Liz Jones: a potential defence.


Throughout my previous job, I frequently resorted to reading the Daily Mail online and its reader’s comments – which to somebody like me, working in an office, actively seeking distractions, became a key feature of survival to me. Whilst I found writing comments a great source of entertainment, reading over people’s opinions was just as enjoyable. One thing that largely seemed to unite the readership I noticed was their hatred of one of their most superficial of the paper’s columnists: chief fashion writer, Liz Jones.

Liz Jones in action.

Liz Jones is to a large extent an intolerable woman. Article after article of hers seemed to purely be based on a glass-completely-empty philosophy. Those words of hers seemed to always be lacking in human sympathy. This is actually precisely how Liz is marketed though, under a column documenting her complaints and problems with twenty-first century English life, mostly through Jones Moans. 90% of these criticisms are ultimately sustained and justified. Whilst Liz is technically an able journalist, she is no less guilty of writing sour bile. And I for one have taken an active disinterest in a large selection of columnists and media personalities, as well as the overall media, for their malicious, unsavory brutality. Acerbic slander is deemed normal and acceptable, and thereafter I really doubt whether I myself would want to work in that particular section of the media.

Yet Liz is also wildly criticised for ‘divulging’ every detail of her life, surely that is in fact what a brilliant journalist does? They reveal real truths though writing, in much the same way that fiction, although not true, is steeped in truth. Liz’s articles of late have been divided, from what I can see, in to three major strands: Jones Moans; her You! magazine articles (largely autobiographical/diary pieces), and articles relating to current affairs.

Part of the reason why I am writing this article is admittedly because I frequently feel sympathy or support towards an ‘underdog,’ someone whose reputation precedes them. Much of the criticism for Liz Jones, as mentioned is on-point, however, my article is basically discussing whether she is an out of touch, talentless, snobbish shrew as the majority of the comments on all her different types of articles seem to state. Knowing that she is unpopular by a degree of popular association, I tend to go against the popular tide and whilst I frequently have my reasons for it, I guess I like to find my own way of giving people credit. I’ll explain this briefly: a personal example of me doing this is when I forged an early ‘alliance’ with the Conservative party, even though at the tender age of 17, I was largely disillusioned already with the concept of politics and the belief that our generation was the one to make a difference. The reason for this ‘alliance’ was because I was in a particular school that was stemmed from solid, moss like, Middle-class routes, yet unsurprisingly, people were going against that grain. I for one thought this was typically artificial, so I went the other way specifically to demonstrate I was neither swayed by popular opinion and, coincidently, as I love to debate the unpopular side of the coin, was happy to continue honing my debating skills.

So whilst this idea – of tracing a light in the darkness of Liz’s articles – was my initial cause for an essay, it was researching her articles that made me think I could penetrate Liz’s tough, emaciated surface. What I really want to know though, after I have demonstrated the most personal and open articles from this truly reviled woman: where does the buck fall with her? And what can people ascertain from her complex, eclectic portfolio?

Certainly a truth I can say about Liz is that I am consciously inspired by a small selection of her articles, namely the articles more likely to be found in You! magazine, but also randomly scattered throughout the Daily Mail. If I myself could pick and choose specifically what I could write about – without the hideous tag, ‘columnist’ – I would have to take a complete leaf of her honesty, from the articles I shall allude to.

But, alternatively, before I praise some of her work, I should also admit that if I were to defend or pity her, I certainly wouldn’t even consider her tidbids of slander and criticism – cloaked by her acidic ‘humour’ because, with this woman, there are indeed tight limits of sympathy, as opposed to condemnation. Before even summarising the mindset of Liz, one can simply not forget her revelation that £150,000 in debt, with an annual six figure salary somehow not slowing her unenviable monetary meltdown, she still managed to have the audacity (pride, stupidity; call it what you will) to reject a buy-one-get-one-free on an £8.95 tube of toothpaste in Boots (yes, I agree – too much money.) Liz cited inconvenience and lack of time, when even the assistant volunteered to assist. A small example but I can’t forget it. To quote:

“But I don’t want two {toothpaste tubes}, I whined, I can’t be bothered to walk back to the aisle and get another. It is that sort of attitude that has proved my downfall.”

The words you could glean from this absurd statement are never-ending. The first time I read it, I remember I felt an overriding fury. Wastage has always bothered me, sometimes I can see why, for example government wastages can stem from good intentions. But reading about Liz Jones jettisoning valuable cash makes is criminally delusional and inappropriate in such an uncertain financial era, no doubt making several readers want to blow their casket at her mindlessness.
Perhaps it was this article that poisoned people against a woman prepared to chastise her barbed tongue long enough to roll out the self-recriminations. Maybe it’s her bizarre attacks on mothers from her own unmitigated bias as a career woman, mother of no children and owner of many pets. As her views on motherhood oddly pervaded several articles (whether they are entirely relevant or not), so does her frankly astronomical views on materialism. Liz is the ultimate consumerist and her chronic superficiality is as sickly as the image of a topless Dick Littlejohn eating a greasy kebab in the Mail’s canteen.

