John Walsh: Tales of the City

'In future, male journalists must display a minimum BMI of 29.9 and a lung/smoke factor of 49 per cent'
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I see that, during fashion week in Milan, the consiglieri of the business laid down the law about what they expect from catwalk babes these days. The Associazione Servizi Moda, which looks after the top model agencies, issued a set of rules and a code of conduct to govern the ladies in the seven-inch heels and moiré silk, and protect them from being exploited. It's not just a matter of fatness and thinness. The rules will govern their health, well-being and their treatment by employers. Models will have to carry a certificate from their doctor (or, if they're Lily Cole, their tutor) saying that they are not dying of anorexia, and their progress will be monitored to ensure they're not exploited by foul men, or forced into escort work or prostitution.

Good for the Milanese, but I can't help thinking their initiative could be applied to other professions:

Journalists. In future, all aspirant newspapermen must comply with strict guidelines. Male journalists must display a minimum Body Mass Index (BMI) of 29.9, a lung/smoke ratio of 43 per cent, a Gullibility Factor of 48 per cent, an above-average fascination for the weekly sayings of Nikki off Big Brother and a capacity to think up Headlines Based on Really Crap Puns that's no less than 39.5. During summer months, their news stories will be inspected to ensure they're not painfully thin. Projections by political editors will be examined to see if they have any hope of sustaining life. Journalists will be followed to make sure they're not being led into the shady demi-monde of writing advertising copy for Argos catalogues, or drifting into prostitution by writing pieces for the Daily Mail.

Politicians. All candidates standing for Parliament must henceforth carry a certificate confirming the slenderness of their convictions, and their readiness to execute, at any moment, 180-degree turns on matters of environment, education or immigration. They must have achieved a Talking Bollocks for Several Minutes Index of 5.8, must demonstrate a proven ability to Ride Unaccustomed Forms of Transport, including bicycles and husky sledges. No politician can take his/her seat in the House without a 60 per cent score in Knowing the Words to Arctic Monkey Songs. For the first two years of their careers, they will be closely watched for signs of Succumbing to Private Demons in off-licences or being prompted into Moments of Madness in public parks.

Dentists. New rules insist that dentists achieve a Halitosis Index of 71.5 or better. They must carry a certificate from a reputable College of Dentistry (preferably Melbourne) promising they will never, ever join the British NHS, and must observe strict guidelines to ensure they converse only on Breathtakingly Anodyne Subjects (eg, pets, cakes, George Alagiah) while drilling cavities. Every dentist must be regularly tested on his/her capacity to suggest otiose treatments ("I'd recommend a crown or a veneer in front, for the authentic Hollywood look"), and they must score 70 per cent or higher in Making Up Huge Bills on the Spur of the Moment.

Plumbers. All plumbers must observe the Lateness Index, arrivingat least 45 minutes after the start of an emergency. They must abide by the modern plumbers' code in Turning Up Without the Right Tools, demonstrating Pretentious Tastes in Coffee ("Just a regular machiato, thanks, no whipped cream"), and score 80 per cent or better in whistling "Brown Girl in the Ring" ad nauseum. Excuses for charging a £180 callout fee should be thin, but not excessively thin, and the flesh displayed while recumbent under the bath should suggest a BMI of not less than 48.9...


I know my thoughts should be on a more elevated level, but I keep wondering about the bonking judges and the alleged Brazilian blackmailer. Specifically, I can't help wondering what Judge I, in one of his billets-doux to the "chilli-hot" Ms Driza, meant when he thanked her for the "delicious P" she had given him the day before. Since he'd already complimented the lady on being "a lovely shag", he wasn't necessarily talking about sex in this instance. So what can it be, the delicious P? A paella? A pork pie? Since she was his cleaner, it's tempting to imagine it might be Pledge, though I've never heard it described as delicious. It can't be the name of a rock band, can it, along the lines of Tenacious D? My less delicate-minded confrères are sure it's a reference to the urinous perversion called "water sports", but I can't believe it. Such behaviour would be anathema to a lady who does - especially if she's the one who has to clean it all up afterwards.


What on earth does "resile" mean? Tony Blair has been using the word like a mantra in recent interviews. "I'm not going to resile from that promise," he assured Andrew Marr on Sunday, or, "You won't find me resiling from this position." I thought I knew every word in the politician's lexicon (eg, Gordon Brown's ghastly piece of 1980s management-speak, "The Labour Party succession is a challenge that is also an opportunity"), but "resiling" was a new one on me. I sprang to my new Chambers and learned that it's a Scots word meaning to back out of an agreement, although its more general meaning is "to recoil; to rebound; to recover form and position elastically". I like the image of the PM bouncing about like an elastic Tigger, regaining his original proportions while his party tries to squish him into a grotesque shape. But is he saying the word just to be tantalising, because it sounds so much like "I'm not going to resign..."?