News prefers dead people who don’t talk back. Preference this week for a partic pic of the pasty-faced junior Philpott posse, before their wholly detached parents (now jailed for manslaughter) torched their semi-detached council house causing all five boys and a girl to die of smoke inhalation. Painted it black. Small white coffins funeral black. Six rascals who never got the chance to turn into scallies or neds or bus drivers or doctors and nurses. Never looking after us or coming after us now: we can talk over them, drowning out whatever they might have said. I say, I say, I say: in the pic that’s all over the news this week, they look the way the ‘ello darling boy sounded. You’ve heard the clip? Pre-teen kid in a Billericay hospital broadcast saying hello to his darling girlfriend, followed by a dirty laugh he’s learned from someone lots older. Famous soundbite; but the boy was never heard of again, despite the BBC’s best efforts. Died in that hospital, probably; and now if I want to I can put him next to the Philpott Six and freely associate a whole mortuary of Artful Dodgers. Other adults having their way with these children include the prime minister and the chancellor of the exchequer (gone a bit Billericay hisself recently), describing the Philpotts as victims of their father’s welfare dependency. At this the shadow chancellor cries ‘cynical’; meanwhile Derby County Football Club uses the Philpott kids to get the crowd crying, asking everyone to remember children they never knew. Even Derby police have to give vent to their feelings. They are reported as saying ‘this has to be one of, if not the most upsetting cases any of us has ever investigated.’ (Perhaps their written statements make grammatical sense.) But there I go again, abusing the freedom to sound off. When Brian Clough was alive and kicking as manager of the Rams, and working class people counted for something in Britain, surely these dead children would have been allowed to stay dead: eyes closed instead of staring out from a family photo; covered up in respectful silence.