Piers Morgan - Clown Prince of Wankerdom
In Piers Morgan's latest book (Don't You Know Who I Am?), there's an exchange between him and his young son after a man has called Piers a wanker at a football match.
Piers explains that this is one of the consequences of having been a tabloid editor.
But, says Pier's son, everyone in America thinks you're a wanker too and they don't even know that you were a tabloid editor.
As Morecambe and Wise used to say: there's no answer to that.
I found Piers Morgan's first bestseller, The Insider, quite enjoyable light reading when I was sitting in the garden a couple of years ago. It covered his period in journalism and included the revelation of the extraordinary number of times Blair invited him to Downing Street when he could have been doing something more useful.
But this follow-up book of diaries is simply dreadful: intensely irritating and atrociously written.
The trick Piers tries to pull in both books is to say 'Yes, I've been an idiot and done some stupid things', hoping this honesty will endear him to us. It doesn't really work because idiocy is usually irritating even when it's not combined, as in Piers' case, with gargantuan arrogance and conceit.
Actually, he's more likely to call himself a 'chump' than an 'idiot'. It's a very John Major-ish term, but I think it comes from his years as a tabloid journalist. As Keith Waterhouse pointed out years ago in his book 'On Newspaper Style', the tabloids use a language that nobody uses in everyday life. Few people today say 'chump', just as nobody calls a prostitute a 'good-time girl', though for all I know the tabloids may still be using the latter expression.
Piers is also a master of the misjudged simile or metaphor. Take this example, where he's describing his son waiting for his exam results:
"Spencer was pacing around like a hyperactive caterpillar, slithering from one group of friends to another..."
Has Piers ever seen a caterpillar? Was Spencer 'pacing', 'slithering' or down on the floor undulating like a caterpillar (or a break dancer)?
I write duff similes like that every day but when I read them back and realise they don't work I hit the Delete key.
In Piers' book people rarely 'laugh'. They always 'cackle'. There must be several hundred cackles in this book. 'If I read the word 'cackle' again, the book goes through the fucking window', I cackled last night.
'Cackle' is not a synonym for 'laugh'. It refers to a specific type of laugh. Is it possible that virtually everyone Piers meets 'cackles'? Well maybe it's the effect he has on people, just as the word 'wanker' seems to spring from most people's lips within a few moments of encountering him.
I suppose, given his tabloid background, it's a miracle that nobody ever 'quips'.
Piers' sons are sent to Prep School and then, in one case, to Charterhouse. Remember that the next time you see him playing the Leftie on Question Time and lambasting the Old Etonian clique who run the Tory Party.
When the young Pugh-Morgan (yes, the ex-Mirror editor has bestowed upward mobility on his kids with both barrels) is being packed off to boarding school, Piers' ex-wife is in floods of tears. There are few people I despise more than those mothers who sit weeping as they choose to abandon their young children to the care of people they hardly know. They should think themselves lucky they are not working class, for then they would have Social Services knocking on their door.
To be fair, if I must, there's an interesting insight into the strange world where celebrities and politicians inter-mingle at Notting Hill parties. At a Christmas drinks party at Matthew Freud and Elisabeth Murdoch's 'sumptuous' Notting Hill house, David Cameron and George Osborne rub shoulders with D-list celebrities.
A very drunk Jamie Theakston relentlessly pursues Piers' girlfriend. An enraged Piers storms out and walks off down Ladbroke Grove. Then his girlfriend runs after him and drags him back. There's an altercation between Piers and Theakston. "Go on, hit him!" screams Gordon Ramsay. Piers says to Theakston: "If you touch her one more time I'm going to touch you, and not in a way that you'll enjoy. Comprende, amigo?"
It's somewhat different from the threats you'd hear outside The Dog and Duck on a Friday night, especially that foreign flourish at the end. And it's not recorded whether Celia, Piers' girlfriend, said: "Leave it Piers. He's not worth it."
But what does this remind you of? Yes, a bunch of teenage kids at one of those parties at a parents' house that they've organised on Facebook.
I wouldn't mind - we've all been there - but these are the Pontificating Classes, forever telling the hoodies, the hoodlums and the underclass that they drink too much and fight too much.
There are countless tedious pages of Piers agonising over his new TV career and celebrity status. He desperately wants to be recognised in the street but is irritated when it happens. It's Simon Cowell who gives him his big break as a judge on America's Got Talent. He then inflicts him on the British public on Britain's Got Talent, where he can never decide whether to be Mr Nice or Mr Nasty. He desperately wants to be loved but also craves the attention that comes from being controversial. So everthing he says is transparent and calculated. Now ITV are paying him megabucks to host a chat show, which is extraordinary given that Piers is the exact opposite of a 'TV natural'.
Behind his cold, dead eyes is a fiery ambition unsupported by any particular talent. But when you see a smug smile spread over this chump's chops, it's because he may be a wanker but he wanks all the way to the bank.