Monday, March 14, 2011


That was odd. I don’t know how it happened, but for a few minutes today, the BBC’s online coverage of the post-quake scenario in Japan was running backwards. Not out of sequence: properly backwards, waves receding, boats reassembling, flames shooting back inside a nuclear power station and being capped by the intact roof, emergency teams yanking loaded stretchers out of ambulances, death and disaster unhappening itself before our eyes. All accompanied, of course, by a suitably Lynchian narration. And because, for most of us, the image and the reality have become inextricably confused, I almost – almost – half-believe that it really is unhappening, that it really all was a bad dream. And then some anonymous Beeb techie realised what was happening and pressed the right button – or unpressed the wrong button – and it all went horribly real again. Except that it was as if you’d seen the Wizard of Oz on the toilet, and for a while, the vile reality still felt a bit dreamy.

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