The Grey Cardigan 05.10.06

IT’S LIKE saying “Candyman” into the mirror five times. No sooner have I mentioned the unexplained, two-month absence from the pages of the Daily Mail of the once-ubiquitous Tanya Gold than she appears once more in a puff of sulphurous smoke.

In fact, as this resplendent organ nestled on the capital’s newsstands last Thursday morning carrying my piece suggesting that Tanya might want to cash in on the BBC’s Jane Eyre extravaganza by reprising her Guardian article of March 2005 that labelled Charlotte Brontë as a “sex-obsessed genius”, the same day’s Mail was already bursting from its corset with a page 58 piece by our Tanya describing how she was “dribbling” over the televised Mr Rochester. Spooky.

And it doesn’t end there. The next day she’s suddenly in print again, spreading up in a ballgown in Chester for an early piece anticipating the next series of Strictly Come Dancing. For a girl with size 13 feet, that’s some sacrifice.

I AM still slightly miffed about an email I received in the early days of this column accusing me of misogyny (see above). Let’s get this straight — I have championed, charmed and over-promoted legions of women in the past 30 years to the point that the smellier specimens down the dark and drunken end of the subs’ desk began to suspect that I was something of a soft touch. This is a subject to which we will return in weeks to come.

I mention it now because I like smart women, and it grieves me to see them reduced to stereotypical page-fillers. I call as evidence, My Lord, the case of the Daily Mail vs Ms Sarah Sands.

Hoofed from an editor’s chair at the Telegraph group by an increasingly barmy management, Ms Sands has pitched up at Lord Dacre’s dacha in some sort of “write a bit, edit a bit” role. I knew her years ago when she was a bright young thing on the Sevenoaks Courier.

She was always destined to be a star. So how do they use her now?

To find out, we have to delve into the murky depths of the Femail pages, where Sarah is discussing at length the right time of year at which women should spurn the bare leg and return to the wearing of tights. There is also a gratuitous hint about her personal use of stockings, but we won’t go there.

Is this really the best use of an intelligent mind? I know that the Mail’s raison d’être is to keep women in their place by subtly exploiting their innate lack of confidence, but isn’t this a painful and pointless demonstration of the philosophy?

AND TO complete a trio of knocking stories about Lord Dacre’s empire (and by the way, keep writing you snouts), we turn to the letters pages of The Guardian, where a leather-elbowed, lentil-eating reader gets his pedals in a spin after his newspaper’s poster giveaways are shamelessly copied by the Daily Mail.

Just when, he asks, will the Mail be producing its British Bigots wallchart? Ouch!

A CLEFT stick arrives from Bristol where the rather good new sports paper launched by former Evening Post rejects seems to have ruffled a few feathers. I am told that during a recent Bristol Rovers match, the Post paraded some promo totty at half-time carrying placards imploring fans to “accept no substitute” when it came to their sports reading.

Two problems here — it’s not a case of substitution, the Post having carelessly binned its own weekly sports paper last year. Secondly, the match in question was actually being sponsored by the chaps from Your Sport, causing extreme embarrassment on the part of their football club hosts. Own goal.

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