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All the world’s a TV screen

Ding, dong, the witch is dead
The wicked witch is dead

On August 16 1977 I woke up to the news that Elvis Presley had died.

On August 31 1997, I woke up to the news that Diana, Princess of Wales had died.

On May 2 2011 I woke up to the news that Osama Bin Laden was dead.

The news of ‘The King’s passing – in particular the manner of it – rocked the music world and anyone old enough to immediately break into song whenever they hear the words ‘one for the money’.

The untimely death of Diana, Princess of Wales, or at least the public reaction to it, rocked the monarchy to its core and thrust two grieving children into the spotlight in the grimmest way possible.

The blanket media-coverage yesterday of the death of Bin Laden – top of the USA’s Most Wanted list – was, I suppose, only too appropriate a way of ending off a weekend where people – those given the extra bank holiday off anyway – were either glued to the TV to watch the Royal Wedding or desperately trying to find a way to avoid it.

Which of those events will turn out to have had the biggest, most-lasting effect on the world only time will tell.

Like most people I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard about the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon – interviewing a marketing manager on the phone a few feet away from where I’m writing this now.

The fact that the architect of that appalling tragedy is now dead will, hopefully, provide closure for the families and relatives of those killed in that and other attacks. Even though the coverage reads more like an episode of 24 or the West Wing, especially since the body has already been buried at sea.

Will it, however, make the world a safer place? Probably not. Will the fact that Bin Laden has not been living as a freedom fighter in a cave but in some luxury in a compound make a difference to how his followers feel about him? Possibly, but probably not.

It’s been an odd few weeks, what with the unseasonably good weather, the late Easter break and the two bank-holidays. With a bit of luck it will have done wonders for any merchants wanting to sell decking or landscaping products. And a bit of patriotic fervour is usually good for consumer confidence. But I think it’s time to get back to normal now. Whatever that is.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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