The Daily Mail has a
horrifying quite remarkable interview with Edwina Currie today, written by Jan Moir on the back of the paper’s serialisation of her diaries. It’s simultaneously vomitous, unintentionally hilarious and fascinating in the same way as those videos uploaded to Youtube where a teenage skater breaks his arm trying some ill-advised stunt.
I’ll put a health warning on this – only those possessed of a particularly strong stomach or a particularly weak imagination should read the whole piece. In the interests of public safety, I’ve read it for you, and picked out some of the most, err, memorable sections:
Got to say it: the 65-year-old former junior health minister is looking good. Her sausagey, brunette curls are as bouncy as ever, her skin is excellent, she oozes the same indestructible confidence of yesteryear, even if she is worried about her weight.
“Sausagey”? I’m not sure that comes across quite as the compliment it was seemingly intended to be, Jan. So now we are greeted by an image of Edwina Currie whose head is adorned with long bags of ground-up meat, like some kind of butchershop Valkyrie.
‘Was I sex-obsessed? Well I certainly wasn’t cupcake-obsessed, let’s put it that way.’
Good to know – but having ruled-out cupcake obsession, does that inherently rule in sex obsession? Or just leave open the door to obsessions with sheds, magpies or petrol tankers?
Elsewhere in the book, she is constantly measuring others up to herself and finding them wanting. No one is quite good enough. Ex-husband Ray is dim and boring. Norman Lamont is sly and self-indulgent. Libby Purves is fat and tatty. Paddy Ashdown is not very bright, Michael Portillo is unpleasant, Michael Howard is oily and Ann Widdecombe is aggressive.
But other than that, the 90s were great.
‘I am quite a fan of David Cameron. He understands duty. He’s got charm, he’s emollient, he’s got a face like a nicely creamed baby’s bottom.’
Like a what? I’m sure Downing Street will be if not delighted, then at least utterly bewildered and slightly troubled by that.
On her first date with former murder squad copper JJ — after he had appeared as a guest on her Radio 5 Live show — she found herself well and truly locked up in the jail of love.
Alan Partridge has found a gateway into the real world, and he is writing under the pseudonym “Jan Moir”.
‘I don’t regret the affair with [John Major]. I don’t do regrets,’ she says. And even after all this time, a glazed and faraway look creeps into her eyes when she thinks of him, rather like a panther eyeing a crippled vole that’s just appeared on the horizon.
Trust me, even the panthers and the crippled voles are cringeing at that one. What does it even mean? It’s hard to imagine what kind of “faraway look” a panther adopts when it spots a crippled vole appearing on the horizon. Perhaps it’s a look that says “wow – check out that vole, it’s totally knackered”, or a lingering regret that without any opposable thumbs it can’t film this for LOLs with other panthers at a later date. Or, more probably, simply a look that says “Roar, miaow, roar”.
‘John Major was a sexy beast. I think his history shows that. He was 19 when he was living with a woman who was 33. Believe me, I did not have to teach that man anything.’
And there it goes – my lunch, vengefully returned from its rightful place, all over the keyboard. I’ll be sending the Mail an invoice.
Total Politics have started to publish the results of their annual Blog Awards, based on votes from the blog-reading public. I’m delighted to say that this blog has been voted Number 5 in the rankings for Right Wing Blogs, up there with the big beasts and full-timers of the political blogosphere. Thank you to each and every one of you who voted for CrashBangWallace, I’m really chuffed and will do my best to live up to the ranking over the next 12 months.
Here’s the Top Ten (with last year’s ranking in brackets):
1 (1) Order Order
2 (3) Conservative Home
3 (4) Spectator Coffee House
4 (26) Archbishop Cranmer
5 (81) Crash Bang Wallace
6 (5) Daniel Hannan
7 (-) The Commentator
8 (18) Talk Carswell
9 (17) EU Referendum
10 (10) James Delingpole
You may recall a post I wrote back at Christmas about the case of Chris Jefferies, the landlord who was arrested but later released during the hunt for the murderer of Jo Yeates. The post was titled “Posh loner who liked poetry but not sport ‘obviously did it’, say media“. The point was that he was enduring an appalling trial by media, with papers heaping suspicion on him on ludicrous grounds which included looking odd, liking poetry (he was an English teacher), never having married, being a Lib Dem and not liking sport.
It remains the worst example I can think of of the growing trend to pre-judge cases by desperate smear.
By that point in the case Chris Jefferies hadn’t been cleared, and indeed I got a bit of flak from some for somehow supporting a killer when I wrote the piece. In truth, it concerned me a bit that I was likely to be given little quarter should he turn out to be guilty, despite the fact that I was just arguing for justice to be allowed to run its course fairly, but I pressed the “publish” button anyway. Many of the papers involved have now deleted the articles from their websites, but you can find the original quotes of their scurrilous reporting in my original post here.
We now know that Jefferies was not the killer, and instead it was Jo Yeates’ neighbour Vincent Tabak who did it.
I’m a little late writing this up but it’s really pleasing to see that on Friday several papers have finally admitted that they libelled Jefferies and have paid him an out of court settlement.
There’s a fundamental principle here that we must not forget. Even if Jefferies had been guilty, it would still have been wrong for the papers to report the case in the way that they did. Had he been guilty, they would do well to remember that their appalling coverage could well have jeopardised a trial.
As it turned out, he was innocent but his reputation was given a public beating all the same – no cash settlement can ever possibly set right the harm that was done to him.
The BBC are obviously smarting from the growing number of allegations that they have covered the phone hacking scandal so much that crucial issues like the increasingly likely collapse of the Euro have been neglected.
Of course many of those allegations are made by people who are themselves uncomfortable politically with the embarrassment being caused by the hacking issue, and of course the phone hacking scandal is absolutely rightly big news. However, if the Euro was to fall over next week with catastrophic economic consequences I suspect much of the public would be wondering how it all happened so suddenly, when in reality this crisis has been brewing for months and years.
The BBC’s Foreign Editor Jon Williams (who is, by the way, well worth following if you’re on Twitter) just said:
It may be an exaggeration to say that other stories have been excluded entirely, but if you look at the evidence it’s pretty clear they’ve been eclipsed by the hacking coverage. Here are the results of searching the BBC News site for references to “hacking”, “euro” and “libya” over the last week:
Libya: 23 mentions
Euro: 32 mentions
Hacking: 246 mentions
As I say, hacking is a huge story and it does deserve large amounts of attention – but it’s hard to claim the BBC hasn’t taken its eye off other major issues while it’s been going on.
Unlike others I don’t necessarily think that’s solely because the BBC is threatened by Murdoch; it’s also because hacking is a media-village story taking place within the world most journalists inhabit. However the BBC in particular has a Charter responsibility to consider the public interest. That isn’t served by neglecting to cover the Euro crisis properly.