No. 22: Hurleyism

ISMISMNew concepts for the Nineties
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Hurleyism n the quasi-religious belief that celebrity is a moral absolute, independent of qualitative judgements about the thing celebrated. Named after the sect's founder, Elizabeth Hurley, a woman imbued by some adherents with miraculous powers after making an international career out of 10 safety pins and a few yards of black silk. ("That Dress", Hurleyism's equivalent of the Shroud of Turin, features largely in the expansive devotional literature, though the faithful are discouraged from touching the hem of the garment, as it has to go back to Versace's in the morning.)

The founder's recent statements to the press, exploring in some detail her bewilderment and sadness at the indiscretions of her partner Hugh, are consistent with the movement's moral teachings. "No comment" is considered to be the most serious blasphemy a Hurleyist can utter. Some followerseagerly await the first authenticated tabloid photographs of Hurley tears, proof positive that the founder can turn whine into water.

Extreme Hurleyists believe that regular exposure to flashbulbs is indispensable to continued health, though it is conventional to declare the exact opposite. The experiment of taking requests to be "left in peace by the media" at face value has been opposed by the British Medical Council on the grounds of unjustifiable cruelty to the subject.

Hurley n originally a violent Irish game similar to hockey, involving two teams of 15 men. More recently taken up by popular papers with some rule changes: 15 teams of two men - one photographer and his accompanying "hack" - compete to see who can most successfully block a London pavement. Most games end in a draw, in which case results are decided by a casualty count. Tourists lucky enough to encounter a fixture will enjoy the traditional cries of "Overeerliz" and "Wotchityakhunt". A Hurley-burley is the colloquial name given to the ball's bodyguards.

qv the related Hugh and cry, a solo sport akin to hide and seek, in which competitors attempt to track down an apostate Hurleyist. In the event of no conclusive result the winner is the journalist who presents the largest and most creative expenses claim.

Hurl v Australian slang. To Hurl is to vomit forth copious quantities of unreflective prose on an undistinguished matter. For tabloid papers the expelled substance normally takes the form of uncritical adulation, for broadsheets, uncritical contempt, but the condition is essentially the same in both cases. Indeed sufferers can switch from one form of the illness to another with great rapidity. The Hurlers, gripped by violent and involuntary convulsions, are quite incapable of making sensible judgements about what they are writing. There is no known vaccine and the only cure is boredom.