Martin Hennessey, eh? I'll look out for the name. His mum must be really proud of him. Her little lad's forging a great career in journalism, isn't he? Lying and cheating, spying and snooping, pretending to be poorly (aah]) and crippled (AAHH]) and hungry and in need of a roof: all so that he can get a good look at your life from the inside. He'll go far.
His editor must be feeling pretty pleased with himself, too. No doubt he was among those who sneered that you were asking for it, and that your offer was not genuine but a cheap bid for publicity from a fading media star. There were all those other journalists clamouring to take advantage of your offer in the Big Issue magazine of a home to the homeless, so that they, too, could nose about and ridicule you, and only the Mail on Sunday's Martin Hennessey managed it. What a scoop]
I, too, was on the receiving end of your hospitality a couple of years ago, only unlike little weasel Martin, I was invited. I found a welcoming, well-run household full of beautiful things - not inherited, but chosen and bought with money earned by your wits, originality and hard work.
I found in you someone whose skills ranged from the care and feeding of geese to the growing of fruit and vegetables and bottling thereof (you presented me with a couple of jars of preserves; excellent they were, too), to the rediscovery and publication by your own press of neglected feminist writings. You gave me a couple of books as well: the works of Aphra Behn.
I found, in short, very much what Martin Hennessey found: a woman of many talents with a large heart. And perhaps the most despicable aspect of his article is that he obviously knew it. Too cowardly to turn round to his commissioning editor and say, 'Look, I can't go through with this. She isn't the demon-queen she's been painted and she showed me extraordinary kindness. I wish I hadn't exploited her and the least I can do is not write the article.' But that would have taken a generosity approaching yours, Germaine, and the little toad wasn't up to it.
So he hedged his bets: admitted that you're a brilliant cook, that you are immensely kind, and have an enviable house. He even has the cheek to slip a parting note under your door saying he plans to sell his experience to the Mail on Sunday.
But he did it all the same, didn't he? Told the world what brand of cosmetics you use - wow] What would he have said had he found Chanel No 5, or even - heaven forfend - something really titillating? But no, he's reduced to enumerating the contents of your blameless bathroom cupboard.
Take him to the cleaners, Germaine.
Yours in outrage,
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