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Paper Monitor

10:18 UK time, Friday, 17 February 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Paper Monitor has long celebrated the celebrity-skewering wordsmithery of the Guardian's Marina Hyde, and this week the Lost In Showbiz columnist outdoes herself.

Hyde turns her gaze to the second autobiography by Alex James, erstwhile Blur bass player, occasional Sun food writer and "Britain's premier cheese bore".

It's fair to say that James's conversion from rock star to whey-mixing country squire has been extensively documented, not least by James himself, and Paper Monitor, like Hyde, has long wearied of his "rennet-based droning".

Hyde's verdict on the book? "James writes like the brilliant satirist Craig Brown has got hold of his computer and done his worst."

And certainly, it's hard to disagree with her verdict based on passages like this:

Let's lay our first scene in a chapter entitled CHEESE, in which Alex's land agent poses the fateful question: "'Do you like cheese?' I told him I did," reveals Alex.

Still they come. "The bigger your house is, the less you throw away." "The Industrial Revolution skipped the Cotswolds." "A lot of problems would be solved if everybody lived on farms."

And then there is this excerpt:

"On the whole," muses Alex, "I was surprised how much I liked most of the people who lived nearby. Not just the nobs and the billionaires. We took on two gypsies from the trailer park as cleaners and they fascinated me. The younger one was very pretty ..." The reader is never burdened with their names - the elder cleaner is described elsewhere in the book as "the not-so-pretty gypsy girl".

But, according to Hyde nothing matches a "six-page hymn to what can only be described as the most twattish shop on the planet". Run by the wife of a local billionaire who, according to James, doesn't "particularly care about making money", it apparently sells a range of "tasteful objects", which "radiates prestige", boasting "a whole New Age massage, yogaromatherapy wing, apparently staffed by Tibetan Buddhist monks".

Hyde's despair radiates from the page. Paper Monitor applauds.

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