I am ashamed of this country at times. This condition once again flared up on my arrival at John Lennon Airport, as plastered quite liberally throughout the airport were posters of Madeleine McCann, both her 3 year old self and her ‘photo fit’ supposed 7 year old self. It feels like a ridiculously brazen act on their part, not to belittle the loss of a child, which I imagine is the worst thing that can happen to a parent, far beyond my comprehension. Yet my sympathy is somewhat diminished in light of the self inflicted nature of the incidence; leaving your child unattended in an unlocked room is equally incomprehensible to myself.
While the media attention has undoubtedly diminished, it’s clear that the McCann PR machine continues to run strong if only in light of Maddie’s appearance at the airport. Not only did the soulless computer-generated eyes of her hypothetical self linger across the majority of the advertising space made available at the airport, but her mother’s book recounting the incidence takes centre stage at the various WHSmiths on offer. The whole affair feels like a massive post-modern joke; an unreleased sketch from Monkey Dust, where as a society we have managed accept that there be only one lost child worth our attention (or lack of, depending on your perspective), a Schrödinger’s cat of a celebrity. In the wake of the initial hype, I expected a lesser media copy to appear, a Deep Impact to McCann’s Armageddon, to which I could overhear in the streets “Aaw it’s like that Maddie thing all over again!” as if the benchmark was set in child abductions. While condescending it would still have heightened awareness, this didn’t happen, nothing happened, the continuing stream of abductions and missing children remained unreported and uncared about to society.
That’s really where my disdain lies, that this family have profited from the tragedy to such a large extent, continuing to do so 5 years on. I understand that parents will do all in their power to protect (in this case return) their children. Sadly Madeline was not the only child to be abducted that year or any subsequent year since. Where have their 5 year campaigns been? Where have their 5 years of support from respective governments been? Their book deals? Or is this level of support limited solely for the well-to-do and media-savvy families? Yes it would seem so, as they’re the first to do so and as a nation we can’t deal with too much tragedy, so we’ll allow one through and then fixate. This trend was once again highlighted with Jimmy Carr’s tax scandal. While certainly not the only one to do it and definitely not the largest offender, it’s easier to pinpoint him “coz e’s from the TV” ahead of say, major Tory contributor George Robinson, embroiled in the same scheme. We’re still waiting for Cameron’s moral condemnation of Mr Robinson.
So no, despite your last minute reminders, I shan’t be looking for Maddie in Estonia. Not till the Maddie stops being a commodity sold at the expense of others looking.