightening experience?
At this point Marina borrows from the Daily Mail and rattles on to tell us that more worthy of serious consideration is the fact that several former senior military figures have taken the step of speaking out against the charges of luminous heroism. What she is actually talking about here is the Daily Mail from which she starts to quote with one Lt General Sir Michael Gray calling the whole thing a “shambles”. Maybe that is Hyde’s point. Only 3-0 against Andorra? What a shambles.
Not one to quit she continues her descent comparing the whole affair to the iconography of the “Big Brother house” and berates the 15 for emerging and asking for “space”. The cheek of it all.
This piece would have been better off in the Daily Mail except that it would have been spiked and rewritten by someone who could…errr actually write a coherent piece on the subject. Just a guess.
For tips though Marina need not look very far. Simply turn the page in her Saturday morning copy of the Guardian to the paper’s leader page, “Brave but bewildered”, where the writer praised the 15 for behaving honourably and rationally while their captors did neither. Quite so.
The paper went on to rubbish the Daily Mail and co and criticisms it dished out. The leader said quite rightly that the clear and intelligent explanations given by seven of the captured men at yesterday’s press conference “squashed such ignorant and premature criticism”. So that’ll be squashed Hyde then.