The requirements of the Mail

This is really a response to Anna Blundy’s  truthful and brilliant  piece

About how women journalists are encouraged to dig within their souls for the Daily Mail and find a guilty heart of darkness which probably wasn’t there in the first place.Anna, you put your finger on it precisely. It’s great being in the Mail – the money is welcome and everyone reads it. But what has to happen to your principles and character in order to be in there? You have to dump them, basically.  My experiences, I have discovered, were exactly the same as Anna’s. Almost to the letter.

I wrote a rather jolly piece for the Times about a month ago, explaining how I encourage my 4 children to play instruments, do maths, learn Latin etc etc. Hothousing maybe – but they seem to enjoy it.

The Mail asked me to rewrite it with a bit more  of ‘me’ in it. Vaguely flattered, I did so. The piece came back with large capital letters all over it. HOW DID YOU FEEL?  HOW DID YOUR CHILDREN FEEL? I found myself completely changing the slightly breezy tone of the original and writing an angst-ridden piece which related back to my years as an arts correspondent for BBC News, (which I did when my children were tiny). I explained how dreadful it had been to work away from my children, and that now I am working at home, I spend every last second crouching over them helping them with their maths and C sharp minor scales. MUCH BETTER said the response. Was it truthful? Well, sometimes I did feel bad about leaving the children.  But other times, I didn’t. In honesty the reason I badger them to play the piano at the moment is not from an inner need to mother them, but because I cannot be bothered to pay for lessons on something which isn’t practised. It’s the economics, stupid.

The piece never ran, of course. “It’s in the mix” I was told. Then, “It’s out of the mix, but it’s listed for next Thursday”. I fear it that even though I had Mailed it up as much as I could, it didn’t have enough breast bearing, enough self loathing and enough guilt to pass muster.

Why do we fall for the lure of Femail?


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