Royally getting on my tits

Gah! So hands up high in the air and wave ’em like you just don’t care if you’ve managed to miss the whole broo ha ha about Kate being snapped topless in France!

Anyone who has must have been gratefully languishing in some sort of benevolent news coma. I envy you! I really do. Because the first thing that occurred to me when I heard about the pics was “I bet Nicholas Witchell’s seem them”. And that was it. Every time I see a newsreader grumbling on about the story or a byline, headline or newsticker flashing it conjures up an awful image of the BBC Royal Correspondent hunched over a computer grunting and groaning in breathless ecstasy as he downloads grainy image after grainy image of the new people’s princess (NPP) sans bra.

It’s an awful mental image, and one I can’t seem to shake. God I wish the coverage would stop, for my own sanity.

Even worse is the way it plasters Witchell all over the BBC like a reptilian fly poster, popping into shot as we see the Royals cavorting in the Solomon Islands to solemnly remind us that the world and his dog can now check out her highness’s rack by simply checking out google.He's a happy man

The story highlights everything that is wrong with the media. Not just the gross invasion of privacy that started it all off, but The sheer hypocrisy: the potted moralising, the holier than thou attitude. The entire British press and media have become obsessed with reporting the fact that they WON’T publish the pics.

Wow!

Except they WILL report the fact that they are NOT publishing the pics ENDLESSLY.

“Look at us! We’re not publishing these pictures. BUT here is where you can find them in the French, Irish & Italian press”

The degree of voyeurism is beyond discomfort. At the same time as NOT publishing the pics we’re being told WHERE they’re viewable and how many photos were taken. Every time a journalist reports the story look deep into their eyes. Past the glassy cue reading automaton on the surface. Past the vain preening diva underneath. Deep into their eyes. See that glimmer? The silent laughter underneath? That’s them saying “we’ve seen them. We’ve seen the royal boobies”

In fact many more people have probably seen them than would have if they’d just given the story the 2 minutes it was worth and moved on. I imagine google overheated on Kate Middleton Topless searches. My wife, who cares little for the Royals and even less for topless photos had a look, just to see what all the fuss was about.

So effectively the news, in publicly attempting to damn a story has privately succeeded in elevating it to a global phenomenon. Every editor in Europe must be privately ringing one another in undisguised glee, like some giggling illuminati convention of tit promoters.

Then there’s the hand-wringing. The moralising. The holier than thou headlines. “we would never do such a thing” – yeah right. Richard “Dirty” Desmond wants to cut ties to the Irish Star over the pics? The same dirty Des who made his name in porn and still parades topless females in his paper everyday. If it’s good enough for page 3 it’s good enough for Kate. Right?

“But NO!” cry the Sun and the Star. “This was an invasion of privacy. Page 3 is published with the models consent”

Don’t make me laugh! The press & media tabloid or otherwise have published endless kiss & tell stories and topless shots withou consent. Sarah Cox on a private beach on her honeymoon for fucks sakes! They’ve put an army of celebrities, minor & major through the same or worse on a daily basis.

“But they weren’t royalty” cries the furtive press back weakly.

Again. Bullshit. Sophie of Wessex got the full treatment with pictures of her being groped by Tarrant, of all people. And what about Pippa Middleton? Long lensed into the gutter because the gutter press decided she had a nice arse at the royal wedding. If the tabloid rags can squeak & squeal about how topless shots of Posh Spice by a pool are in the “public interest” then surely the ROYAL FAMILY are more so…. As much as I’d like to see the Windsors eking out their existence in an anonymous council flat in slough they do happen to be the most high-profile family in this fucking country.

Ho Ho ho – what a lad… this is ok.. isn’t it?

Not that I think topless shots of any sort could be construed as “in the public interest” – not unless the public interest is a society that wants to encourage fantasising, stalking and shameless voyeurism. But the decision to apply one tabloid rule for Kate and another rule for the rest of the world, including her own sister or others married into the Royle Family is of particular interest.

