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Home > Media

Journojism: When Simon left Polly

17 June 2005

Since the break-up of her marriage to one-time Today editor Rod Liddle, Rachel Royce hasn't so much been washing her dirty laundry in public as dragging people in off the street and refusing to let them leave until they've taken a good long sniff of a pile of soiled undies.

The background to this tale of everyday media types is that Liddle ditched Royce in favour of someone less than half his age - Alicia Monckton, an attractive secretary on the Spectator. Since then Royce has written (or been interviewedfor) numerous articles in which she's bemoaned her lot as an abandoned media mummy.

(In fairness, nor has Liddle been slow to squeeze a few column inches out of the divorce. 'Why,' he opined in his Sunday newspaper column recently, 'bother working when divorce will net you a fortune?' What on earth could he be
referring to?)

And why, you might be wondering by now, does anyone want to waste their time with this sort of solipsistic, London-centric media wank? The answer is simple - it's like watching a thousand Volvos pile up on the motorway: a spectacularly bourgeois car crash.

Take the fact that Liddle is having a baby with his new squeeze Monckton. In the real world, this is usually a deeply upsetting thing for any ex-spouse. In Liddle/Royce's world, it's hilarious. Royce writes:

'To add insult to injury, Rod had shared the news with a neighbour that he was having a baby girl before he'd told me. He'd also told him that they might call the baby 'Sorrel' - a name we had thought of calling our first baby if we had had a girl.'

We thought 'sorrel' was a type of mushroom, so we looked it up. Actually it means 'reddish brown or light chestnut' or 'any of the acid-tasting species of herb of the dock genus'. So they wanted to name the child after either a colour or a salad ingredient? Sorrel, meet your brother and sister: Alpine Green and Crouton.

In fact, Liddle and Royce's existing children, we discover, have the only-marginally-less-awful names Tyler and Wilder. In a particularly non-heartbreaking moment, Royce tells us:

'Wilder had asked me: "Is Alicia going to be our mummy now?"... He eventually asked: "Mummy, when Daddy marries Alicia, will you die?"'

This may be wishful thinking on Liddle's part. But however much Royce tries to get our sympathy with heart-rending tales of children caught up in an acrimonious divorce, she goes and blows it with yet more middle-class poncery:

'Rod met my new boyfriend David when we were at my sister's house in London and Rod was dropping off the boys. They went out of their way to be jolly to each other, exchanging football anecdotes and blokey jokes. But then Rod infuriated David by being extremely rude about my family and my dead mother. He then asked David whether he'd watched his programme about immigration on Channel 4. "No," David replied. "It was my birthday and I was too busy making love to your wife." I loved him for that - although I know it wasn't grown-up at all.'

Royce seems to be blissfully unaware that she's turned into Private Eye's appalling columnist Polly Filler, endlessly regurgitating relentlessly trivial and unremarkable tales of middle-class life. Not only this, but Liddle has become her very own 'useless Simon'.

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