Oh, get a room

by Deborah Hill Cone / 25 December, 2010
When does warm journalistic admiration turn into lasciviousness?

Simon Schama has a crush on Arianna Huffington. The famous historian has written a smoochy profile of Huff for the Financial Times and it is so full of flirty arse-patting one has to assume they are old flames from their Cambridge University days. Huffington is tall, warm-hearted and trim, wearing a top with "an edging of purplish-indigo-chiffon between bust and throat", Schama dribbles. She gives off waves of "improbably invincible happiness". She writes an "uber blog". Dribble, grope. "The dark hair is now a shade of California poolside honey and falls straighter to her shoulders. The mascara is generous but then it always was. Her laugh still proves you don't have to smoke to sound smokey. And her demeanour is, as it was then, open and generous." He's got it bad. "Arianna Huffington may not single-handedly be changing the nature of journalism in American life, but against the shit-storm of hatred and rage that is currently engulfing the country the 'countervailing force' of the Post does good strong work. So it's not just the flashing wide smile, the merry look in her eye and the proffered cheek which, as we say our goodbyes, makes me feel warm in the happy hour; it's that brand Arianna with its unrepentant embrace of social indignation and its laying about the fatuous and unjust has exactly what these miserable times call for: intelligent high spirit delivered with no mumbling or shuffling." Get a room.


The Mail media writer, Stephen Glover, who was one of the founders of the Independent, scores a good point about the liberal media elite's double standards on the WikiLeaks saga. Both the Guardian and the New York Times have had special access to the WikiLeaks documents and argue they are doing righteous work by spreading them about, despite the fact they are publishing private conversations. Not that long ago, both papers also led a "holy war" against tabloid News of the World for eavesdropping on phone conversations. Their hypocrisy was justified because they were hoping to bring down News of the World editor Andy Coulson, now an adviser to Downing Street. It's a bit rich, says Glover. "High-minded publications, like high-minded people, are sometimes slow to accept that they too have flaws. But there is another more basic explanation for the lack of moral consistency - the newspaper is desperate to finish off Coulson and acquire an important Tory scalp. The 'crime' must be made to seem as heinous as ­possible, and Mr Coulson's complicity insisted on."


After reading Roger Scruton's essay in Big Questions Online (I stumbled onto it through the Browser, which is a most worthwhile repository of links), I'm not quite sure why I bothered getting a philosophy degree. Apparently I shouldn't have wasted my time on all those essays on existentialism - I should have just shut up. In Effing the Ineffable, Scruton puts forward the idea there is no point trying to capture the truth in words. "The same idea occurs in Schopenhauer, for whom the truth of the world is Will, which cannot be represented in concepts. Schopenhauer devoted roughly 500,000 words to this thing that no words can capture. And he set a fashion that continues to this day." Same with Scruton, who manages to squeeze out a lazy 1000 words on the topic of not writing about it.


We could learn a lot from Elizabeth Hurley and Shane Warne, writes Jean Hannah Edelstein in the Guardian. Don't carry out your courtship via Twitter. "Sammy sends you a special lick," Hurley tweeted Warne in November, "and says he'd like to put his silky head on your shoulder." This is mortifying, Edelstein says, but only because you could be the one being caught out. "If one of us can claim that he or she has not communicated towards someone they have romantic feelings for in a ghastly manner, then I say: you, my friend, are lying. At its core, the greatest flirting art is the ability to detect when the object of your affection will be receptive to your sweet nothings - and knowing when to stop when it's clear that they think you're quite creepy. The line between these two states is awfully fine."



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