Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh. That sort of kung-fu kick. Right. Thanks for that.

Look, I'm the last one to criticise anyone for trying to contrive a pun in a headline, but if, as in today's Sun, it means you have to specify that while attacking her accountant, Kerry Katona "sent his door flying with a spectacular kick - similar to the infamous strike Manchester United legend Eric Cantona aimed at a fan in 1995," it might be time to give up and go home. Not least because it implies your readers have never seen a Bruce Lee film or even danced to Carl Douglas at a wedding.

Actually, that's not all that's rum about the Sun's account of the incident. A "pal" tells the paper that "she needs sectioning - who in their right mind beats up their accountant?" (has this person never met any accountants?), and the blow-by-blow description has David McHugh fleeing to his office, locking the doors and "cowering" inside - but managing to keep hold of a piping-hot cup of tea throughout. Which suggests either a devotion to his beverage approaching Tony Benn levels, or that someone's just making this all up as they go along. Which of Ben Ashford, Guy Patrick or Sara Nathan do you think was actually there?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This person cannot really exist. Can he?

This is the lead letter on the Daily Mail's letters page today (it's not online):

The other day, while doing our weekly shop, I bought for my two children Benjamin and Ofelia, a packet of Haribo Maoam lemon-and-lime confectionery. It was only after I was leaving the checkout that I noticed the appalling illustration on the packaging. This consists of a lemon and lime locked in what appears to be a carnal encounter. the lime, who I assume to be the gentleman in this coupling, has a particularly lurid and distasteful expression on his face.

I demanded to see the shop manager and during a heated exchange my wife became quite distressed and had to sit down in the car park.

I was told to register my complaint with the manufacturer. I'm glad I spotted this before my young children, who are both very sensitive.

My wife and I have always tried to maintain their innocence - and to think our years of careful parenting could have been wrecked by, of all things, a sweet wrapper makes me livid.

I received a reply from the company saying that the wrapper design had been introduced in Germany in 2002 with a view to making the fruit figures 'more modern and lively' to 'better appeal to the consumer.' It said 'at no point was it intended to create sexual images.' It had been shown to a number of children and adults of different age groups, none of whom has made any comments referring to sexual content.

I consider this response to be less than satisfactory. As a member of our local church, I'm now urging other members of our flock to boycott Haribo products until this illustration is removed.

Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

For prudery even further north, go here

Friday, August 14, 2009

"... and to top it all she has an unfortunate habit of appearing in unflattering photos"

I don't know Mischa Barton - I'm not sure I've even ever seen anything with her in it - but after reading this article in the Daily Mail can I just say on her behalf - "oh, just fuck off."

Fun Fact From History for Younger Readers: On September 8 1997, the Daily Mail printed the following - "The proprietor of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard announced last night that his papers will not in future purchase pictures taken by paparazzi."

Look! A like!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bad jokes, yes. Bad taste, hmm, not so much...

When my mum, then an English art student, was first taken to meet my grandmother, then her very Scottish and Kirk-going future mother-in-law, she presented her with a wood carving she'd done of John the Baptist. He was dressed in a goatskin, as Baptists tend to be.

The next time they visited, Granny had made him a wee kilt, "so he's decent."

I tell you this story to demonstrate that they'll take offence at some peculiar things up there in Scotland if you give them the chance to. And then I offer you this one from today's Daily Record, which might manage the unlikely feat of making you feel a bit sorry for Hardeep Singh Kohli.

"One angry mother said: 'This man's a disgrace... his mind operates like a sewer. The thought processes involved in coming up with 'Bagpussy' or 'Randy Pandy' are bad enough. To then publish it on a popular website beggars belief, given the pickle he's already made for himself."

Let's club together and get that angry mother some kind of award for protecting the public morals. Preferably one shaped like a big hairy cock.

That gollum correction: the Big Brother connection

Why is the Sun's Julian Brooker apology from four years ago suddenly zooming round the net again? People seem to be quoting it everywhere.*

Here's a story I wrote about it in August 2006, with an interesting extra detail people might find interesting. It didn't make it into Private Eye because... oh, I don't know. Maybe Ian Hislop wasn't watching Big Brother that year.

BB Has Saved My Life: Tourette’s Pete tells of year from hell” shrieked the headline in the Sun over a double-page spread documenting how Big Brother winner Pete Bennett had claimed to have gone “mad, pretty bananas completely at the end of my tether with life because something bad happened” prior to his appearance on the reality show. “Yesterday mum Anne Stephenson told how Pete’s best pal Julian died in a railway accident after Pete tried to save him,” the paper helpfully explained.

The paper was unable to find space to recall how it reported Julian Brooker’s death at the time – perhaps unsurprisingly, given that their January 27, 2005 report on his inquest was a work of fiction so spectacular that it required not one but two corrections in subsequent months. In March the paper was obliged to point out that Brooker – whose body Bennett dragged from a live rail, injuring himself in the process – was “neither thrown in the air, nor was there a fireball when he was electrocuted while doing an impression of Gollum. He had also not been drinking on the beach; his friend Natasha was not with him at the time; he was not obsessed with the number 23; and did not go out drinking every month on that date.” A month later the Sun added a couple of further amendments: “his mother did not say, during or after the inquest, her son often got on all fours creeping around their house pretending to be Gollum. Also, quotes from a witness should have been attributed to Gemma Costin not Eva Natasha. We apologise for the distress this has caused his family and friends.”

Unsurprisingly, Bennett declined to sell his exclusive tale of his Big Brother victory to the Sun.

* Oh. It's something to do with the young people on their Twitter device, apparently...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Something pleasing I should have noticed a week ago only I don't read the Daily Mirror very often

I bashed this out this for the Eye's Media News page last issue:


July 2009: BBC orders newsreader George Aligiah to resign as unpaid patron of charity Fairtrade Foundation as it “represents a potential conflict of interest which could undermine impartiality.”
August 2009: BBC denies there is any conflict of interest in case of BBC1 controller Jay Hunt, who is registered as company secretary of her husband’s firm Brightspark TV, which is paid by BBC to train television presenters.

That edition was on newstands in London on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 4.

On Wednesday, August 5, the Daily Mirror had an exciting front page splash:

"BBC bosses were accused of hypocrisy yesterday," it begins.

Well, yes. Yes they were.