It takes a real talent to write entertainingly about things that piss you off, to be articulate and funny without being nasty. Cattiness reduces all the potential observation and irony to the bitterness nursed by an inadequate personality.
Jeremy Clarkson has it. If I met him I’d probably disagree with every other thing he says, including “please pass the sugar”, but he’s a good and funny writer. So does Charlie Brooker, a man with more bottled bile than a Traditional Chinese Medicine Shop.
I’ve just read my first Jan Moir column, and she really doesn’t. She’s received a lot of attention this week for her comments about Stephen Gately’s death in which she observed that our idols sometimes “live a life that is shadowed by dark appetites or fractured by private vice”. Gately’s death also apparently strikes another blow to the “happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships”.
The internet (including the comments section on her own ‘Daily Mail’ page) is awash with people who expressing their outrage at her tramping her size nines inappropriately through a family’s grief at a tragic and natural death, so I don’t need to add to that.
But I did take the time to read the rest of her column. As I result, I’m proposing the theory that she may not be specifically homophobic, but just an equal-opportunities shrew.
The two other pieces this week were both about women. The first target was Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, who wore the kind of dress that your Mum used to make you put a nice warm coat over:
“Tara, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you are too old for that look” says Jan, “In fact, everyone is too old for that look, unless you happen to be Timmy the Tranny, the hat-check personage down at the My-Oh-My supper club in Brighton”.
And the second piece is entitled ‘I'm in the mood for spanx pants’ in which she told us that the Nolan comeback tour was a “giant triumph of spirit over depleted oestrogen”. The Nolans’ costumes had “a white panel down the front which gave the illusion of the girls being nipped in at the waist. Or, in some cases, of actually having a waist.”
Didn’t we used to just call those kinds of comments bitchy?
Since Jan Moir has such strong ideas about how women should look, I thought I’d furnish you with a photo. Next to Tara Palmer Tomkinson. People in glass houses shouldn’t eat so many bacon butties.
PS If you want to register a protest about the Stephen Gately article, there's a Facebook page here.