Thursday 2 June 2011
Julie Burchill: A word of advice, Lily. Don't listen to what people like me say about you
They say it takes two to tango, but you can have a Twitter war all by yourself, as I found out this week when none other than the lovely Lily Allen came over all Bottish at some throwaway remark of mine in another newspaper comparing her unfavourably to Cheryl Cole. Yes, between baking cakes, milking publicity – sorry, cows – and making television documentaries/doing interviews about how she's turned her back on fame, Miss Antoinette – sorry, Allen – found the time to Twitter that I was, "an ignorant and bitter old troll... the amateur psychiatrist in me says sees a lot of her younger self in me, and she's a bit of a 'self-loather'." She also spelt my name wrong, and I can say hand on heart that that's the only thing that hurt. After all these years, dammit!
I guess the reason it rolled off me so slickly is that being called self-loathing by Lily Allen is an achievement akin to being called fat by Dawn French (which I have been.) This is the girl who once wrote on her blog that she was Googling cosmetic surgery because she felt "fat, ugly and shitter than Winehouse". Not only self-loathing, I'd say, but body dysmorphic (Allen was, is and always will be almost surreally beautiful) and a lousy appreciator of extreme female pulchritude (La Winehouse) into the bargain.
Still, it could have been worse. The last time I compared Violet Elizabeth – sorry, Lily Rose – unfavourably to Chezza, SHE GOT HER MUM ON TO ME! Yes, some three years ago I was the frankly amazed recipient of a long, rather sweet e-mail from the film producer Alison Owen in defence of her daughter. I've got to say there's a bit of a culture gap here – where I was educated you made damn sure your mother never came up the school to stand up for you once you were out of Mixed Infants, but they obviously do things differently at Bedales.
Anyway, sniggering aside, it was a lovely letter which I won't quote from here as I respect Miss Owen's ownership of her correspondence, but the gist was that Lily and her mummy had always liked me, but now I'd been nasty to Lils they didn't. But I own the rights over my words, so I'm going to reprint my reply here, in part as it's one of the most spot-on things I've ever written:
When we first make a choice – as your daughter did – to enter public life, there is a lesson above all which we must quickly learn if we are not to appear stupid. Sadly, it is a lesson of common sense, and thus one which a public-school education cannot buy. And that lesson is, "If you dish it out, you must take it". If we cannot absorb this childish-sounding but actually very intellectually rigourous piece of information quickly, we risk looking like, at least, cry-babies and at worst, filthy hypocrites.
You say that the Cheryl Cole comment was a long time ago. When, pray, was the following statement of your daughter's, in "retaliation' to being called 'middle-class" in a satirical song?
"So what if w'ere [sic] middle class? Just cause your mum was too lazy to get her fat ass up off the sofa and make some cash, I shouldn't be able to make tunes yeah?" It was last month!
This week it came to light that a baby born in working-class Glasgow will live 28 years less, on average, than one born in a middle-class area. Is this because those babies mums are, to quote your daughter, too lazy to get their fat asses up off the sofa and make some cash? What DO they teach children at those public schools? Something called "social racism", I fear. Do you really believe that this filthy prejudice against the poor should be allowed to pass without criticism? In a country with a free press? Of course you do – you're her mum. (Or "Mummy", or whatever you people call each other.) But I am not. I am a professional journalist, and if I see someone who has found fame and fortune partly by posing as "street" saying this I am going to call them on it.
I'll draw this to a close now, as I find it frankly amazing that a young, beautiful, immensely talented woman like your daughter should give a damn about the opinion of an old, fat hack long past her best. Another lesson we can teach the next generation is genuinely to not care what think people of us; if Lily can learn to take these basic life lessons on board, she has every chance of being happy one day. If not, she won't be.
PS "Never explain, never complain" – that's another good one.
Writing this I've realised that, though she may now loathe me, I really do have a soft spot for Lily Allen. Her contradictions and cantankerousness are the stuff legends are made of. She's gorgeous and smart. Just one thing makes me absolutely despair of her, and it's not the baked-goods-bothering, even.
Lily Allen, I'll say it one more time. You are a young beautiful, talented artist with your whole life in front of you. I am an old, fat, past-my-best hack with my triumphs behind me. BUT! If you go through life taking notice of what people like me say about you, you will never be one tenth as happy as I am now, in my porky dog-days. Get over it – and good luck.
Ticking the green box is a scoundrel's true last refuge
As people far smarter than me have pointed out, one of the creepiest minor crimes of this Coalition is the way they suck up to celebrities by giving them advisory jobs. I really wouldn't be surprised to find out that Cameron had made Dappy from N-Dubz First Lord of the Admiralty, just so he can make da biz relevant to da kidz.
Jamie Oliver and Mary Portas are two of the most annoying Giant Wagging Fingers going, so I was pleased to see both of them fall on their self-adoring asses this week. That money-mad clown Oliver's barbecue grill has been poorly rated in tests carried out by Which? magazine, in which eight other similar set-ups did better than his, one of them from the distinctly un-chic Argos at half the price.
Meanwhile Portas, champion of the small shop, was revealed as having done a whopping deal with Westfield to promote out-of-town shopping malls – EXACTLY the sort of thing she claims is killing the High Street!
Some people say patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, but I'd nominate the championing of small shops/organic produce/local sourcing/whatever; having ticked the green box, lots of people seem to think it gives them a free pass to act as shifty as they like. Still, considering what filthy hypocrites so many of our Honourable Members have been revealed to be recently, I'm sure Portas will fit right in.
Put down the pumice and pick up the Playstation
Apparently a growing number of marriages are being wrecked by video games, with an increasing number of broads filing for divorce and citing Lara Croft as co-respondent. Though I'm a total feminist, I've got to say that I'm on the why-can't-a-woman-be-more-like-a-man team here.
When men have Me Time, they really go for it – booze, pizza and hyper-violent video games. What's not to like! Whereas women are more likely to buy the "pampering" crap that's being relentlessly sold to them. Ladies, put down that pumice and pick up that Playstation controller – you have nothing to lose but being a boring old BUZZ-KILL!
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