My friend the hooker and a spotty little sod

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The Independent Culture
NICKY'S a nice woman. I've known her since way back when: loyal, sharp-witted, good head for business and comes through like a trouper in a crisis, but there's the dismal, pursed-lipped, good-enough-for-the- likes-of-us News of The World having a go at her. Usual posture of the lower-grade sexual inadequate, of course: one hand wagging the finger, the other hand rummaging frantically in the yellowing Y-fronts. Nicky's a business girl, you see; a fille de joie, a, not to mince words, hooker. Well we can't be having that. Sex for cash? It'll be food for cash next. "Top Chef Does It For The Money Shock: We Expose The Evil Dribbling Foodies Who Support This Vile Trade."

You'd wonder what the world was coming to, if you didn't know what the world had come to long ago; particularly that grimy, prurient, crafty- Jodrell-behind-the-bike-sheds sector of the World of which that particular little rag is the self-proclaimed News. It would be risible if it weren't so ... no, it is risible, but contemptible too - a whole paper devoted to pandering to the rank, feral prejudices of the deprived, people who've never had anything delicious in their mouths or beneath their hands, never seen anything beautiful, people who whinge and tut and hate.

It is more than possible that there are, among those who write for the thing, some good human beings; people of honour and sensibility who happen to have fallen upon evil times. We can all find ourselves in a bad way and end up as junkies, street-thieves or minor functionaries. It is even perfectly possible that there are News of the World reporters who are tall, handsome and affable, nature's gentlemen, and that Paul McMullan ("World Wide Web of Vice," News of the World, Nov 1 1998, pp16-17) is one of those, and nothing like the character calling himself "Peter" who visited my friend Nicky under false pretences, demanding sodomy and initially refusing to go when told that it wasn't on offer. Nicky's a popular girl, working at the posher end of the business, and "Peter" stood out a bit.

"An ugly-looking bastard," she said. "A pizza-face. I thought at first he had a birthmark but it was spots. As soon as it walked through the door, I thought, 'No, this is a wrong 'un', and anyway the little bastard was 10 minutes late. I didn't associate it with a newspaperman. I just thought, it's a dirty little bastard and I'm not having that near my... Anyway, it sits there, skinny, looking like a weasel, mousy hair, twitching away, and it's got this little earplug from its mobile phone stuck in its ear. So he says, 'What do you do?' and I say, 'Hon, it's like a date without the commitment, you know?' and he says, 'Well, do you do it... you know, the other way?' So I say, 'What do you mean?', and he says 'You know... the other way', and I cotton on, right? I explain that there's no way I'm going to do that, it's unsafe, and he says that he's always wanted to try that but his girlfriend won't let him, and I say, 'Well she's a very intelligent woman in that case.' Except she's obviously not, not if she hangs around with a ratty little thing like that in its cheap grey suit.

"So it's peering around and won't go, and poking its nose into the bedroom and finally I say, 'Look, we're not going to hit it off, it's not going to work out, let's call it quits, right?'"

Right. Well, as I say, there's nothing to prove that "Peter" is anything to do with the News of the World, and even if "Paul McMullan" did turn out to be a weaselly little fellow with spots, a cheap suit and an interest, feigned or otherwise, in sodomy, that would be no grounds to attack him. On the other hand, "Paul McMullan" is a bit of a worry, journalistically speaking. Nicky's flat is described as "a stone's throw from Kensington Palace" but I doubt if there's any athlete, however pumped-up, who could chuck even an aerodynamic javelin from Kensington Palace to the Gloucester Road. The "entire 20-foot wall ... mirrored from floor to ceiling" of the "palatial bedroom" is in fact an MFI sliding mirror wardrobe in a room which measures about nine feet square, and if you wonder how I know, I went round and investigated not only that but also the "smart trouser- suit open at that top to reveal a 38DD cleavage", which turns out to be a three-button hacking-jacket which, when the top button is undone, reveals damn-all, and even if removed entirely would reveal a 34D as measured in Paris by La Perla. And what about the bulldog? Damn great Arnie, who I have also known from way back, snoring and drooling and lumbering about like Winston bloody Churchill? What about the bulldog?

It's not good reporting, even if we skip over the obvious bollocks about Nicky "describ[ing] a range of depravity - much of which our reporter had never heard of and had difficulty imagining" - the poor unimaginative little sod, quite unlike the spotty Peter who had quite happily petitioned to be able to commit an illegal act. The whole nonsense - call-girls advertising on the Internet, just like everyone else - is designed to play into a hideous prurience, presenting a world of inconceivable vice and indulgence forever out of reach of the minatory blowhard readers, endlessly stirring their tea in their cold and desolate flats.

You might wonder why the News of the World keeps flogging this dead horse instead of going after the contemptible pimps who operate the street-girls like Scottish Mary, who Nicky remembers seeing on Kensington Church Street in all weathers, "with this damn great pimp in the car; I'd see her try to get in the car and he'd slap her about and push her out again". The answer is that the News of the World's moral outrage is as dodgy and as bogus as its reporting. To go after the pimps would be tough and risky. Much easier to exercise a prurient cowardice, to give the grubby readership their accustomed, tut-and-stiffy thrill, and sneak off home again to the disobliging girlfriend and the soothing, absolving cheque. Perhaps we're stuck with it; but at least I can do my bit, and warn all you business girls out there to have no truck with Spotty "Peter", just in case he's One Of Them. !

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