Newspapers look across the great divide

The bastion of the nation's most self-consciously liberal broadsheet newspaper was besieged yesterday by two icons of popular culture it traditionally looks upon disapprovingly - The Sun and the Page Three Girl.

The bastion of the nation's most self-consciously liberal broadsheet newspaper was besieged yesterday by two icons of popular culture it traditionally looks upon disapprovingly - The Sun and the Page Three Girl.

Just as the staff of The Guardian were settling down to ponder the weighty issues of the day, a bus (topless of course), bedecked with the logo of The Sun and six scantily clad models appeared at their headquarters in central London.

Chaos came to the streets as a man on the top of the Murdoch Mobile bellowed: "Show us your cleavages!" and two staff in the Guardian office waved their bras out of the window.

It ended only when two officers of the law turned up on horseback to move The Sun - nipples, microphones, bleached blondes and all - back to its headquarters in Wapping.

The publicity stunt, part of National Cleavage Week run by the bellicose tabloid, was the culmination of a skirmish between The Sun and what it termed the "chattering-class journalists" of the august Guardian.

A Guardian column last week by Dea Birkett was greeted with joy in Wapping when she declared support - with a suitably highly educated twist - for National Cleavage Week.

Ms Birkett, who has previously written in support of greater affection for the penis, wrote: "I don't see why I shouldn't join in. From Jerry Hall to Kate Moss, women are taking their skimpy tops off." Bemoaning the "perceived conflict between breasts as sexual assets and natural providers", she ended with a flourish: "Let's turn National Cleavage Week into National Breast is Beautiful Week."

So, chorused The Sun, the "po-faced" Guardian had finally seen sense and embraced the marketing potential of the breast.

At least one observer in Farringdon Road was less than pleased. The Sun's bus rolled into a white van, causing the models to wobble and the driver to lose his temper. This White Van Man, a character popularised by Wapping's sales gurus as a wat to shift extra copies, shook his fist at the bus. The models he ignored.

The only sound from The Guardian was that of feet heading for the moral high ground.

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