The Truth Brigade

Let me bow to you, my treasured audience, for my absence over the past few weeks. I have been busy reading. Lots and lots of newspaper and magazine articles.

I recently went through an interview with Timeout. The process was with such fierce formality, that my heartbeat transpired through my trembling mouth… and then the mouthpiece to the other side of the globe. Anyhow, I was asked to name a few writers of prominent publications, whose style of writing I adore. Without any hesitation, I heard myself uttered Jess Cartner-Morley of the Guardian. Then the food critic of Angie Wong of Timeout Hong Kong. Then I went blank, so we proceeded to the next, equally daunting question.

Having been ambushed by an unexpected question which I could well have been answered for full marks (Just TWO?); I sent a defiant email to my interviewer, in a quest to proclaim that journalism nerd trophy. I, afterall, spend hours a day reading good (and bad) journo articles from across the board. So I supplied the names of Charlie Brooker (who won’t?), Jeremy Clarkson, Hilary Alexander, Sarah Mower and Jeremy Paxman.

See a trend emerging? Those who capture the hearts of the public can be divided into three categories: unabashedly straight-forward and tell it like it is; those whose descriptive writing induces clarity and thrill; finally, the fierce, hardcore Robin Day type journo. Paxman I salute you. But sorry, you’re too heavy a substance to be of subject in a lazy Sunday morning blog like this.

I wrote again and again, that Cartner-Morley’s opening sentence to an interview write-up with Carine Roitfeld was so seductive that, I literally dropped the paper and got sucked into a kaleidoscopic whirlwind of romance.

“Listening to Carine Roitfeld is like having Chanel No.5 drops very slowly, into your ears”. Magnetic voice what? Sexy tone what? Smoky note what? It’s Chanel No.5, now get with the programme. I bet Jess quivered with excitement as she sat in front of the silver screen – bobbling on the keyboard like we all pedantic writers do – and this remarkable opener gripped her brain like a thunderstorm… Wordgasm.

Ever since then, Jess has topped my list of worshippable journo. Up there in the same league as Hilary and Sarah. What’s so unique about Jess tho, she’s less politically correct. And in this industry that journalists are threatened with libel cases all the time, a sense of harmless humour doesn’t hurt anyone.  So there Jess, you now know that there are people like out there who love your edgyness and acidity. Hats off, Japanese-esque bow to you.

Then cometh the food critic, whose slashing comes so elegantly that she can make “you wanker” sounds like “you pleasure lover”. Note, there’s a difference between polishing the truth and telling lies. “The service has been largely non existence”. And if you try to excuse them by “perhaps it’s a busy Sunday and they are mildly under-staffed”. That’s called consideration. At the end of the day, it’s like saying “would you excuse me” rather than “I need a piss”.

Well. Her expertise lies in triggering serotonin release by words. Be it chicken tail (that’s sun-don’t-shine, hello) or a no nonsense 6 course dinner; if Angie loves it, you’ll be sucked into that magical world of culinary pizzazz too. Your mouth will quiver and your tongue will curl. Next, you’ll find yourself smashing your piggy bank, fishing out the last penny and head to that said restaurant, which dinner may cost all yearly salary. But you know you’ll die satisfied and happy, only because Angie told you so, and you now have something worthy to scribble as your epitaph. Well, of course, I do not have that kind of financial freedom to squander on a meal, so there’s no verifying that Angie has malfunctioning taste buds. Nevertheless, to achieve that level of wordgasm takes more than a nice smile and a fit outfit. This, is what makes journalists, or wordsmith as I call them, so sexy.

Now the male counterpart whose literary bravery deserves the Victoria Cross.

Charlie Brooker grimaces. You can see his mugshot on the Guardian site. That’s not because he’s grumpy (or maybe he is). But the world is so full of bull’s excrement that someone has to get lairy about them and sets the record straight. Brooker rages war against multi-national money snatchers’ mind boggling techniques. His aides are us. We multiply his wordy ammunition by tweeting or facebook statusing his articles. The fervent ones may even leave a thank you note: as a comment in an acceptable form of gratitude, such as sarcasm.

Nevertheless, the man was given a truck load of special flavours Walkers crisps (he took the piss out of last year’s special flavours in his weekly column in the Guardian. Results? Walkers saved Charlie the leg work this year, hoping in return they’ll get some free publicity). In the normalest sense of word, freebies such as crisps should only incite the following reaction: “thank you.”

Maybe Walkers has mislabelled the box and thus it’s reached the wrong guy. The only imagainable result as the box reaches Charlie is this: Irish Stew flavour gets one word: “No”; Australian BBQ Kangaroo flavour gets this: “Call it ‘boiled pilot’s leg’ and the effect would be similar”. The review culminated in a high note: “Here’s hoping they steer clear of yet more bastardised takes on national dishes and go for topicality instead. How about American tea party flavour? Iranian uranium? Chinese dissident? Give it your best shot, Walkers, and with any luck you’ll start a war.”

So clearly, the men are better at crafting agression than seduction. Another British staple that finds codswallop impossible to swallow is – roll the drum – Jeremy Clarkson. His grand speeches are visceral. For a country that has been defined by politically correctness, Clarkson is like Jack in the Box, pops out and banishes all the bullshit. In all, he speaks the mind of most Britons.

A human version of marmite, Jeremy’s raffish views can be hard to stomach by some. But neverthless he has been routinely voted by the British public as the “Secret Crush” (Heat Magazine) and “The Real Man” (or something, by so and so magazine); or as the Prime Minister, as thetens of thousands of fans on such facebook group can testify.

So how does a middle-aged journalist from the Cotswolds appeal to young, professional women (who read Heat); and at the same time, adored by men everywhere in the world (minus truck drivers); be employed by the Sun, the Times as well as the BBC?

His boyish take on the world – not unlike the hyperactive Ben from Outnumbered – Clarkson employs an intuitive and an engineering mode of reasoning. His sense of humour also paints a frivolous picture in your head. Tampax as a solution to a water-soaked gas tank, anyome?

And on the matter of airport security. Sod the plane bombers, we have just got to accept the fact that 5% of any population are bonkers. That no amount of strip-searching will deter suicide bombers (because they are bonkers). Such as no one could stop the UCL student to strap some fuming explosives to his crotch. And because of this mathematical 5% of unpredictable event (due to malfunctioning people), the remainder of the population shouldn’t be subjected to unrealistic and unreasonable searches.

Does this resonate with you? Is it reasonable that we all have to arrive at the airport 3 days prior to our departure so that customs can tell us to rid of our 500ml water bottles?

However clever or sound his reasonings might be; however flamboyant and fluent his articles might be. Jeremy Clarkson is my most favourite journo no less, simply because of one fact.

His business card reads: “Jeremy Clarkson, Journalist”. You’ve got to love who you are before anybody else can love you. And damn right, journalist it is then.


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