Express & Star

Toby Neal on politics: London is a capital cut off from the reality of UK life

"Fog in Channel – Continent cut off."

Headlines can suit any agenda

It allegedly once appeared in The Times, one of a number of headlines which have passed into legend.

There's a myth that, when the Titanic sank, the Aberdeen Press & Journal looked for the local angle – which we in the regional press always like to find – and ran a headline which read: "North-east man dies at sea."

And doubts have been raised about Claud Cockburn's claim that he won an in-house prize on The Times for the dullest headline with "Small Earthquake In Chile. Not many dead."

I can however attest to the authenticity of "Now Is The Time To Get Dug In" used with a gardening feature... on an obituaries page.

So far as I know there is no branch of research with involves the study of headlines, but in a few words they can tell you a lot, not just with the words themselves, but in revealing where people are "coming from," as we say nowadays.

This week's announcement of the opening of a new oil field off Shetland was not reported as "Jobs Joy At Oil Field Go-Ahead," (unless the Shetland paper took that angle), but instead "Climate Change Disaster Fears As Government Triggers End-Is-Nigh Catastrophe." Or something like that.

Back to the Continent being cut off. Here's an alternative headline which could, but isn't, likely to be used in relation to HS2. "HS2 Axed – London Cut Off."