Matthew Norman on Monday: Maybe it's time for the Murdochs to get some family psychotherapy
Monday 18 July 2011
What is needed at this point in the saga, I can't help feeling, is neither a select committee nor a judicial inquiry, but family psychotherapy on an industrial scale. Take Liz Murdoch. If Liz's volcanic rage at being the biological daughter less loved by Daddy than the adopted sister with the Medusa tresses erupted with "Rebekah fucked the company", we must look to the distant past for the genesis of her filial anguish. I make no apology for repeating the anecdote, which is not only the most revealing snapshot of Rupert's soul, but may help us understand Liz's daughterly angst.
As a little girl when the family lived on a home counties farm, she once confided to Tatler, she rushed out to the field to find the pony she adored was missing. Liz charged back to the house to ask after its whereabouts. Ah yes, sweetheart, said Rupert, his memory jogged, I gave it away in a News of the World readers' competition. Can you imagine the old boy doing that with the horse on which Rebekah hacked through the Cotswold countryside with Mr Cameron?
Riven as she is by these ancient paternal resentments, you wonder whether Liz was bamboozled into wedlock by her husband's name. If she thought some dormant recessive gene could be awakened in her spouse, she was mistaken. Judging by the developing clan warfare and its attendant psychodrama, there is nothing of great grandpa Sigmund in Matthew Freud.
* If Liz now casts herself as good Cordelia to Rebekah's wicked Goneril while befuddled King Liar rages on the blasted heath, we cannot overlook that part of the tale modelled on The Godfather. What is James if not Michael to Rupert's Don Corleone ... the senescent mobster's younger son charged with abandoning the extortion rackets to turn the business kosher? "Michael, in five years the Corleone family can be completely legitimate," as Brando told Pacino. "Very difficult things have to happen to make that possible. I can't do them any more but you can if you choose to." If only he had made that choice five years ago. Too late, Don James, too late.
* The best of luck to all concerned when the media select committee convenes tomorrow. To spare its chairman the bother, we remind you that John Whittingdale once cited Rupert as the media figure he most admires. On Andrew Marr's show yesterday, amnesiac John seemed every inch as smug and self-congratulatory as Mr Collins in Pride And Prejudice... albeit that unctuous cleric never turned on his sponsor Lady Catherine de Bourgh.
* Also sharing a Sabbath croissant with Marr was a studiedly ungloating Nick Clegg. Then again, he has little to gloat about. "I personally think that the nature of the general election campaign really demonstrated that the days where newspaper barons could basically click their fingers and governments would snap to attention have gone," said Nick in April when interviewed by Jemima Khan. "Those days have just gone." Cheeky fibber or genius clairvoyant? You decide!
* If the select committee hearing was exclusively available on Sky pay-per-view, like any other feverishly awaited heavyweight bout, what would the trio select for their walk-on music? "Papa Don't Preach" will do for James, while Whitney's "Didn't We Almost Have It All?" seems fine for This One Brooks. As for Rupert, what better than Terry Jacks' maudlin reflections on imminent death? "We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in The Sun/ But the wine and the song, like the seasons are all gone."
* I remain excruciated beyond the analgesic power of diamorphine by the arrest of Neil Wallis, the wise consigliere to the Met who moonlit as Andy Coulson's number two on the Screws. Who present that night will ever forget the 1999 British Press Awards, when Neil stormed the stage to deliver an impromptu keynote address on the outrageous favouring of broadsheets over red tops? Versatile Neil is also fabled as a great bird-watcher who will drop anything but his dignity to race to a rare sighting. Word is that Neil's favourite bird song of late has been that of the canary, and he's certainly twitching now.
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