For a while, I was paying for a subscription to the Guardian app, which gives you a marginally less annoying experience for £10 a month (although I think I got 50% off that for a while).
But over time, these various subscription leeches are sucking you dry, so it’s sensible to go in and cancel things and start from scratch occasionally. (Kids? Can I cancel Disney+ yet? Please?)
So I cut my running costs by cancelling the Guardian for a bit, which makes it slightly more annoying to use. In the meantime, The Times (always paywalled) was offering three months for £1.29 a month (even cheaper if you do it on the web rather than through the app). This is only ever going to be a short-lived flirtation, because they want TWENTY SIX QUID a month after the trial period.
Haha! Keeps the riffraff out, I suppose.
I don’t need to detail here why the Guardian is annoying. There is no such thing as a left-leaning quality newspaper, so it’s all we have. You just have to put up with its centrist ways and the tappety-tap-tap of hot takes appearing all day long. On the other hand, there are some great writers (Marina Hyde, Zoe Williams, Rafael Behr) in amongst the annoying dross and Monbiot’s counterproductive catastrophising. The recipes are often great; but there are vast swathes of wasteland, pointless live blogs and frankly perverse TV recaps. The grown-ass adults who comment in vast numbers on the Doctor Who recaps are a particular low point.
One particular bugbear I have is the way that the Books page will frequently offer two reviews by different writers of the same book. Sure, I know the Observer is the fictive sister newspaper, but c’mon. Let’s see some joined up thinking, and throw out some review crumbs for a wider pool of writers. The other thing that makes me laugh is when you come across two comment pieces that are more or less at odds. I know this is the Guardian being a broad church and an open platform, but what I really want is for them to pick a fucking side and stop wringing their hands and plumping for the Liberal Democrats. Every. Single. Fucking. Time.
There aren’t enough eyeroll emojis in the world.
Here’s how I find The Times to be a bit of a breath of fresh air, in comparison. Mostly, it’s because it feels more like a newspaper, with a fresh edition each day. This does get updated a few times, but mostly there’s a sense – especially on the News pages – of starting fresh. This is also true of the Comment section. The tone here is very much about keeping the riffraff out of our society. So although Times Comment is predictably full of all of the worst possible takes you can imagine (example: it’s really unfair that parents who pay expensive school fees are seeing their horrible offspring overlooked in favour of bright state school kids when it comes to places at Oxford), these stupid takes don’t stick around like a bad smell for days on end, like they do at the Guardian.
The Times has some good puzzles, too.
I’m not going to make too much of the fact that I fundamentally disagree with The Times’ columnists on most things, but I think it is kind of useful to see how the opposition think, to know exactly what you’re up against. This is not because I think I need to look outside my bubble or some such self flagellating thing. It’s because, as the man said, it’s the hope that kills you. It’s when you read the Clarksons and the Corens and the India Knights and the Rob Liddles (or, if I’m honest, just the headlines) that you realise the size of the problem. It’s all very well the Guardian crew telling us what the government absolutely must do to address poverty/climate etc.; but when the ruling classes are talking about getting cashback by recommending investment firms to your rich friends, there is no hope. Gotta pay those school fees somehow, even if the playing field is STACKED against them.