Perhaps it’s because she’s been touted as the new People’s Princess… and therefore has a Diana-shaped halo around her virginal bonce. Oh… but that would be the Diana that was relentlessly pursued into the side of an underpass by paps looking to sell their shots to an eagerly awaiting British tabloid press.

Actually the reason the press have come over holier than thou is more simple than that – it’s about self-preservation. Leveson, Mily Dowler phone tapping and, more recently, Hillsborough have brought the British Media into sharp focus. There’s been a public backlash so wide that the News of the World has had to shut its doors and editors everywhere have had to issue grovelling apologies and suffer the slings and arrows of Robert Jay. We’ve even seen another “End Page 3” campaign getting some popular support. The press are in the gutter themselves, and the only reason we haven’t seen Kate Middleton’s bits flashing out of the Sun and Star is because their editors are petrified that it will do them more damage than good.

Plan-A

Ok so

Silly season is upon us. The Olympics is over and the press & media are flailing around like a thresh in a barn clutching for husks and straws of news to throw about.

At this time of year things are normally pretty desperate, but now more so than ever. Last year there were riots to report. Just last week we had wall to wall coverage of the world’s biggest sporting event. Now there is a bleary-eyed collective press hangover as families go on holiday and the news grinds slowly to a halt. Sure there’s Syria (but that’s foreign stuff stupid) and a few other *actual* stories for the media to feed on, but where’s the FILLER? The pap that you put between news and sport.

At this time of year the press are generally at a loss. It’s a great time to put out press releases. Churnalism reaches new highs in the month of August. You could probably put out a press release about a giant mouse in your garden eating all your carrots and they’d be sending the paps round before you could say glis glis.

Yes that’s right. Sheep. Text messages!

That’s why A-levels day is such a special occasion. It gives the media something to focus their efforts on. All those people who spent the last 2 weeks in Olympic park living it up get dispatched to schools around the country in search of bouncy young girls.

And that’s the other thing about A-level day. It seems that for one day and one day only the press seem to collectively engage in the dubious practice of ogling at young girls (ahem, except the Daily Mail which runs its sidebar of shame all year round). To be honest this is nothing short of sinister. Last year the FT ran a piece on how the media thirst for images of pretty pubescent girls was so established that schools were actively trying to market their best looking girls for the press to come and take pictures in order to help school PR. The exploitation gave rise to a blog, SexyAlevels which poked fun at the whole practice (now closed but living on via twitter)

This morning the biggest shock for me was seeing BBC Breakfast interviewing a BOY about his results. It was so out of kilter I thought I’d passed into another dimension where we lived in a matriarchy or something.

Not just one boy, but TWO. Has the BBC been taken over by FEMINISTS?

But the lone boy interview will always be the exception. Today the media start girls off on a lifetime of objectification and exploitation in our society by trying to squeeze in as many shots of them giggling, whooping and bouncing around in delight as they open their results.

Watch out for pictures like this. You won’t be able to avoid them

Maybe they’ll throw in some tears, y’know , for the people in their audience who like to see girls crying. Then tomorrow, like it never happened, the press will be all straight-faced again. As though they never willingly sent out legions of camera crews and photographers to schools with the explicit aim of gathering and publishing images of 6th form girls! A convenient and collective amnesia where regular journos go back to raising their eyebrows at the Daily Mail sidebar of shame and make ‘tut tut’ noises.

There’s another annoying news agenda that seems to go out on A-level day too. Suddenly the media love to read out letters, texts and emails from Joe Public about how graft is the key to success. You know the one’s those generic missives that get repeated like a mantra on every news and radio channel after every A-level skit.

