BBC BLOGS - Magazine Monitor
« Previous | Main | Next »

Paper Monitor

12:21 UK time, Thursday, 29 April 2010

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

So it's goodbye to Daily Mail regular Allison Pearson, who is hanging up her columnist's spurs.

On Wednesday she penned a heartfelt farewell, explaining how she was sick and tired of feeling, well, sick and tired. It's practically part of the job description for a Mail columnist to mine her private life for material. But this set an altogether more poignant tone, headlined "Depression's the curse of my generation and I'm struggling in its grasp".

Just as her best-selling novel I Don't Know How She Does It opens with a very recognisable anecdote - a working mum pimping supermarket mince pies to look more homemade for the school fete - Pearson's farewell column opens with another very recognisable anecdote, about her teenage efforts to ace those multi-choice questionnaires in Jackie.

"More than 30 years later, I found myself in a psychiatrist's consulting room with a questionnaire in front of me. I recognised the format immediately: 'Please circle A, B, C or D.' Only this wasn't a quiz about how to avoid being a wallflower at parties, or make yourself into the ideal bride for Donny Osmond (convert to Mormonism, get your teeth fixed, wear a lot of purple). The options on this particular multiple choice said things like: 'I find I take very little pleasure in life these days'... My pen hesitated. I wanted to be sure I circled the right answer. Despite the fact I'd finally felt rotten enough to seek professional help, pride dictated that I still came across as the best kind of girl to be."

In the second part of her column, she has a pop at Gordon Brown's Britain (written pre-"bigoted woman" outburst), writing about how she has long fantasised about leaving the country.

"But for reasons that must be apparent from my confessions elsewhere on this page, I'll no longer be writing this column."

The Guardian, however, notes her fans may not have long to wait before she reappears in newsprint:

"The Daily Telegraph is understood to have been trying to poach her."

In the meantime, Pearson's replacement is Sandra Parsons (confusing for a bear of little brain such as Paper Monitor), who was editor of the Times's recently culled T2 section. The Mail describes her as "sassy, smart and very human". What does "very human" actually mean? Paper Monitor turns to the Times to find out. It's had a hasty clear-out of links to Parsons' past columns, but a little digging turns up self-deprecating tales of juggling work with family life, a la Pearson.

"Which brings me to the fact that we have no dishwasher. ('No dishwasher?' gasped an incredulous colleague. 'NO DISHWASHER? You realise that these days that's like saying you don't have a television?')

Now Mail columnists have quite a track record when it comes to generating headlines and galvanising outrage, such as:

  • Jan Moir on Stephen Gately's death
  • The late Lynda Lee-Potter on Mo Mowlam's appearance
  • And Pearson herself, refusing to return a fuming Duchess of York's phone calls after joking about Princess Beatrice in a bikini

Is this a contractual obligation? Paper Monitor likes to imagine that break time at Mail Columnist HQ involves a cuppa, a Rich Tea biscuit, and a quick game of darts... only instead of bellowing "ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY!" after a particularly high-scoring round, the aim is to take pot-shots at an inappropriate target and so mobilise the Twitterati against you.

Ms Parsons, your time starts... now.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.