Everywhere, people are talking about what might have really happened to Madeleine McCann that night in Praia da Luz. Armchair detectives weigh up claims about cadaver dogs, fluids from decomposing bodies, disputed timelines and the low profile of the 'Tapas Seven'.
Amateur psychologists scrutinise Kate and Gerry McCann, wondering what their composure under pressure really means.
We stare goggle-eyed at the front pages, as they reprint what Team McCann dismisses as "lurid" speculation in the Portuguese Press.
What to make of it? The story swings one way, then another.
Some commentators blame public prurience and the 'tabloids' for an unseemly feeding frenzy. But that's convenient - and wrong.
For it was the McCanns who immediately involved us all in the events that engulfed them on May 3 with a global media campaign to find their daughter. Madeleine's face, with that distinctive coloboma in her eye, became as familiar to us as our own.
Many people took the melody of Don't You Forget About Me literally. They won't - and for good, decent, honest motives. They need to know what happened to the child and who hurt her.
The problem with the Madeleine McCann story - and the real reason why it feels so unsavoury - is that it is now spinning out of control.
Let me be blunt: there was always, in PR terms, an element of spin in this story.
That goes back to the night Madeleine disappeared from the apartment where she'd been left with her twin brother and sister while her parents dined at a tapas bar some distance away.
They and their friends say they checked on their unattended children, but many people's instinctive reaction was that they'd been neglectful.
There was 'criticism in reverse' of the McCanns. It was said if they'd been working class parents they'd have been slated for such behaviour. That's probably true, not least because people have higher expectations of doctors.
Understandably perhaps - what parents wouldn't feel wretchedly guilty? - the McCanns didn't want to dwell on the details of that evening. That was " unhelpful", even "hurtful".
But over the past fortnight, since more critical stories began appearing in the British Press, their spin machine has been very busy indeed.
Mr McCann, we are reliably informed, has personally rung some editors to state his innocence.
Last week one paper ran 'Kate and Gerry: our story' complete with a First Communion picture of Mrs McCann and a photo from Mr McCann's footballing days -unedifying in a weird celebrity kind of way.
At the weekend, some friends vouched for them as good parents, illustrated with wedding day shots.
Of course, the purpose is clear: the McCanns protest their innocence and are disturbed at being formal suspects in the killing of their own daughter and the disposal of her body.
But one of the strange aspects of the case is that the perception of innocence or guilt is almost being determined by the magnitude of the law firms and QCs on one side and the Prosecutors and Judges on the other.
For every ordinary legal functionary doing their job in Portugal, there is almost a celebrity on the McCann side. In addition to Sir Richard Branson forking out on legal fees, one of their 'top lawyers' is none other than Michael Caplan QC, formerly hired by one Augusto Pinochet to fight extradition.
And now we're told that Clarence Mitchell, originally seconded from the Foreign Office to assist the couple - a move that raised eyebrows in itself - is to step down from his government role and become their new Media Advisor.
Ex-hack Mitchell has lots of experience. But he is a government man, and the move will only spark more controversy and conspiracy theories.
One problem for Team McCann is that the sophisticated Noughties' public recognises when a story is being 'managed'. Even though it also knows there may be perfectly good reasons why that may be so, the device jars. Getting the message across can easily, if unfairly, translate into: what are they hiding?
The time has come for us all to take a step back.
For the McCanns - all of them - to afford themselves some privacy.
For the media to take a breather.
For the Government, even by implication, to keep out of a serious criminal investigation.
And for due process to take its course.
When Maggie met Gordon...
Oh dear, maybe Gordon should have called an October election after all?
With scenes at Northern Rock reminiscent of Wall Street and the Great Crash, the honeymoon seems to be well and truly coming to a end.
Witness the general reaction to the PM's 'brilliant coup' of inviting Lady Thatcher for a cup of tea, a love-in and a chat about 'conviction politics'.
General bafflement dashed with a cynical shrug of the shoulders - what else would you expect from Gordon? Commentators poured through cutting files from the '80s for Gordon's rather trenchant attacks on Maggie.
And judging by the quotes, the overriding conviction Gordon had then was that the Iron Lady was a heartless Nazi who should be run out of town with pointed sticks. So, how could he square that circle? More tellingly many on the left reached for their George Orwell: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."
While the focus has naturally been on the PM, one also has to ask just what Mrs Thatcher thinks she is up to?
Is she just a limelight junkie suffering so badly from withdrawal symptoms she'd do just about anything for one more front page? And what's with the red dress?
Right-wing Tories mutter darkly of Cameron 'thrashing' the Thatcher legacy. Perhaps.
But they should worry more about Thatcher's constant trashing of the Conservative Party.
The only 'convictions' that Maggie and Gordon seem to share is that one of them should be in No 10.
And that the Tories be put to the sword. (Again.) A sting in the tail
So why was Sting photographed outside a notorious Hamburg brothel - sorry, private club - this week?
Mmm. Probably looking for Roxanne to tell her to she doesn't have to put on the red light. Or, indeed, wear that dress tonight.
I suppose next week we'll see the Tantric One standing outside a disused pit in South Yorkshire to re-enact his classic Canary In A Coalmine (yeah, you don't often hear that one mentioned in Q magazine interviews by Gordon).
And the following week? Walking On The Moon, of course. Which he probably owns anyway.
(Our legal department would just like to take this opportunity to state that in no way did Mr Gordon Sumner, otherwise the artist known as Sting, set foot inside the aforementioned Relax Brothel ... sorry ... club. No way. Heaven forbid etc.
And any claims to the contrary are nothing but Do Do Do Do. Da Da Da Da.)
All of the pleasure and much of the blame
You remember the old joke - so old Mike Yarwood probably used it in a routine involving Ted Heath and Harold Wilson: "Prime Minister, what are we going to do about the Prostitution Bill?"
The Government is reportedly considering a radical overhaul of our archaic sex laws to make it an offence punishable by prison for a man to pay a woman for sex.
Of course, this being new Labour, politically correct mad Victorianism rules the day. Only straight men would be punished: it would still be ok for men to hire men, women to hire men and women to hire women. (I think that just about covers it).
To which one can only conclude that women and those of a 'minority orientation' must be paragons of virtue: they simply wouldn't do that sort of thing.
And yet ... the Government could be on the right lines. Buying sex should be as illegal as selling it. The sex industry today is mired in sickness; its basis is not the selling of sex per se but savage violence against women.
The days of the quaint 'knocking shop' are long gone: today many of the women involved are little more than sex slaves from eastern Europe. This isn't a cottage industry bringing a little comfort into some men's dreary lives. This is organised crime.
It's also organised misogyny.
And those who avail of the new prostitution know in their wizened hearts they are just as bad as the bosses and the pimps.
Of course, the amateur hour shannigans behind the City Hall in Belfast are, in some ways, just sad. But our legislators up on the hill know what happens in Britain today, will happen here tomorrow. At the very least, new legislation might scare the kerb-crawlers around Hamilton Street and stop residents being propositioned by sleaze bags.
The current situation is like the old Victorian music hall song: "It's the man what gets the pleasure and the woman what gets the blame."
That's not right.
I suspect for many of these low lifes the 'naming and shaming' proposals of a few years ago wouldn't be enough. It's time to show them that 'doing some bird' can have another meaning entirely.