“Troy Michaels has texted in. He says ‘I got all D’s at A level and failed to get into University. Now I’m a billionaire playboy with a wife, mistress and yacht. And I got it all through hard work'”

“Billy Balls says ‘I failed everything, even my mental health check up, so I had to work in a factory. Now I own half of Westminster and it was all down to good honest graft'”

It strikes me as odd that these get rolled out with such vigour, but they perpetuate the myth that the society wants to perpetuate, that it is somehow meritocratic. It’s not kids! For every success story they hold up like a cardboard cutout there are thousands more who will spend a lifetime working their fingers to the bone without ever rising above a relatively low-level of income.

This man is a great success story. He is the son of a Barrister and attended one of the countries leading independent boarding schools in Buckingham

Hard work doesn’t equal success and we do not live in a meritocracy. Privilege, position, networking, education, luck. All these things and more are components of “success” (as defined by society). Good looks probably help too, just ask all the girls getting their picture taken today!

The final countdown

Ok. So. Today’s important. Right?

I know it’s important cos the sound of bells was ringing all around me as I got ready to go to work. I felt like a regular Quasimodo throwing myself around the house screeching and wailing. I looked out the window for the hordes of zombies or enemy tanks. Could Germany really be invading again? On such a lovely day?

No. It’s the Olympics. The fucking Olympics. A 2 week sporting event. Held in London. 30 miles from my home. That is what they were for.

Personally I can’t wait for the Olympics to start. Never mind that events started days ago. Nothing “really” starts until we have a pointlessly choreographed display of National vanity that wouldn’t be amiss in North Korea. Nothing starts til we have a condescending homage to a national health service that our national government is actively seeking to destroy.

I can’t put up the Olympic rings because I’ll probably get hung for it. So here’s an image the Olympic organisers couldn’t manage themselves

I’m gonna really enjoy the next few weeks. The spectacle, the sports, the crowded public transport. I’m going to relish every second like it’s bullet time. Not least because the ringing of the bells today marked the beginning of the end. The end of all the fucking media hype we’ve had to wash our faces in daily with no respite.

You see. The London Olympics actually started 7 years ago when we won the dubious honour of hosting them. Never mind Beijing and the glorious display of vanity that China treated us to. I remember all through the Beijing Olympics you could never go more than a minute of commentary without some frothing news anchor dribbling out platitudes and speculation of how London would compare. Even during the closing ceremony in Beijing, which hit home like a Matthew Bourne performance on acid, the talk was all about the ‘iconic’ red bus as Boris Johnson shambled around looking like a crumpled insurance salesman cadging the credit for an event his predecessor had won. Since then things have only intensified.

So yeah. Today marks the end of 7 years of the press and media collectively building to a national orgasm. By the end of tonight’s ceremony there will be pundits everywhere letting out a collective scream/groan/shout. Then we might be able to get on with things.

Think I’m joking. Over the last year not a single fucking day has gone by without an Olympic story in the press. Papers have been COUNTING DOWN the days on their front pages. Not from 5 days. Or 10. For an ENTIRE YEAR. “135 days to go to the Olympics” shouted from the front page as if I could give a fuck.

It got worse very quickly. I remember switching the telly on in May (yes. May. 2 months ago). The BBC had a whole crew out live reporting the arrival of the flame. They were providing vapid commentary of the helicopter’s movements as it carried the flame to our shore. They were vox popping the idiots who turned out to watch it arrive at some god forsaken hour. “You’re going to see the Olympic torch how does it feel”. Never mind that we have an ongoing insurgency and massacres in Syria. The news still found time to report the progress of the Olympic torch as it staggered around the country. Daily fucking updates on where a glorified zippo was hanging out on a 15 minute loop.

The Guardian have started offering a button for people to view the news “without” the Olympics. Nice but why do that now they’ve started? Now they’re relevant. Less so over the last 6 months. Probably because the Guardian loved the hype as well, especially gleefully poking shambolicisms like LOCOG’s branding guidelines and the G4S debacle. And these are “actual”  stories. They don’t include all the pap about what Bolt had for breakfast or who the latest ‘Team GB’ member is to sit in a photo booth advertising their Adidas shirt.

