This is the last thing you'd expect to find in a left-leaning newspaper, but please excuse the prurience if we begin today by dwelling upon a pair of breasts.
This is the last thing you'd expect to find in a left-leaning newspaper, but please excuse the prurience if we begin today by dwelling upon a pair of breasts. They belong to a young woman known to readers of last Wednesday's Sun as "Jak, 18, from Tunbridge Wells", and splendid they are too. Yet you needn't be Andrea Dworkin to know there's more to her than that. "Jak supports the idea of... Black Watch lending support to American troops in towns south of Baghdad," we leerers were informed. "She said: 'It's important the terrorists are defeated. Ordinary Iraqis must be able to walk the streets without fear. We have a duty to finish the job we started'."
Now we may disagree on this, but it's an honest view - and if it happens to chime uncannily with Sun editorials, only an unusually demented conspiracy theorist would sniff anything fishy in that.
Being an unusually demented conspiracy theorist, I ring the Sun's third-most-senior executive, Geoff Webster, for a chat. Although widely known as a bit of a sweetheart, on this occasion Geoff tends towards the terse. Is it true, I ask him, that Jak is your daughter? A pause. "Stepdaughter." Aha. And is this her first appearance? "No." And would Jak be her real name? "No." Is it Charlotte? "Yes." At this we part, before I remember the final question: as The Sun's Executive Editor (Pictures), are you in overall command of the department which selects girls for page three?
I hope no one will trot out the tired old charge of nepotism - a concept loathed by Rupert Murdoch, who takes care not to over-promote his children.
We do quite the reverse: we salute Geoff for leading from what we have little choice but to call the front. A classic line trotted out by the Clare Short tendency is: "It's all very well using these girls, but how would you feel if it was your own daughter?" Geoff Webster has answered that.
* No one will accuse me of closing ranks, I hope, if I express my anger at the whispering campaign against a senior colleague in media punditry. Stephen Glover, so it's rumoured, has one eye on the Spectator editorship on the off-chance that his plans for a new highbrow newspaper come to nothing. Cobblers. It is true that Stephen had quite a go at Boris Johnson in the Daily Mail last week. And it's true that he recycled all but one of his points in his subsequent Spectator media column. However - and this is the mark of his loyalty - the one he didn't reprise was that Boris should give up one of his two jobs "for the good of the magazine". So let's hear no more of this mischievous nonsense.
* Stephen, incidentally, is one of the Mail's up-by-the-bootstraps self-improvers obliquely referred to in the editor Paul Dacre's eulogy to council-house-raised Lynda Lee-Potter. "In modern journalism, particularly in the left-wing media," wrote Paul, "there are too many columnists who have achieved little in the real world or journalism, but who have a compulsion to give us the benefit of their somewhat jejune views. Most have never stepped inside a council house, let alone lived near one...". Any time you're Lambeth way, any evening, any day, you'll find them all - Paul (public-school-educated, sent two boys to Eton), Stephen, Mad Mel Phillips, Quentin Letts (the paper's Arthur Mullard), and a host of other aspirant pearly kings and queens - doin' the Lambeth walk. Oi!
* If Boris Johnson had signed a communication plugging the Orange Word season of talks, he'd have taken the ferry from Liverpool straight to Ireland to do his whole mea culpa schtick all over again. "Roddy Doyle is speaking on Wednesday," wrote Naomi, who handles the PR. "Roddy is a very entertaining speaker... although sometimes understanding his accent is a challenge in itself..." Ah, sure now, bejesus, it is, it is. Which of us can listen to a middle-class, university-educated Dubliner without having an interpreter on standby?
* Speaking of hacks on apology tours... taxi to Dhaka for a Mr Garry Bushell. "But on the burning subject of Bangladesh cuisine," he wrote in The People, "does it worry you when they just have 'meat curry' on the menu and don't specify where it came from?" It never has before, Garry. Why do you ask? "I mention this 'cos one of the waiters in my favourite East London eatery died and the chicken hasn't tasted the same since." The crazy thing, in this age of political correctness gone mad, is that some people might even take offence.
* Mixed news, finally, of Gerald Kaufman. You will recall my concerns, aroused by a fortnight in which he wasn't once seen brawling, that he has been kidnapped. "I spoke to Gerald Kaufman on his mobile yesterday for a story I was doing on the Church of England," e-mails a national title's north-east correspondent. "He seemed agitated, like he was tied to a radiator and had not been to the loo for two days. He would only say 'I have no opinion on this matter'. Hope this helps." It does and it doesn't. Knowing he's alive is a tremendous relief, of course. But where is he? Who is holding him? And how much do they want not to give him back?Reuse content