Letter from Simon Kelner

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The Independent Online

I bet you thought there was nothing more to say on the News of the World phone-hacking scandal. Well, that's where you're wrong, my friend. For a start, who's paid due homage to the novelist Will Self who made possibly the most entertaining contribution to this whole affair with his appearance on Newsnight on Friday?

He started off on the wilder shores of articulacy by claiming that the whole "imbroglio was epi-phenomenal" and then worked himself up to a sentence with an even higher difficulty tariff – "a weird demagogic faux egalitarianism". In between, he referred to a fellow guest on the show as "this quondum employee". Given that this was in the middle of a proper stand-up (or rather sit-down) barney between the comedian Steve Coogan – on the highest of high horses – and a low-rent former News of the World journalist – who's been on TV more than the test card over the past week – it was quite a feat for Self to stick to his guns, and not compromise on the "words we've never heard before" front. At one stage, I'm sure I heard Kirsty Wark say "Oh, come off it Will," but he's not a man to be put off his stride. I have the great good fortune of knowing Mr Self on a social footing, and his linguistic dexterity is every bit as impressive in private. I never come away from one of our encounters without learning a new word.

The last time it was "plangent", which means "a loud, reverberating and melancholy sound" and which I now drop into my conversation as often as possible. Self's knowledge of geography is equally impressive – he walks everywhere, and once went on foot from the centre of London to Heathrow, then got on a plane, and walked from JFK airport to Manhattan. It took him several days. Recently, he proved to me the relative distances of two points in London by getting out a map and using a banana as a measuring device! That's Will Self for you – an epi-phenomen in eight letters! More long words tomorrow!





Simon Kelner is Editor-in-Chief of The Independent, The Independent on Sunday and i

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