This is just a bit of whackiness. It is NOT – REPEAT NOT – a cynical advertising and publicity stunt.

So finally, the Olympics can begin. We can see people reporting on actual fucking events rather than speculating endlessly about what ‘might’ happen. Those Olympic correspondents who were appointed years ago can finally do their job instead of trying to crowbar an Olympic angle into everything.

And then the collective hysteria can die. We can look forward to a September when the news is truly a spent force. All the budget they blew in August will come back to haunt them. Olympics correspondents will become homeless, begging in the street for news chunks. After a collective national love-in we’ll all suddenly suffer massive hangovers as the realisation that we’re all skint and our economy is tanking kicks in again. Perhaps we should thank the Olympics for a bit of respite.

The end of all things

Ok so. Last night was billed as the second biggest football event in the sporting calendar.

The culmination of two years of qualifiers, group stages, knockouts. On top of that there was history in the making as well. Spain could lift an unprecedented third major football trophy in a row.

This was it. The big one. How would a television heavyweight like the BBC cover this? Bearing in mind that only a week before they’d drowned us in footage of Gazza’s tears in a rabble-rousing montage of hyperbolic knee jerk inducing imagery so strong that it even had my dog barking along to God Save the Queen like a humble citizen.

The final itself didn’t disappoint. Even the neutral was swayed by the way that Spain’s tika taka approach ripped through the Italians. Four goals. Super Mario getting emotional. What a game!

Well. Unless you’re the BBC.

You see, it seems that the BBC think the tournament came to an end last week when England crashed out. Despite the fact that the vast majority of Europe and the world aren’t actually English, the Beeb didn’t give the impression that they gave a flying toss about this game and the pomp and ceremony that surrounded it.

Like sulky kids who want to take the ball home cos they’re not deployed up front they decided that the final of the European cup was barely worthy of their attention.

Let’s start with the magnificent pre-match closing ceremony. A chance for the hosting nations to shine and show the world that they really can throw a party. Forget the early skirmishes between fans, Ukraine & Poland want you to know they did a good job in their no expense spared appeal to the world.

Well. To most of the world. The Beeb decided all that gubbins was wayyyyy less interesting than Lineker, Shearer, Hansen et al indulging in a quick round of dull-as-dishwater pre-match analysis where they talked about subjects as inciteful as Spain’s playing style, the genius of Pirlo/Iniesta and the volatility of Balotelli.

If you wanted to watch the culmination of enough spending on entertainment by Poland & the Ukraine to rescue Greece (for an hour) then you had to do it through that precious resource known as the red button. Otherwise you just got to hear Alan Shearer telling us that Spain were a good team.

Want to see this or see what Alan Hansen is wearing?

Then there was the game itself. Blimey what a game eh? Enough to get anyone excited. European finals. Spain rampant. The world cup awaits? I figure the only person watching who wasn’t excited was the ever-depressing presence of co-commentator Mark Lawrensen, who appeared to spend the entire game moaning about players making too much of being tackled and wondering why Liverpool ever sold Alonso. At one point I thought I heard him swear and I wondered about all the kids who stayed up late to watch the final as accompanied by his depressing dirge.

That was when things got weird. Cos the BBC must have thought of that. They only fucking had a red button offering CBBC commentary for kids. In a bid to escape Lawro’s suicide-watch banter I switched up immediately.

The result was a three-way-amphetamine-pumped-see-saw between unwitting genius, absolute banality and a nihilisitc absence of anything that had me laughing, cringing and wondering where the respect for the tournament had disappeared to in equal measure.

The CBBC presenters weren’t so much commentating, but having a conversation about football generally. But not a conversation you have in seasoned opinionated pub talk terms. A conversation you might have with someone who wants to know what football is but no-one knows in the conversation. So you just end up asking each other stupid questions until someone is brave enough to change the subject or physically kill the other two.

They barely noticed when Torres scored as they were having an argument about how to explain the offside rule. It was like listening to three twenty-year old Alan Partridges on student radio go at it. In fact my listening was greatly enhanced by imagining them as wearing Alan Partridge masks.

