Sunday, 5 June 2005

Not even for the crossword

The other day the Daily Telegraph cheerfully published a piece by the criminal liar Jonathan Aitken rejecting the claim by a former CIA man to be Deep Throat, a claim which was almost immediately proved to be absolutely authentic.

In recent years the Telegraph has become an even lousier newspaper than it has been for most of its history and is making increasingly desperate efforts to keep its place as the house broadsheet of the right, the Times having given up this role nowadays by declining into relentless triviality and an obsession with the extremely rich. The Telegraph's attempts to excite the public about the Tory leadership are not likely to succeed, and they now seem to be pursuing the Hello! market, with a recent issue devoting a quarter of its front page and a half of page three to pictures of Princess Michael’s bedroom.

Its arts coverage is more inept and ill-informed than ever, though I doubt if it will ever exceed the crassness of a comment by their literary critic which I saw quoted on the back of the paperback edition of Thurber’s The Middle-Aged Man on the Flying Trapeze: “His humour corresponds closely with Charlie Chaplin’s, with some of the madness of Harpo Marx”. Well, yes, sums up Thurber perfectly; the words of the other two were just as memorable, weren’t they?

I’ve often thought that Noel Coward’s tap-dancing corresponds closely with Billy Connolly’s, with some of the controversial thrust of Danny Kaye’s novels.

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