Taking Stock - 19 September 2011

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It’s time to come clean. There’s no other way of putting this – I’m an addict.

What, you ask, is it I’ve managed to get hooked on? Cigarettes? Alcohol?

No, it’s... 24-hour news.

It all started a few weeks ago, when the Sky installers arrived at Stocks Towers.

Up to now I’ve resisted the allure of Mr Murdoch’s subscription telly, preferring the cable offering from that beardy chap with the airline.

But circumstances dictated a switch, and the call was made.

After the installer chaps had looked at the roof, made one or two of those mechanic noises (you know, the ones made through gritted teeth, in an ‘I don’t really want to do this’ or ‘It’ll cost you’ kind of way) and laid out enough cable to straddle the Atlantic, it was time to turn on the magic lantern.

And, to be honest, it’s hardly been off since – what with the cartoons, so-called lifestyle channels, and everything which means I rarely see the remote, never mind choose the channel.

But, once in a while, I’m left to my own devices, and it’s then I can get my fix.

I can’t help but love the drama of it all.

Take Thursday morning as an example.

David Cameron was making a short-notice visit to Libya.

Cue reporter, live on a rooftop in Tripoli, speculating on the PM’s impending arrival.

There’s some wobbly footage of a plane.

“Is that the Prime Minister arriving?” is the question from the studio.

“Well,” replies an uncertain correspondent, “we’ve seen several aircraft this morning, so we’re not certain whether or not that was Mr Cameron’s.”

A simple shrug or ‘I don’t know’ would have sufficed, but instead the exchange continued, detailing where the PM was landing, possibly, what he was going to do, possibly, and what he’d had for breakfast, possibly.

All right, so I made the last one up, but you get the point.

The problem is, there’s a lot of time to fill, which is why these 24-hour chaps spend a lot of time repeating themselves.

This is particularly exciting when the news event in question hasn’t yet happened, in which case a range of experts, journalists, minor celebrities and, in the case of the BBC, taxi drivers, will be wheeled out to repeat their opinions ad infinitum until something different happens.

It’s all so unpredictable and utterly pointless.

But isn’t that the secret to all the best entertainment?

Sure, we all love a good talent show and celebrity on ice type shindig. But give me rolling news any day – after all, I’ve got to keep feeding that addiction.