This image haunts my dreams now

Suddenly the football genuinely didn’t matter. It had been superseded by a farce that wouldn’t have looked amiss in The Thick of It. At one point a CBBC commentator pointed to the prophetic powers of a watcher who had texted in to say “Spain should win because Paella and Nachos are better than Pasta and Pizza” there then ensued a small debate about whether Nachos were Spanish. At some point Spain scored again but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered any more. The football was an afterthought. Farce was the true winner and society as we know it is approaching a spectacular climax of irrelevance.

The contempt shown by the media for any tournament when England crash out is encouraging though. Roll on the Olympics when we can hopefully expect to see the red button offering up the cast of in the night garden making excitable noises during coverage of the opening and closing ceremonies.

Anything’s got to be better than Sebastien Coe!

Ashes to Ashes

Ok so. What happened again last night?

Oh yeah. Our national team put in a piss-poor knockout display, held on for penalties, which they lost and the nation groaned a sigh of collective disappointment while a few mouth breathers decided to have a bit of a fight.

No surprises there. I’ve been feeling that hollow exhalation for years now. Despite my best intentions I still have a modicum of support for the national team. I have no idea why. It’s like smoking, a poisonous and vile compulsion towards self harm. To be honest I’ve cut down on the supporting habit pretty heavily. From the flag-wearing, shirt-sporting, pub-singing posterboy of 16 years ago I’ve managed to bring it down to the ‘watch it on the telly at home in a fug of apathy’ level.

My withdrawal from the England habit doesn’t stem from our failures though. Only an idiot stops supporting a team because they fail. The sort of idiot who doesn’t ‘get’ the idea of supporting. Winners don’t need support. Losers do. Supporting winners all the time is just basking in other people’s glory, which is a bit like stalking them.

No. I struggle to support our national team cos the players and a lot of the fans aren’t very nice people. And because the press & media are so fixated on falsely raising our hopes that the weight of excessive expectation is something of a national pastime.

Take last night for example. Did anyone watch that montage the Beeb ran before kick off? It was like a clip from the finals of x-factor. A series of emotional shorts set to a tub-thumping soundtrack designed to elicit nothing more than expectation, excitement and the secret feeling that we could do it. So much for the national press talking about lower expectations. The minute we lucked out against Ukraine by virtue of a disallowed goal people were already looking to a tasty repeat of the 96 semi against Germany (which we also lost on penalties).

Never mind that we couldn’t beat France in our first game, who Spain comfortably defeated without a striker… Where there’s a national press there’s hope. Except Lawro. If he’d provided the soundtrack to the England warm up montage perhaps the country would be waking up today feeling euphoric that we made it to penalties without conceding 10 goals. Personally I’m secretly relieved. If this is the media with low expectations then imagine what they’d be like if they won? God it would be unbearable. As would seeing John Terry holding the trophy aloft, so let’s be thankful for silver linings.

The timing is perfect anyway, we shift the national weight of expectation onto Murray at Wimbledon. And that should keep us going til the fucking Olympics, which we’ve spent the last fucking year counting down the fucking days to!!!

Know your enemy – Part 4 surely the end

Gah

Gah Gah Gah GAH.

Over a month. Over one fucking month. That’s how long it’s taking me to read one single copy of the Daily Mail.

Why? I mean the DM has been in the press for all sorts of titillating trolling reasons lately. First of all there was that whole Samantha Brick episode. You know the one? The one where the Daily Mail ran a piece by a women who moaned about how good-looking she woz when she wasn’t all that good-looking and the internet replied by saying she wasn’t that good-looking and she replied saying yes she was don’t be jealous and then she became all famous an’ stuff an’ she went on the telly an’ all the telly people laffed at her, an’ everyone felt a bit awkward cos’ it looked a bit like she wos bein’ used by the Daily Mail as a hate figure to send people like me to look at their website… so then the hole media got divided an’ Charlie Brooker got some sex toys out to make a laff on the telly an’ I made a laff at the telly an’ then Samantha Brick disappeared an’ mummy read me a story. It was the Hobbit. I like theHobbit.

