Jay Ramella reports from London: It is a truth generally unacknowledged that few women are amusing, never mind actually funny. So why does Paul D’Acre (Daily Mail editor) appear to be on a mission to make us believe that they are?
Jane Austen, whom I have just paraphrased with apology and whose anniversary occurs this year, was no stand-up comedienne. I may have to dodge the brickbats if I admit that I find her plots a crashing bore, Pride & Prejudice aside and that’s a grudging exception.
Her wry social observations stand the test of time, however and her time was when we were at war with Boney, most women were invisible except as breeding fodder, the country was jingoistic to a manic degree and Emmeline Pankhurst had yet to declare ‘deeds not words.’
Fast forward the centuries! Girls or women (girls once paralleled ankle socks and print summer frocks) can attend slut parades now. They’ve acquired their own debt to attend non-universities and they think it’s their right to flaunt themselves.
‘Look, but you can’t touch me, neh, neh, neh, neh, neh!’
Meanwhile, sad old buffoon, Godfrey Bloom, is castigated for his use of the word ‘sluts’ in a housework context, allegedly. What nobody recalls is that Katharine Whitehorn coined the word in the 1960s. It summed up the attitude of someone who selected the least dirty item of clothing from her laundry basket to wear once over again, who washed strategic body parts and headed off for work regardless. Imagine! We didn’t have showers or washing machines in those days and all that mattered was turning up on time to do the job you were paid less than any man for, regardless of your candyfloss hair.
Now women can walk near-naked around the Notting Hill Carnival and the BBC shows only the vaguely attractive nymphets but never the gross examples who should be forced to ‘put ‘em on!’ A month later a recent convert to Islam can turn the UK legal system on its arse by ‘insisting’ she can’t appear unveiled and getting her way to a greater extent. This would be the same devout Muslim who has only been veiled since ‘last May’ – less than two years whichever way you interpret that – but is up before the Crown Court. No slight misdemeanour there then!
The problem is that the more it changes, the more it stays the same. Katharine Whitehorne was a cigarette model and noticeable for her looks long before she found any talent for words. Drusilla Beyfus, Anne Sharpley, Barbara Griggs and Veronica Papworth, (lionesses of their day), owed their careers to looks, notice and nepotism as much as their dubious talents that ruled only because there was no challenge of any merit and their ‘protectors’ made sure it stayed that way.
Fastforward yet again. Bypass Murdoch, who is at least a heavyweight whatever else he stands suspected of. Instead, cast a glance over Rachel Johnson (Boris’s sis), Sarah Vine, (Gove’s Mrs), Angela Epstein, (who knows? But the long-dead Brian is as long a shot as her talent), Liz Jones, (wouldn’t be a show without Punch), Amanda Platell, (as tiring now as Mogadon), Jan Moir and Janet Street Porter, (need I yawn more). Oh, and they got shot of Melanie Philips, who was still good in parts. The entire pre-named stable of D’Acre’s Fakers does nothing but moan!
During the 1970s/early ‘80s there was a fresh, amusing self-deprecatory schtick for womens’ columns, primarily in the Sunday supps. Zoe Heller was noticeably good and Jilly Cooper was not bad before someone, (husband Leo, yet more nepotism), persuaded her to write so-called novels. The point is that it was entertaining and the writers made their points universally well at their own expense, though not to extract sympathy. Now that style is as dead as the Doh-Doh!
I do not want to read how Rachel’s ceiling fell down ‘cos of the nasty old Notting Hill Carnival, (hitherto so multi-culty BBC and ‘Borishty’). I don’t want to read about Sarah’s fatigue with the wet lavatory seat and children’s school/ fully paid House of Commons holidays. I couldn’t care less about Angela’s friends’ texting their sympathies on her personal bereavement – she’s lucky they did that much for her! I don’t want to know one iota more about Janet S-Porter’s over-egged life and I wish Moir, Jones, Platell and anyone else I’ve missed with nothing pertinent to say would just STFU! Tell me how the party political conferences affect the wider public forum from your perspective, please – if you can or dare – but stop boring the collective arse off of all of us with your over-privileged, preening, under-talented navel gazing. Paul D’Acre, please take note!