I suppose it's as seasonal as the migratory herring but I continue to find myself drifting away from The Guardian as my paper of choice. I still visit it every day for the cartoons, especially those by the incomparable Martin Rowson, but I'm increasingly clicking off it without any regard for of the articles. More often than I've realised until today, I find my mouse pointer moving towards the new link on my browser which takes me straight to The Independent.
One of the problems I continue to have with The Guardian is the amount of content written about (or often written by) sex workers. Not that there's anything wrong with sex workers who, I'm sure, are a friendly bunch of wayward souls, even when you get to know them on a non-profit basis. But unfortunately I'm one of those prickly snobs who prefers his prose written by trained (and preferably gifted) journalists. That's not to say that a high class call girl can't write a good paragraph about the global situation but they probably have ideas about the 'Russian position' that aren't for my breakfast table. It's like asking an economist to write a review of the latest sex toy and being surprised when they don't tell you about the size, shape and horsepower, but instead explain the market fluctuations in the global price of pink rubber.
My reticence about talking about these things might be simply my excessive English reserve. It might also be a generational thing, though I suspect it's more about my northern working class upbringing and the world of my youth. Sex was, in the words of Larkin, '[a] shame that started at sixteen / And spread to everything'. Somebody brought up in a middle class bohemian household might find the business neither quite so sordid nor quite so silly. And they might not find The Guardian's obsession with the sex trade so ultimately boring.
Take the headlines from today (I write this at the well-spanked end of Friday). The Guardianistas are getting heated about the 'face sitting protest at parliament'. Now, I'll admit here and now that I've never really fancied sitting on a person's face and can honestly say, with my hand on my naked heart, that being smothered by a woman's ample buttocks doesn't really appeal to me. I just can't imagine a scenario that might change my mind. In fact, let me indulge in a male vice for a moment, just for the sake of this blog... Let me remove the shackles from my usual English reserve and imagine a scenario by which The Guardian actually responds favourably to one of the cartoons I occasionally send them. Let's imagine the cartoon becomes an instant hit and it's spotted by my favourite blue-haired alternative diva of the moment, St Vincent, aka Annie Clark.
Fantasising on: Ms. Clark sees my cartoon and decides that it's perfect for her impressive right shank. She also thinks there's only one man who can ink it for her and that man's initials are Yours Truly.
'Dear Waywell,' she writes in an email. 'Sending you plane fare and costs to travel over here to Brooklyn to ink a tattoo on my upper leg. Very busy writing new album (Japanese spoons & brass bands) so haven't time to lie down. Can you work on your back as I write poems at my desk whilst sitting on my favourite comically wobbly stool as made for me by David Byrne? Yours. Annie.'
Now, obviously, I'd reply with an emphatic 'no' and explain why she shouldn't deface her perfect thigh with a tattoo. However, this is also the illogical stuff of an erotic dream so off to New York I go and I'm soon hard at work tattooing my cartoon onto one shapely upper right leg. However, mid cartoon, the tattoo gun leaps from my trembling hand, bounces off her Albanian banjo and hits the aforementioned comically wobbly stool made for her by David Byrne. Typical of Byrne, he's used cheap recycled wood and the stool breaks apart. With a pitch perfect scream (a la 'Digital Witness'), St Vincent begins to fall, her perfect posterior crashing down onto my face. What am I to do? How would I feel as I begin to struggle for air? Would I feel blessed by my current state or desperate to live so I might warn people about the dangers of tattooing cartoons on the underside of a favourite singer/songwriter/shredder?
Now this is far from scientific but, as I'm writing this, I am trying to detect any carnal stirrings from down below and I can honestly say that I can't feel a thing. It's as dead down there as a yard of Russell Brand's prose. Of course, it might be because the room is cold and my feet and legs are numb. Perhaps I simply damaged myself down there by blowing my school recorder too hard many moons ago. Yet the fact remains that the thought of my favourite screech rocker landing on my face does absolutely nothing for me and I still struggle to see what pleasure anybody could derive from such a strange practice.
Yet it's not just their current obsession with face sitting that turns me off The Guardian. Nor is it the articles with deliberately provocative headlines written by their odd looking dominatrix. Again, I'm sure there's a world for that sort of thing but the idea of being whipped into a frenzy by a plump woman in gimp mask doesn't sound like fun. I have better things to do with my evenings.
No, the reason I'm drifting away from The Guardian is because they seem to think they we should all be open about every aspect of our lives and, as we say here in the North, sod that for a game of soldiers (also 'a thing' down in sophisticated parts of London). Not only is a person's private life none of anybody's business but they should have the good sense not to bore me with the details. Since when do we all have to be open about our tastes, our private lives, our urges and desires? I sometimes realise I'm being vulgar when I express my lust for a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (the i7 model with a heap load of memory) but what would people think if I started to write out every lustful thought I have towards, for example, the blue-haired member of Pussy Riot. Have you heard the way she says 'blue chicken' at 1:07 in this video? Now tell me it doesn't drive you crazy despite your ice cold feet!
The Guardian still has some sharp writing talent yet I drift further away with every shock headline, deliberately provocative statement, and sexually explicit detail they publish. Their business still makes an annual loss despite their immensely popular website but the people who'll eventually make the paper a success aren't people like me. To become popular you need to embrace the mainstream and, apparently, the mainstream is comprised of face sitters. That wouldn't be so bad but alongside the real journalists with fire in their pens, The Guardian employ slow lane grifters who are good for nothing more than click bait. Bring the two together -- the sitters and the grifters -- and you have a newspaper that's left me far behind. Very far behind with my fantasies as private as they're also very very dull (stockings, Norwegians, frogsuits).