Published:

This column is a mere pot-pourri of hypothesis and speculation. Any resemblance to persons dead, living or yet unborn is purely coincidental.

Gentle reader, imagine a man who had been born in straitened circumstances. His family lived in the South-east but not in the leafy-laned Home Counties. They were very much part of the London overspill. So he went to a comprehensive and did not progress upwards to university. Ivy-bedecked quads, tutorials over a glass of sherry and tail-coated drinking-clubs: his education was on a different planet.

He became a journalist and quickly discovered that he was good at it. But this did not involve writing leaders for the Times. Instead, he was hunting down naughty celebrities. No-one remotely newsworthy could get his leg over where he ought not to have done without risking exposure. There was a certain hypocrisy in all this. It is not as if his fellow hacks were tucked up in bed with a cup of cocoa by nine o'clock at night, chastely alone – unless they had a lawfully-wedded wife. But he grew accustomed to the ethics of the profession.

At times, he also wondered exactly how all the information was acquired. How did the paparazzo know where to position himself and his long lense? When  our invented character asked questions, the response would be a cynical chuckle: "It's the boys from the black arts, inn'it". Some of his colleagues enjoyed affecting a strutting demeanour with a vocabulary to match, as if they were part of the Sarf London criminal classes whose morals they emulated.


Our fictional figure acquiesced. He knew that there was little point in raising objections with the group's proprietor, Lord Cobber of Outback. Had he done so, a one-sided conversation would have ensued, in which the words "pommie", "poofter", "heat" and "kitchen" would have figured prominently. Moreover, it was a well-paid kitchen. He was beginning to enjoy life on a pleasant salary.

What about the law? He hardly gave it a thought. After all, everyone was doing it. It might be technically illegal; so was driving at 35mph in a 30-mile limit. Any suggestion that some of the black-arts brigade might have been committing a crime would have been greeted with incredulity, not to mention hilarity. It would have been like asking an Italian politician of the 1970s whether he was worried about being prosecuted for corruption.

Finally, the hypothetical journalist reached the top of one of the tallest trees in the tabloid jungle. Then there was trouble. He lost his job. While he was considering the next career move, there was a dramatic development. An important public-service organisation offered him a senior post – and with it, the chance to become a different person. He had always felt that there was more to life than scooping his rivals on Bimbo Bimbette's lesbian walk-out with Florette Floosie. Now, he had the chance to deploy the cerebral qualities which he knew that he possessed, but which he had always been forced to repress.

There would be rewards. Even if the pay and rations were not as generous as his wad from Dingo Megaglobal, they would be adequate. After a few years, there would be a knighthood, perhaps even a peerage. He could then return to the commercial sector and earn real money. But it was not just about money. He would have a marvellous opportuity: to be there while history was being made.

There was only one problem. In order to reassure his new employers, he would have to tell a lie

Well. gentle reader, if such a character had ever existed, he might not have been unworthy of our sympathy.

Comments on this post have been disabled.

Comments are closed.