The Grey Cardigan 02.03.07

WHAT IS it with this latest trend of turning the features pages of our national newspapers into a very public marriage guidance session?

We're already sick to death of the tit-for-tat Me and Mrs Jones saga of the sloth-like Nirpal and his mad woman wife. I'm weary of poor Tom Utley's tales of how school-fee poverty drove his wife to take to the streets… in a double-decker bus. Now others are muscling in on the act.

Step forward Lauren Booth, a woman whose entire career is based on step-name dropping, wailing away in the Daily Mail about the pressures of being her family's principal bread-winner under the heading: Can a marriage where the woman earns more than the man ever work?

"I'm not saying this situation is putting our marriage under threat," she writes, "but it has brought tensions which simply wouldn't exist if the situation was reversed." And it soon is, on paper at least.

Enter stage left Mr Lauren Booth (aka Craig Darby, actor and scriptwriter and therefore unemployed) who gets his Daily Mail spread two days later to moan about the humiliation of having to ask his wife for money to buy a couple of CDs or enjoy a pint with his mates. Do we care? Not a jot.

And so the cash-generating confessional continues, with some unexpected contributors. As editor of The Daily Telegraph, Martin Newland was a motorbiking Action Man figure. Now he's showcasing his journalistic skills, again in the Mail, by ungallantly whining about how untidy his wife is.

He even empties out her handbag and details its contents for the delectation of readers. (Perhaps this is his way of enjoying life-threatening thrills these days.)

Lo and behold, two days later it's Mrs Benedicte Newland's turn to have her say in rather insipid fashion, perhaps prompted by the fact that she has a book to publicise.

Had enough yet? Tough. On the same day in Femail we had to endure Mr and Mrs Ross and Diana Appleyard complaining side by side about their waning sex life. (A double header, perhaps?) I won't bore you with all the details, but apparently he's fat and can't get it up, while she prefers big knickers to dressing up in stockings and suspenders.

Can we please just stop this tiresome marital mayhem? I know we're being had over for an easy cheque. You know you're being had over for an easy cheque. They know we're being had over for an easy cheque. Has no one pointed out these connubial con-tricks to Lord Dacre?

"GREY, COME quick," called Mrs Cardigan on Sunday morning. (Do you see what I've done there?) "Cameron's been nicked for smoking dope."

"Tcch, stupid woman," I thought, with one eye on her getting a lucrative Press Gazette follow-up rebuttal next week. How can even the most vindictive cold case team have conjured up a CPS file from a youthful indiscretion? All soon became clear. The problem lay with those running straplines on 24-hour news channels, in this case Sky News.

"… David Cameron arrested for possession of cannabis…" had indeed scrolled across the bottom of the screen. What she hadn't seen — until the sentence came round again — was what preceded it, namely: "Teenager who made gun gesture at Conservative leader…"

STANDARDS DON'T just slip at The Daily Telegraph — they plummet. Cobbling together a cuttings job on the forthcoming Liz Hurley wedding, Adam Edwards waffles on about the glamorous ceremony, the myriad guests and the sumptuous feast before informing us that "A pheasant shoot is planned for Sunday."

A pheasant shoot? In Gloucestershire? In March? On a Sunday? I don't fucking think so.

You can contact me, should you be minded, at

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