Awaiting the apocalypse? Not to worry: we’ve got a lovely princess.
Posted on February 27, 2020
To the barber and the bonus of ten minutes to myself while waiting my turn. I’m pleased to see that no-one’s nabbed the newspaper. And so begins my infrequent, episodic acquaintance with the vile stench that is the Daily Mail. Even as I reach for it, I am aware of the potential medical damage I could be inflicting on myself, but like a helpless addict, I grasp for it all the same.
Purveyors of this journal will be familiar with its world view which is, to put it mildly, somewhat jaundiced and pessimistic. The existence of an unknown virus and the genuine possibility of a pandemic provides all the amplification needed for these peddlers of gloom. It makes a change from its normal refrain of a world dominated by people out to pilfer your hard-earned savings or an array of staggeringly incompetent public servants incapable of arranging a knees-up in a brewery. Common sense is a thing of the past, you can’t say anything without offending someone and young people should stop asking if they can ‘get’ something along with a thousand other irritations they pose in all their snowflakery. Whoever churns out this bilge must live in a state of permanent, crimson fury.
Is it all doom and gloom? Well, of course not. In among the stories of sex offenders and geriatric members of a bowls’ club accused of peering into a girls’ changing room (honestly, as true as I sit at this keyboard: I don’t have the imagination to make up stuff like that) there are lots of pictures of alluring girls in sexy get-ups. To borrow from the late Kenny Everett, it’s all done in the best possible taste: I don’t hug people in my office any more, says curvaceous TV presenter – as photographed; I don’t have sex when drunk, says slinky columnist – as pictured; he might have been a millionaire, but I showed him the door when he cheated on me, says unknown wannabe in very short frock.
Oh, come on. Lighten up. What better way to bring a bit of enjoyment to the world than having lots of pictures of women all over the place? It’s what makes the world go round. You’re surely not going to give me all that stuff about satisfying the male gaze, are you? Honestly, you can’t even have a bit of fun these days, can you? I suppose you’re going to go all ‘me too’ are you?
But if the Mail slumps into naked sexism to cheer us all up – often under the false guise of tales of empowered women – it has one other joyful morsel to slip in among the tales of thievery, incompetence and hell-in-a-handcartery. Lovely, lovely princesses – well, as long as they’re lovely white princesses, that is.
I’ll need to be clear from the start: I cannot see the point of the royal family. I’m not unpatriotic inasmuch as I think this is a wonderful country in which to live and I’ll root for England at cricket, football, rugby and any other sport that crops up on TV. I do so because the participants look, sound and act like thousands of people I’ve known – and taught – throughout my life. What’s more, they reached positions of representative prominence through hard work, determination, skill and resilience. But……and I don my tin hat here…..I simply do not see what is accomplished or admirable about being born into a family who, by quirks of fate, are descended from people who have been similarly fortunate. And, to adopt a very Daily Mail tone, I really don’t see why my taxpayer’s money should support them.
But there she is, the lovely Kate, prominent on page 3, larking around with an Olympic athlete and looking just like any yummy-mummy in her thirties, enjoying some precious me-time. Except that she isn’t glancing at her watch because the childminder’s hours will be up soon; or because she’s got to pick one of the kids up from school; or because she’s got to get home and cook some tea; or because she’s got to be on shift in an hour. And she doesn’t have to because we’re paying for it all and, apparently, her function in all of this is to look fresh, dutiful and unflustered by maternity so that, in among the dullness and threat of our lives, we can aspire and admire in equal measure.
The crushing conservatism and pessimism of the Daily Mail comes bellowing at us in its editorial choices and even in those things that are included to lighten the tone. In an age of diminishing print news, it still sells over a million copies a day, second only to the odious, lying Sun in terms of purchased – as opposed to freebie – papers. Quite what mood it sets for its readers as they embark on their daily routines is difficult to fathom; I expect that where it isn’t confirming prejudice it performs the function of telling even the gloomiest of them that their life could be worse.
So while the virus snakes around the globe and bureaucrats conspire to pinch your pension and young people still find themselves unable to know that they’re born, we can, at least, cheer ourselves up with a lovely princess. The white princess.
And don’t mention the dirty old uncle.