SHE'S UGLY! No she's beautiful... NO she's irrelevant. Now go back to fucking sleep!

Yeah. Samantha Brick. Internet superstar. Someone no-one had ever heard of before was catapulted into every press orifice that she could be crammed into in the name of shameless self publicity. Hers and the Daily Mail’s. Good? Bad? Who cares! If it drives people to your website it wins. And the Daily Mail got that in spades didn’t they. They milked the whole affair dryer than a cow in a desert and bled Brick to death in the process.  Six stories later (that’s right the DM online dragged 6 stories out of her) I’d be surprised if she had anything left of her legendary beauty now. She’s probably just a flap of skin lying on a typewriter. Each new chapter in the saga brought in hundreds of thousands of unique page views, thousands of comments and left a bad taste in the mouths of millions.

But Brick’s not the only thing the Daily Mail’s been throwing out is she? I mean take this headline that I stumbled on a few days ago.

OMG the DM just made me LMFAO

It’s like the Daily Mail mother lode. There are internet Daily Mail headline generators that could not do justice to this. There’s no point in the Daily Mail even continuing as an entity now. They’ve done it. They’ve achieved their image of perfection. They’ve managed to get thieving Gypsies living in palaces into a stopry. Actually – the Daily Mail did even better than this. Because when it first came out I took a screenshot. It seems they’ve even had to tone down the headline.

THAT’S RIGHT – THE ABOVE IS TONED DOWN VERSION OF WHAT THEY REALLY WANTED TO SAY which was.

OMG I can't LOL at this because erm... it's actually really rather unpleasant.

With all this excitement spewing forth like black bile from the DM online you would think that the paper itself, you know: the one people usually pay for (not me ha ha I gets all my papers out of bins!) would be a real page turner. You would seriously think that with Brick, and Gypsies and twitterstorms and all that jazz, that the Daily Mail would be like a rollercoaster ride. Vomit inducing. terrifying, but ultimately quite thrilling and vaguely addictive.

Nope. I’ve struggled every day to pick it up. I’ve read classics in less time than it’s taken me to read one day of the Daily Mail.

Page 53 and we have recipes. What recipe would the Daily Mail throw up all over its loving audience do you think? The latest creation from Jamie? A bit of sexed up Nigella? Certainly not Blumenthal.. or potty mouthed Ramsay. Hold it. What’s this?

The Daily Mail - with recipes from the 80s to make you feel like the world never changed

A Tuna Pasta Bake? A TUNA FUCKING PASTA BAKE? I have NOT EVEN SEEN a tuna pasta bake in over 20 years. But here we are – in a paper caught in a time warp. They have recipes for dishes that died in the 80s. I’m surprised they don’t advice you to serve with SMASH and throw in angel delight for pudding!

And this is the point isn’t it. DM online is happy to titillate and troll the internet. Putting up pictures of children in bikinis and models wearing even less alongside fame-stalking pap shots and vile editorials to cajole and tease and insult the left while racking up the site visits and creating a vast web auddience bigger than the population of the UK. But when it comes down to it the paper itself is the media equivalent of weak tea. The pisswater you get when you use one bag for two cups and then spill a slosh too much of milk to boot. It’s tepid, watery, insipid and sits on the roof of your mouth til you find some thing else to wash it out with. That’s precisely why it has taken me over a month to consume 50 pages of one issue. Not because it’s shocking but mainly because it’s boring… and a bit soul destroying.

