Editor's letter: If you ask me…we would never swap Deborah for Pippa

Pippa Middleton for Deborah Ross? Seriously? As I said at the outset, oh dear.

Share

Oh dear. One of the joys of this job is receiving Deborah Ross’s column in advance, to read and in theory to approve.

I say in theory because there’s rarely been a contribution from Deborah that I haven’t delighted in. She’s that special creature: a genuinely funny writer. Her ability to poke and to diminish the biggest of egos, and to share her life with us (who can forget the travails of her son’s return from university, with the piles of washing in the hallway?), always with humour, sets her apart.

This week, she did it again, claiming that I’d fired her, to replace her with Pippa Middleton. “I did remonstrate with the editor of this newspaper quite vociferously… but, I’m afraid, he laughed in my face, and asked what I knew about Pimms or party planning or Wimbledon.”

“Where,” the editor asked, “was my exclusive interview with Roger Federer, revealing what he has for breakfast?”

Deborah broke down and wept. “I’d have asked Federer what he had for breakfast, had I been given the opportunity, and would have also asked him what he has for lunch!” Alas, “the editor shoo-ed me from his office, as he is a busy man. Things to do, people to see…”

The peg for Deborah’s sacking, she said, was that Pippa is everywhere: newly made contributing editor for Vanity Fair, columnist in Waitrose Kitchen Magazine, and author of a book on festive celebrations. And now at The Independent. When I read it, I assumed everybody would see it for the joke it was. But no. The following day readers, even a senior staff member, wanted to know if we’d appointed Pippa Middleton. One reader said they were cancelling their subscription in disgust.

They left me flummoxed. Hurt, I’ll admit, they should even think there was any truth in Deborah’s “news”.  Did they honestly think The Indy would give a column to the Duchess of Cambridge’s sister? How could they? Then I was reminded of the late, great Times columnist Bernard Levin who argued that his newspaper should have a type-face called “ironics” to warn his more poker-faced readers when he wasn’t being serious. In fact, as he said, Levin was quoting Tom Driberg, who “proposed that typographers should design a new face, which would slope the opposite from italics, and would be called ‘ironics’. In this type-face jokes would be set, and no one would have any excuse for failing to see them. Until this happy development takes place, I am left with the only really useful thing journalism has taught me: that there is no joke so obvious that some bloody fool won’t miss the point.”

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Campaign Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency is currently ...

Software Engineer - C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software En...

Software Team Leader - C++

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Software Tea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A young Palestinian boy walks over debris from a house that was destroyed in an airstrike in Deir Al Balah  

Arguments about Israel and Palestine have more to do with the fashion for revolutionary tourism than actual politics

James Bloodworth
 

The daily catch-up: what if Hillary sticks, drowning sorrows and open sesame

John Rentoul
Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor