I rang home this week and spoke to my mum. After the usual weather update and discovering that she's already made and frozen two Christmas 'loaves' and three-dozen mince pies, we move on to current affairs. I ask:
"What do you think about this pick-up artist that's in the news?"
"Who's a piss artist?" she replies.
Apart from her misunderstanding being unintentionally hilarious, it was also one of those moments of poetic clarity. Because surely that's what this guy is? A piss artist. You know, rather than a shut-down-the-borders threat to our national security and womenfolk's knickers.
For those who may have missed the furore, American Idiot Julien Blanc is a 'self-styled pick-up artist' who gives seminars to losers about how to seduce women. The reason people have a problem with him – other than him being an idiot – is because his womanising methods are considered misogynistic and even abusive towards women. As a result, he's been refused entry to the UK after a massive Twitter shit-storm and the Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone lobbying the Home Secretary to refuse him a visa.
But back to him being a piss artist. The main picture doing the rounds has Blanc looking very East 17 (as in the Nineties band with dodgy hair and clothes) and pointing to his T-shirt, emblazoned with the slogan 'Diss Fatties, Bang Hotties'. Erm, sexy! His killer move? Guiding a woman's head towards his crotch. How original!
Now I'm not making light of the fact that the whole shtick of the pick-up fraternity, which is to tactically lower a woman's self-esteem in order to get her to sleep with their loser selves. That is definitely not a healthy message that we should be helping to endorse. But I can't deny that my reaction is more bemusement than outrage. I mean, this guy's a total buffoon: a piss artist of the highest order.
And why is nobody questioning the validity of the title 'pick-up artist'? I mean, really?
"It makes me think of a magician from yesteryear twiddling his moustache," said my mate Emma over the phone. "Like there's dastardly trickery afoot and all us silly, vulnerable women should beware."
And from a male friend: "'pick-up artist' just smacks of Eighties ITV, à la hapless holidaymaker Keith Barron in Duty Free". Ha-ha! Yes!
Final word, though, has to go to the wonderful novelist Jojo Moyes who hits the idiot on his stupid head with her tweet: "I'm not sure we should have banned Julien Blanc. Might have been more effective for women to buy up all the seats and just laugh at him"