Mercury has been retrograde in my eleventh house, which is my excuse for not having blogged recently. Since last I wrote, I have been liberated from an abusive relationship of thirty-three years. Thanks to this post at Obsolete, I finally hit rock bottom and woke up from my state of denial. In the early days of the relationship, in the early Seventies, it had lured me in with Jill Tweedie and James Cameron,and I had became hooked. Lacking a strong sense of self, I gladly took on the identity of a Guardian reader. But it has changed and so have I, and I should have left it long ago.
The Zoë Williams story was the final straw. When I first read the Obsolete piece, I assumed he'd copied most of it from Private Eye, but I've since learned that the Eye only had a tiny paragraph on it, so hats off to Septicisle for digging up the, er, dirt and presenting it so clearly. I felt sullied, having read it. I half-expected Williams to resign or be sacked - if it had been the NYT, she would, for bringing the paper, its readers and her profession into disrepute - but then I remembered that this was the newspaper that had launched Operation Clark County, which had helped swing the '04 election to Cheney and Bush. Its perpetrators, Alan Rusbridger and Ian Katz, not only did not resign, nor were sacked by the Scott Trust, but the latter got a promotion and the former got paid half a million quid last year, via a 14.7% salary increase and £175000 bonus, for turning the Guardian into a comic. They are Zoë Williams' superiors,and given that she wouldn't going, I felt I had to.
The only things I really looked forward to in the Guardian were Doonesbury, which the aforementioned then-G2 editor Ian Katz tried to drop at the relaunch on the grounds that Guardian readers weren't clever enough to understand it, and which I can still read at Slate, and the Corrections' column, although it never corrected nearly as much as it should have. I won't miss the daily, centrefold photograph, which symbolized for me the triumph of the image over the word ('In the beginning was the image, sayeth the Guardian'), turning the readers into voyeurs; the 'people' column, which was about celebrities' lives; the gambling-advice pages in the sports section; all of the G2 section, save for Doonesbury; Steve Bell; its relentless obsession with popular culture; et al.
So, now I'm a free man, liberated from the unbearable lightness of being a Guardian reader. Thanks to Zoë Williams and to Obsolete for helping to facilitate this act of liberation.
p.s. This was the paragraph in Private Eye, appended to a story on Peter Hitchens.
P.S. Hitchens may not be the only hack to be a victim of cyber-mischief. The entry on online encyclopedia Wikipedia for Guardian journalist Zoe Williams was recently amended, with the insertion of the phrases "highly regarded", "witty articles" and "critically acclaimed". The user who made the revisions? One "Zoewilliams". [PE 1179: 7]