It’s boring because it knows its audience better than any other paper. They’re boring too. They’re boring, banal, selfish, fearful and probably old. No paper in the world can mirror its print audience better than the Mail can, in this respect, it deserves some actual credit for pandering exactly to the opinions and needs of its print readership. Don’t believe me? Well on pages 54 and 55 we get a view into the minds of the readers through the letters pages… and they’re even more disturbing than the editorials. I’ve made a point of reading all the letters. Twice. They’re absolutely batshit. They range from the gentle but pointless humour of the elderly to the evil troll fuelled hate of a rampant nazi. Have this to ease in gently…

ahh bless. Hold it. Someone writes this on a piece of paper and the Daily Mail published it? MENTAL

There’s even a poem.

A poem
About being
a fucking
Chameleon.

And there’s a limerick

A limerick about horses.

And someone sent in a picture of a monster munch crisp. They really did. A crisp that’s supposed to look like a dog. BUT IT REALLY LOOKS LIKE A CRISP NOT A FUCKING DOG.

There’s a letter entitled “knife crime” that is a genuinely angry rant about how young people don’t hold their cutlery properly these days. Seriously. It’s really angry. It starts off like this

“Has no-one else noticed the increasing number of people who are choosing to eat holding their knife and fork in an incredibly clumsy and ugly manner?”

There’s a letter complaining about the AWFUL AWFUL people at Fortnum and Mason and their poor hamper delivery service.

Oh and then you read something like this and just want to switch all your internal organs off simultaneously and let a small part of your soul shrivel up and die

If we spent the £20,000 per illegal immigrant with the aids virus on our border security they wouldn’t be here in the first place

After the letters there’s 4 pages of telly. Not sure why. I bet most of the people who read the Daily Mail still rake the Radio Times every week – although It’s interesting that the first “recommended pick” is a channel 5 documentary called “The Nazis and the Titanic” – what did I say earlier? Playing to their audience.

After that it’s all ads for a bit. Lots of stairlift ads. Lots and lots of stairlift ads. Oh and an amazing advert allowing people who did national service to buy a special national service medal. Seriously. You can buy a medal to commemorate that time you spend marching up and down the square – only in the Daily Mail would we see such a celebration of faux militarism.

After the ads we’re into the business and sport and that’s all I can take. Ever.

The lesson I’ve learned here is big and pretty important though. The Daily Mail won newspaper of the year because of one campaign. The Stephen Lawrence campaign. That’s it. Fair enough. But there is nothing else there to redeem it. In fact there’s not really much else there at all to be honest.

The Mail Online is a walking talking trolling, celeb pap snapping, hotbed of titillation and opinion that draws in the web in a mixture of disgust and fascination with all the gravital pull of a supermassive black hole. But the paper itself is as dull as dishwater. When you scratch the surface of the sensationalist front pages, draw the poison out of the vitriolic  opinion pieces and stop laughing, crying or scratching your eyes out at the letters pages you’re left with nothing but fluff and adverts. If the Daily Mail were a drink it would be a mainstream brand of sherry like Harveys Bristol Cream. It’s sweet sticky and cloying and it has the middle class pretensions that branded sherry had 30 years ago. But at the end of the day it’s still a dangerous fortified wine and if you consume too much of it you’ll it will poison your soul.

Know your enemy part 3

OK so… wow. Has it been that long? Where was I? It’s like a really bad dream. One where I’m frothing at the mouth screaming at the people around me… running down the street, tearing at my clothes crying… “they’re coming … they’re coming…. the immigrants are coming”.

Then I’m falling… endlessly falling, until hands reach and grab me, shaking me awake. And I’m here. Sat in front of a computer screen. The concerned faces that swam before me are gone. I’m out of the sanitorium and back home. And that was after just 22 pages of the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail I’ve promised myself to try to read cover to cover (well at least what I can manage). The Daily Mail that I found on the train on the 6th March and it’s taken me this long to get 22 pages into because …. because…. well I don’t want to go there again.

This is the least S&M pic of a straitjacket I could find

Page 23 and it’s back to the warm cuddly face of the Daily Mail – the grandmother you still love even though she sometimes says things like “Back in my day there was nothing wrong with calling them gollywogs” because she’s your granny, she loves you… besides, she was born in a different age … and she’ll probably be dead soon.

