Does Fictional Crime Mirror Real Life?

As long term readers of this blog will know, I’m a fan of crime fiction, both in terms of the written word, but also on TV. The last few weeks of TV have been particularly good, with there being something new to watch nearly every night of the week (barring live FA cup matches and other sporting interludes).

It set me thinking that with all the crime shows on TV, does it really reflect real life, or is it perhaps a bit of gratuitous entertainment?

So picking this past week as an example here’s what’s been on the main terrestrial channels and the body count:

Sunday: Vera (ITV1): 2 murders

Monday & Tuesday: Silent Witness (BBC1): 6 murders

Wedesday: Midsummer Murders (ITV1): 3 murders (nearly 4, but Ch. Insp. Barnaby saved the day in the nick of time).

The BBC is also showing Death In Paradise and Shetland on Thursdays and Fridays respectively, both great shows, but for the purposes of this calculation I’m going to exclude them. The reason being is that the data from the Office for National Statistics covers only England and Wales and therefore the two shows are outside of that jurisdiction. I’ve also excluded repeats and reruns on other channels because they technically are in the past, the above are new / current series never shown before.

So fictional body count from above = 11 (in under a week), so rounded up (11 x 52 = 572). Compared to the figure of 534 for “homicide” in the above ONS statistics (Year April 2014 to March 2015, the most recent stats available).

So gratuitous entertainment? It doesn’t really feel like it is, although the numbers whether they are fictional or actual are quite shocking. Given the ebb and flow of the TV crime shows, the numbers will go up and down week to week, as shows come to the end of their run and are off air before new ones start.

Obviously some longer term analysis might be useful, but as snapshot it appears that perhaps the numbers are not far from reality, and compared to ten years ago when the number of actual homicides was 868, and the number of crime shows on TV probably less, perhaps it’s not a bad reflection (sadly) of real life, if it is somewhat over dramatised for entertainment.

 

2014 Review and a Look Ahead

I don’t tend to do review of the year posts each year, sometimes I’ll take a theme and just cover that, other times I won’t bother at all. The latter is more often the norm. 2014 however has been a “bit of a year” for me. So I thought I’d just write out a few highlights and one or two low bits too for good measure.

Work

I’d say that the year as a whole has been backdropped by work-life balance, with the balance being unevenly tilted towards work. I’ve had to reapply for my job as part of a restructure, and it’s been pretty full on. I’ve been offered voluntary redundancy twice (and we’re just going for a third round now), I’ve not applied on both occasions, but am giving the third time some serious consideration.

Life

On the life side of the scale it’s been a tiring year. I’ve done far less, due to pressures of work than I would like. I’ve noticed that I’ve been far less present on social media platforms, as well as reading less books and generally having less time for relaxation.

We lost Sparky our elder dog back in March, and then got Ruby at the end of June. I still miss Sparky every day, and things still feel very empty without him around. Wilson has taken well to being the older dog, and I’m really pleased and impressed with the way he’s turned out into such a well rounded dog.

Allotment

The allotment has been going along quite happily, it’s not been the best of years, but it’s been far from the worst, and I’m setting a good basis for next year. I’ve managed a few video posts, and have a year ending one to go up, as soon as it’s posted to YouTube.

Books

As I mentioned I’ve read far less than I have done in previous years, mainly due to having less free time. I would however single out a few books I’ve read (I read these in 2014, but they may not have been published this year) to mention here:

The House of Dolls by David Hewson – There’s no such thing as a  bad book by David Hewson, and this new series set in Amsterdam has all the hallmarks of being fantastic. This first in the series is excellent and I look forward to reading the next one, hopefully in 2015.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline – This took me back to my childhood and the computer games that I used to play.

The Burning Room by Michael Connelly – The latest Harry Bosch, and a great addition to the canon, and likely to be a milestone step in the series. I’m not sure where Michael Connelly is going next here, but there are a number of options, and again I look forward to the next in the series. (I also loved the Amazon pilot of Bosch, and can’t wait for the full series).

Films

Again, a few to single out (and again I watched them in 2014, but they may have been released before that year):

Dawn  of the Planet of the Apes – Only recently watched this, but I loved the direction that the movie went in following on from the previous one, and abandoning the Charlton Heston era movies (and the awful Mark Wahlberg remake).

Captain America: The Winter Soldier – I love the Marvel movies (and the comic books too), and I’ve seen a few others this year as well; Thor: The Dark World and The Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s a close choice between Capt. and Guardians, but again, I think the way that the story and characters have been bought on since the first Captain America movie, plus Avengers: Assemble give this one the edge.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Loved this. Wasn’t sure that it would ever work as trilogy of films, but it does. Looking forward to the final film too, although that will be a 2015 watch for me.

Godzilla – A remake that remain truer to the original and a great film.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – I’ve never read the books, but love the films, again looking forward to the final two parts of this series too.

And Looking Ahead to 2015?

I’m not sure what 2015 holds. More upheaval at work I expect, and I need to make a decision about voluntary redundancy again. There will also be more  books to read and more films to watch. I don’t really do resolutions, but I’ve got a few aims for 2015.

  1. Be more balanced of temper. I think in part 2014 has been characterised by me having a shorter fuse than usual. I’m not happy about this, so want it to change. More counting to ten I suspect in 2015.
  2. Better work – life balance than above.
  3. Read more, although be realistic about what’s achievable. I also want to get through the “To Be Read” backlog mountain. Although I’m not setting any firm systems in place to do this as I have in the past.
  4. Have a good year on the allotment, and try to keep a better photo and video record of what’s going on there.
  5. Write more. Both blog posts, but also get back into writing properly.

There are lots of other things in my head (you could always add; lose weight, be fitter etc) but the above are the main aims.

Words

Everyday I pick up my notepad and pen.

Sometimes I write, but most days I don’t.

There are ideads and occasionally those ideas make words.

Mostly they don’t, but once in a while they do.

What the words make might be good or it might be bad, but the fact that there are words on the page of my notepad is good.

Beach Hut

You could easily get bored of this, unless it was your choice.  Sitting day after day, in all weathers watching the tide come in and go out.  Between April and September is when the Council think it’s busy, because that’s when they open the toilets, but really it’s busy all year, just the people are different between October and March.

Day after day you can watch the people.  They come and they go, some together, others alone; Dog walkers, sun worshippers, some just taking the air.  They all look at the huts, some look at me in mine, the candy striped one, with the porthole, for effect.

I’ve seen a lot, blossoming love, arguments, indifference and dispassion.  The milk of human kindness and the scum of the earth, they all come here eventually.  One day they won’t because it will be gone, reclaimed by the sea long after I’m gone. Just the tide coming in and going out.