From the current Eye
HACKWATCH – JONESLY THIS CHRISTMAS
As Eye readers may recall (see issue 1181), the failure of Nirpal Dhaliwal to spend more than £375 on his gift for wife Liz Jones last Christmas was a major contributing factor in their subsequent separation. So how did she spend her first Christmas on her own? Writing endless pieces for the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, whose staff appear to have taken several extra days off in the confidence that she alone would be able to fill their pages.
16 December: Christmas. It’s a time for family, isn’t it? Not for Jones, though, as she reveals to Mail on Sunday readers: she used to want to adopt an Indian baby, “a mop-topped poppet who would gaze at me gratefully with shiny dark eyes” but she “eventually faced up to the truth: my selfishness, my need to have something to love, had clouded the reality of what I was about to take on by wrenching a baby from her own culture… I didn't particularly like other people's children… A brown child, no matter how photogenic, shouldn't be used as a sticking plaster for our own neuroses.” Across the sub-continent, an entire generation breathes a sigh of relief.
17 December: Jones offers her valete to those lost during 2007 with an admirable sense of proportion: “of course, we will miss the legendary stylist Isabella Blow, who committed suicide in May at the age of 48. She was a breath of fresh air in an increasingly safe, corporate world. Less sorely mourned, though, will be the skinny jean. DVT, RIP. Long live opaque black tights!”
23 December: A comprehensive review of the state of culture in Britain. “The only thing I like about Tate Modern is the restaurant. And have you been to the Science Museum recently? None of the interactive stuff works; it is all, let's face it, expensive, subsidised drivel to give absentee fathers somewhere to take their estranged offspring on a Bank Holiday. The London Aquarium? It's rubbish.”
24 December: Christmas Eve, and Jones considers what is awaiting her beneath the tree. “I always spend a lot of money on my boyfriend or husband, and they always love my presents because I have taste, imagination, patience, a selection of credit cards, tenacity and an eye for detail. Let me list here, in the manner of Bruce Forsyth, all the Christmas gifts I have bought the various men in my life.” And, unbelievably, her editors let her do just that. For 1030 words.
28 December: “I admit I have a bit of an anti-thing going on with American girls. Basically, I hate them,” Jones informs Daily Mail readers in a 2000-word essay. For why? “My former husband had a rather lengthy affair with one… She was incredibly selfobsessed, not funny at all, and obviously in possession of a very loose set of morals.” Well, at least we know he has a type. Jones, meanwhile, has a new love interest: “I quite like him, mainly because, and I told him this, I didn't have to dumb myself down to be with him, something I often have to do with men because, the poor dears, they can't seem to cope with someone who is super bright.”
30 December: Benazir Bhutto has been murdered in Pakistan. Jones offers Mail on Sunday readers some startling insights into “a country where, for those of us who live in the West, the idea of 'normal', particularly for women and children, is pretty much tantamount to Hell… When an earthquake struck northern Pakistan in 2005, I flew to Islamabad to report on the disaster… When I arrived, I was surprised by how manicured and modern the capital was. I was rather relieved to be able to check into a five-star hotel and order room service, and watch a heavily censored episode of Friends.” The big event of the week, though, is saved for three full pages of the paper, beneath the headline: “Nobody was more achingly cool, trendy and urban than our columnist Liz Jones. So what on earth has made her move to 46 acres of wildest Exmoor with only a rescued racehorse and disabled pony for company?” Readers neither know or care, but wonder if there might be any chance of persuading her to go even further away.
31 December: “You have to be careful when wearing leggings,” muses Jones in a fashion review of the year. “I bought a silver pair by Les Chiffoniers for £585 to wear on Christmas Day, but made sure I wore them under a sheer chiffon skirt, and a grey cashmere sweater; even so, my nephew hung a chocolate Santa on me, thinking I was the tree.”
1 January: “2007 was the year of the airhead, a 12-month period when no bit of female fluff was too fatuous to be brought to our attention,” muses Jones. “Want some proof that we women have finally abandoned all pretence to having any sort of gravitas, or moral responsibility, or intellectual debate?” The Mail provides it with 1500 further words spilled directly from Jones’s brain.
2 January: “I’m in the hinterland of Exmoor, visiting my ex-wife over New Year,” pipes up a familiar voice in the Evening Standard. Nirpal Dhaliwal – for it is he – has some original observations of his own to make about the countryside. “The nearest shops are five miles away… all I smell is dung… looking after animals is hard work.” Even worse, “the country has completely changed her. Out here, she’s lost her metropolitan chic and clomps around in outsized Wellingtons, muddy jodhpurs and a weird ensemble consisting of a pinstripe waistcoat, tweed blazer and a liberty bodice.” (she’s done this bit – ed).
3 January: “Have you ever seen such a glum, humourless, overdressed, stilted, selfconscious couple in your life?” demands Jones. Not her and Dhaliwal, stoopid – the Beckhams, a photograph of whom she spends 1000 words dissecting. “We can only guess at what has caused him to go grey almost overnight such that it shines out from the dyed blond hair on the rest of his head. But I suppose his wife might have something to do with it?... The way she has her hand in her husband's is a bit odd, and comes across as rather needy.”
6 January: Not only is everyone else having kids, they insist on bloody well feeding them too, observes our woman in the £585 leggings. “Rare is the school-age child in this country who has ever been allowed to experience hunger… I have a friend with three young children who admits to spending more than £400 a week on food. There is no longer any concept that you might make do towards the end of the week.”
7 January: “What will be my number one style resolution for 2008?” muses Jones. “I must look at myself long and hard in a full-length mirror.” Expect full and excruciating details of exactly what she observes over the next twelve months.