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Home > Media

Journojism: The Bourgeoisie Are At the Gates

22 July 2006

If you're a liberal, or a bit of a lefty, there's a distinct lack of choice when it comes to buying a newspaper. Most of our daily newspapers are right-wing claptrap, The Mirror is just dogshit, and The Independent endlessly insists on gimmicky and patronising front covers designed to increase circulation, e.g., a picture of an Iraqi child with the top of their head blown off and the words:


This leaves The Guardian. We like The Guardian, but it increasingly seems to be selling itself as the north London wanker's journal of record. Increasingly, and particularly in the Saturday edition, articles appear that you initially think might be a pisstake of the worst kind of middle-class 'Jocasta was despairing of ever finding a Fair Trade pashmina' twaddle. But it never is. Step forward Charlotte Raven.

Charlotte Raven is a journalist who's best known for her one-off affair with Julie Burchill, and generally hanging out with Burchill and her fun-loving (i.e. coked-up) chums. However, she's also dabbled with Burchill-style, take-no-prisoners journalism, including a piece which upset a lot of Scousers a few years back: 'Scousers' propensity to linger over every misfortune until another comes to replace it makes them uniquely suited to the demands of the Bulger mourning marathon...' etc.

However, it's a small step from iconoclastic media enfant terrible to yummy mummy, and Raven popped up in last Saturday's Guardian with a lengthy article about the problems of child rearing that, at times, read like a spoof of the trivial traumas of the chattering classes:

'For some reason, none of the organic bakers produces a preservative-free wholemeal loaf soft enough for [her baby] Anna's sandwiches without being crumbly.'

This frankly disgraceful state of affairs leads Charlotte to consider baking her own bread, but she finds the range of flours 'disconcerting', so she puts the idea on a back burner and buys 'a Hemp Seed Bar as a treat for later'. However, it's grim up North London, and things do not go according to plan. Anna proves a handful to look after, and even eats Charlotte's hemp seed bar. 'When Tom got back, I was in tears. "She's been running me ragged",' says Charlotte.

Well, we hope things get better, Charlotte. Really. This is The Guardian though, and there is a Wider Point behind Charlotte's domestic Hades. The following paragraph adequately sums it up: 'At the outset, Tom and I seemed well equipped to forge a domestic culture founded on the liberal/progressive ideas developed in our youth. His work as an anthropologist had convinced him of the harmful nature of many western child-rearing practices. On dates in the SOAS [School of Oriental and African Studies, presumably] bar, we pictured our first baby smoking cheroots in a sling [?] while I tilled the back garden, like the ones in the pictures he brought back from Karenland in Burma.'

Can you *get* any more Guardian? Bringing up a small adult the gap year way! Of course, there's a slightly knowing tone about all of this, a kind of 'Yes I know it's all a bit poncey!', but Raven, like so many other Guardian writers, doesn't realise quite how ridiculous her own experiences sound to people whose lives have been a bit more normal. Of her childhood, she recalls:

'I was encouraged [by her parents] to say whatever came to mind and was never once upbraided for interrupting. When they told me off for doing it at school, I was shocked. I hadn't meant to be rude - I had simply got used to tuning people out. None of them was important or even remotely relevant, except as sounding boards or signatories for my anti-school petitions.'

Twenty-plus years later, after a bout of less griefsome parenting with baby Anna, she explains that 'to celebrate, I went out and took coke with a childless friend and started planning my comeback.' As you do.

The big question is: who wants to read this sort of thing? That's not to say that Raven or other Guardian think-piece writers don't have valid points to make, but who wants to read them in a form that is essentially a diary entry by self-regarding media luvvies? Especially when the only unique insights they tend to have are rambles about their own privileged upbringings? Please stop, The Guardian. Please stop.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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