That’s right… Dad’s Army. Oh.. but it’s a bit sad because someone’s died. Hold it. And he only appeared in one episode of Dad’s Army?! This is actually utterly bizarre. The DM is reporting the death of Philip Madoc but is saying his most memorable role ever is appearing as a German U-Boat commander  in one episode of Dad’s Army? I’m gonna have to let that one wash over me.

Page 24 – Leveson. So in page order the death of someone who appeared in one episode of a sitcom in 1973 is more important than a national media enquiry? Mind you. At least it puts the boot into the met a bit – Go Daily Mail!

The Euphoria doesn’t last long mind. There follows a montage of random fear and loathing mixed in with a heavy dose of opinion that is hard to stomach… Woman poses as boy to seduce teenage girls. Chinese super-rich hunt polar bears. BBC wastes taxpayers money. Ooh pictures of David Beckham with his son! Best friends die at 99 (yes… that is a story). Union reps cost police £4.8m (just to hammer that into your fat kneejerk skull – that’s equivalent to 200 bobbies on the beat apparently – in fact the article, barely a few hundred words, manages to include “bobbies on the beat” 3 fucking times). Ha Ha someone called Rachel Ragg writes for the DM… which is a RAG! Geddit? Geddit? OK – I’m losing it here. Time out!

OOH LOOK – There’s a double fucking spread about … wait for it… no really. WAIT. THE FALKANDS WAR. Seriously – forget the 30 year time gap. The DM is adapting a book in a bid to let the jingoistic nostalgia junkies bask in every British victory ever and sock it to those dirty forruns! Think I’m joking? The piece is entitled “Under the Argentine Jackboot” – How subtle do the DM want to be? This subtle “We don’t ever want to become Argentinian. We are British and always will be – no matter what rubbish we hear from the Argentinians” Ahhh – a home (thousands of miles away from) home. Like Gibraltar… that open sore on the coast of Spain were fat-rosy-faced career criminals go smeared in faded tattoos and old England shirts to buy marmite and crisps and moan about immigration without a hint of irony.

What next? Diana auction… of course! Then its Health – NHS reform gets 2 pages. Page 38 is like a quack page – squeezy balls, muscle pills and superbugs. I’ll skip the puzzles and cartoons if that’s ok… although I do love the massive weight of opinion and angst out there about Fred Basset being the worst EVER comic strip.

HAHAHAHAHAHA no? Me neither.

I try to ignore the horoscopes but I’m caught by the fact that someone has actually written to the resident soothsayer asking what stage in the lunar cycle was best for conceiving children…. WHAT?  No? Really “I hear that the waxing moon is better, but as children grow in the dark I was just wondering?” Seriously. What the fuck is that? The soothsayer isn’t content with writing shite out for each of the 12 star signs… he also kindly adds a premium phone line for each star sign so the feeble-minded and gullible can be exploited further. How kind!

Blimey. The health section goes on for ages… and it’s awful. Skits on orange juice being unhealthy, a letter to the doctor where the good doc gets on a soapbox and whinges about a lack of compassion among nurses. There’s even a special regular section called waterworks about urinary problems… Dentures. The ubiquitous cancer page (good news this time… they’ve cured colon cancer… tomorrow it will probably be that colons cause cancer). There’s even a mini-health interview with Kelly Osbourne (yeah… the one whose dad is famous). Of course… the entire health section is decked out with ads for various gadgets and books. My favourite is “The saltpipe” – it’s a porcelain inhaler for salt. INHALE SALT – IT CURES EVERYTHING. A snip at 30 quid….

Of course… you know the health section is coming to an end when you see a full-page ad for electronic cigarettes. Mmmmm nicotine and water vapour…

Blimey. Is that the time? I’ll have to finish this off another day. I’m starting to get to the juicy bits.

To be continued.