Matthew Norman: Unlike Jan Moir, I'm nearly lost for words

Diary: Even by Mail standards, Jan's censoriousness is astonishing, and the instant response has been spectacular

It is with the most grievously aching of hearts that I must, today, pass on an announcement from Friday's ... But no, it's much too soon. Allow me some private time with the Courvoisier and a couple of Xanax, and perhaps we will locate the strength to touch on it below.



Down on the farm

To the Elysian fields of rural Somerset for news of the Mail's Liz Jones, the poster girl for metrocentric snark whose efforts to blend in with her new Exmoor neighbours have met such curious resistance. The locals have been so struck by Liz's accounts of their shortcomings, you may recall, that the postbox of her farmhouse was peppered, so she claims, with shotgun pellets. Whatever the truth of that, vengeance has undeniably now been taken.

The Somerset County Gazette reveals that, at the Dulverton Carnival, Bern How and Terry Littlefair – the former in Rapunzel wig and dramatic make-up by way of homage, the latter styled after "a toothless farmer" in reference to her obsession with local orthodontic failings – named their float Liz's Coffee Morning.

Lloyd Vaughan reports that the cute touches included the feeding of organic chickens to rats (Liz having confided that she treats her barn rats to organic muesli); cut-price dentures; a tin of Illy coffee and, of course, a damaged letterbox.

Nascent hopes that this drollery might lead to a rapprochement have been drowned at birth, alas, an egg attack against the roof of her car proving the final straw. "I had thought that if I... spent £350 on a cashmere blanket in a Dulverton gift shop... people would like me and accept me, " Liz writes. Chin up, girl, and ignore these gummy ingrates. A calf fattened on organic muesli and Illy lattes awaits you here in town.



Storm clouds gather

Meanwhile, another Mail columnist invites a reaction unlikely to be sated by a satirical carnival float. In a piece cunningly pitched to make Robert Mugabe sound like Peter Tatchell, Jan Moir darkly suggests that a sybaritic gay lifestyle, rather than an undiagnosed heart condition, caused Stephen Gately's death. This seemed a brave line to take with the body still unburied, and no firmer evidence than a little cannabis in the bloodstream and a visit to his Spanish flat by a Bulgarian.

Even by Mail standards, Jan's censoriousness is astonishing, and the instant response (nothing from Mr Fry on Twitter yet, but very early days) has been spectacular. Within hours of the article appearing on Friday, a Facebook campaign had been launched, with 250 members joining within the first hour, aimed at forcing the Mail to retract these "unfounded and sickening allegations"; or failing that to pressure Procter & Gamble, BT Broadband and National Express to pull advertising. Given the challenge of imagining a swift surrender from the paper's mannerly editor, Paul Dacre, I suspect we may be obliged to return to the matter next week.



Hold the front page

Stop Press: Stephen Fry has duly tweeted as follows. "I gather a repulsive nobody writing in a paper no one of any decency would be seen dead with has written something loathsome and inhumane." A little harsh, perhaps, but trenchant and to the point.

Farewell, my old friend

Finally, to the media news that put Carter-Ruck's elegant injunction and all other media stories this week into proper perspective. Bereft of the words, I will leave them to the titan of opinion formation known here today for the last time as my favourite columnist. "I'm going to be devoting my time to our pioneering SunTalk radio show," wrote Jon Gaunt in Friday's Currant Bun, "so this will be my last column." You read them, you read them again, and yea even thrice do you read them, and still they make not one iota of sense. It is not for me to ape Ms Moir by speculating maniacally about the cause of death while the corpse is still warm, although if anyone was hovering outside cerebral new editor Dominic Mohan's office when Gaunty was informed, please feel free to share an account of what may have been a lively tête-à-tête.

Work on a retrospective celebration of his work begins without delay, as does a top-level external inquiry into how this could possibly have come to pass. For now, Gaunty, farewell and thanks for everything. It's been a blast.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel your sales role is l...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £45000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Key featuresA highly motivated ...

Guru Careers: PR Account Manager / PR AM

£28 - 34k: Guru Careers: An ambitious PR Account Manager is needed to join a c...

Guru Careers: Web Content Editor / Web Editor

£35 - 45k: Guru Careers: A Web Content Editor / Web Editor is needed to join a...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital