Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Myerson saga and the lives of others

The Daily Mail have been enjoying themselves all this past week at the expense of Julie Myerson and her book about her skunk-hound son. That's to be expected. Successful, photogenic, liberal, well-paid members of the chattering classes must expect that when something goes wrong with their lives the defenders of the great unlettered will rush to put the boot in.

But I bet her husband Jonathan Myerson wasn't expecting the reception he got from the visitors to the Guardian site when he published his own defence of the family's right to publish the story. The viciousness of some of the responses here seems to come from the same streak of English envy that runs through the Mail like bacteria through cheese. Everybody's entitled to their view on whether the Myersons were right to go public about their problems with their eldest son. But anyone who has lived with even the most biddable teenagers knows full well what hurt they can cause and should thus refrain from commenting on how trying the boy might have been in this particular case. In summary the attitude of the Guardian readers seems to be "ten years of intensive skunk use never did me any harm and anyway what do you expect if you write for the posh papers?"

Still find it hard to believe that Schadenfreude isn't an English word.


  1. I've studiously avoided getting involved with this pointless palaver as I've no interest in assisting Myerson with her sales.

    I think they're trivialising the conversation that needs to be had regarding skunk, cannabis and legality with their own (no doubt exaggerated for copy purposes) 'tragedy' tale - and I wish they'd shut up.

    As for Guardian commenters - they're a pack of animals, but they've every right to sound off if they want - that's what the comments section is for, after all. Page views = ad revenue. And the Guardian are well aware of that.

  2. The whole business has underlined my perception that Myerson is an unbearable individual, and that, if she were my mother, I'd be ingesting everything going to help me forget the fact.

    I once sat opposite her on a train from Suffolk to London. Over two hours with that lemon-sucking face in front of me. A urine-soaked tramp would have been preferable.

  3. A new dimension to Mail-phobia. Horrible messages by Guardian readers on the Guardian website are now the Mail’s fault.

  4. Richard. I don't think I said that. Not that it matters.

  5. While some of the comments on the Guardian site have indeed been needlessly insulting, the fact remains that Julie and Jonathan Myerson have written about their children incessantly for years, and seem to be baffled at how one of them (so far?) has gone off the rails. This has nothing to do with "slagging off the chattering classes", David. Children are involved, and for self-obsessed journalists and authors to bleat about the "truth" is a laughable and chilling betrayal of their offspring.

    Sometimes, I wonder if the thing that some journalists care about more than anything else in the world is other journalists.

  6. The depth of viciousness in those Guardian reader comments is astounding. I suppose there is an element of our old friend the 'anonymity of the internet' that allows those who comment the freedom to be so cruel.
    I doubt they would be so outspoken if they met the Myersons socially.
    I have no strong view on the right or wrong of publishing this book. I am, though, saddened by the tone and language of the anonymous critics.

  7. David Hepworth said...
    Richard. I don't think I said that. Not that it matters.

    Sorry if I misread what you said. I just think the demonisation of the Mail is becoming a tired cliche. I read two papers every day: the Times and the Mail. I simply don’t recognise this caricature of the Mail as a stream of obnoxious bile. It’s conservative for sure but that’s an interesting and worthwhile point of view and there’s a lot to be said for old-fashioned Middle England common sense. In the Myerson case you can put it down to: 1) it’s not a good idea for a family to wash its dirty linen in public. 2) there are a few chickens hatched by modern, progressive liberal types that are coming home to roost.
    As for Guardian readers writing nasty things on the website: well the lentil-eaters aren’t as tolerant, open-minded, kind and compassionate as they like to think they are.

  8. Some interesting points there, Richard. But isn't your position against those who take a stereotyped view of the Mail rather undermined by dismissing Guardian readers as "lentil eaters"? As cliches go, that's a yawner.

  9. johnlyons121,
    I was joking. Funnily enough I’ll be rinsing some lentils later this evening for my signature dish, a beef casserole that involves carrots, celery and a bottle of Youngs Waggledance.

  10. I'm sorry if I've said this before but the strongest newspapers in the UK are: The Sun, the Mail and the Guardian. That's because they've all got a really strong sense of the prejudices of their readers.

  11. Tell you what, Richard - conveying irony with the written word alone can be a tricky bleeder, can't it? I tried that with a recent posting on The Word blog, and succeeded in aligning myself to a viewpoint directly opposing the one I actually held.

    Sorry if this is OT, David.

  12. I'm sorry if I've said this before but the strongest newspapers in the UK are: The Sun, the Mail and the Guardian. That's because they've all got a really strong sense of the prejudices of their readers.

    Nail on head.