I’ve faulted her, but now I’ll praise her. For these odd and affected rants found in many of her articles, they are replaced by the emotional powerhouses of self-analysis in articles where Liz becomes her own subject. I find these pieces superb to read. But before I get to her best work, I read just last week a largely commendable article about binge drinking in Warrington. Being fifty-something and referring to such a depressing place, Liz probably knows how affected her narrative could become, and wisely takes an objective approach to her interviewees. Well-written, varied and skillfully woven today. Liz also incorporated her own childhood and formative years as a parallel to those teenage girls. Her words:

“Growing up in my home town of Southend, I was known as the ’girl least likely to…’

Painfully shy and unattractive, I never had a boyfriend or attempted to snare one. I didn’t drink at all. In fact, I only had my first glass of alcohol on Millennium Eve at the age of 42. I didn’t lose my virginity until my late 30s.”

Again, I highlighted her because her candor here is exceptionally admirable. A woman whose role is attack others, as journalists do, is opening the book to her own personal challenges in life. It goes without saying that her confessions will be at liberty to be discussed and mocked in the comments section below the article. The comments were largely receptive to the article, yet just this one left me cold:

Good article but I didn’t need to hear about the author’s belated sex life. I nearly left the site after the first paragraph but glad I stuck it out.

This comment received 119 green arrows and was the ninth highest comment. Yes, I obtained it was sarcasm but I felt it was rather unnecessary and cruel none the less, especially as the comment clearly complimented the article.

A few days ago, I read an article that was superb. It was far away from the backdrop of her many shallower pieces and its revelations came faster and more furiously than a Poirot investigation. I had the time to read it and I absorbed every musing like it was the final drop of wine. This article was a touching analysis of her own personal journey into her deeply embedded acute depression. This is just one of a large collection of deeply autobiographical pieces that analyse the great, ongoing facade of her life. A career based on the shallow vanity of high fashion; but unclothed, an all too human account of an English life spent in a 360′ mirror. Now I Know Why I Hate Myself contained just the mere drop of pathos. Like a mirror, the article reflects Liz to its reader, all through Liz’s honesty is succinctly brilliant. One example was from her panic attack:

“We have a long way to go. On the second day, I run out of supplies and head into Keswick. I get lost in the one-way system and all my old symptoms flood back: I can’t see, I can’t hear, I can’t cope. I stop the car and sob. I can’t even get in a car and buy groceries without a panic attack! I’m useless.”

What a sensory attack on the reader, for as those who have experienced panic attacks known, it feels like the mind is rejecting your rationale, your very certainly on life. Liz innovatively absorbs the fear of psychiatry- the reference to Woody Allen need not be an extended allusion because it’s a western connotation of the connotation of psychiatry. But I sidetrack. The real magic of this article is, again, Liz’s candor. Read this example:

“Everything I do is tinged with fear. As a child, my over-protective mum was terrified I would be run over – she was never ambitious for me; she merely wanted me to survive to adulthood.

My dad would pick me up from school discos, well into my late teens. I always assumed I was in imminent danger of being murdered. I developed a habit of conjuring images of disaster in my head.”

When reading this, I was transfixed. Bold, amazingly forthright and incredibly accountable, Liz doesn’t really blame anyone, instead she looks for causes. When I read this article I felt a tinge of my own fear for her. This lonely woman! Just imagine if she read the comments, where people’s malice is drawn and divided like blood slowly being sucked from a human by a mosquito. To sidetrack briefly, these were the comments alone from Liz’s lonely Christmas article. They were divisive enough:

Why not go help out at a homeless shelter for the day and do some good for others, if your not spending money you can also pay off some of that huge debt you have, believe it or not there are others in a much worse position than you this Christmas Who is she kidding?

And: Boo hoo Liz, if you were nice to people you might have some friends and a family who want to spend time with you. It is a sad thought that people are alone at Christmas, but the people I’ll be thinking of, are the socially isolated, without family support, and limited financial means. Go help at a soup kitchen if you have nothing to do except feel sorry for yourself.

But let’s focus now solely on this investigation into psychoanalysis. Many clues are scattered for us to understand why she is the way she is. For example, on not having children:

“I don’t think: ‘Ooh, I’m a good writer, I’m successful.’ I think, hundreds of times a day: ‘I’m rubbish, I’m going to be fired.’

This is one of the reasons I never had children. I never felt confident enough to take maternity leave, or even to rush to the supermarket at lunchtime.”

Yet, the revelation at the end really knocked me out of whack (which I’ll let others read.) It was a magnificently unaffected article, a testament to the powers of honesty and a detached narrative. I was delighted by her final line:

“That night, I drive to see a friend in Richmond, North Yorkshire, and on the way back I run out of petrol. I pull over.

It’s past midnight, I have no idea where I am, my BlackBerry has run out of batteries, but I don’t panic. I don’t cry. After about ten minutes two policemen driving by stop, laugh at my ineptitude and escort me to the petrol station in Penrith.

The night has been an adventure rather than an ordeal. I survive. I am, finally, rescued.”

In many ways, I was delighted by this article. Luckily, if Liz were to read this, I think she’d be satisfied by the second top comment:

Good on you Liz. Childhood can have such a massive impact on how you live the rest of your life. I know myself where you are coming from. It’s not all ‘pick yourself up and dust yourself down and be grateful for what you have’. Sometimes life just isn’t like that. I hope when you get home, you get on your horse and have a fabulously controlled canter, with the sun shining, wind through your (tied back and under hat) hair and a beaming smile on your face ! I hope to be doing the same this Saturday ! Looking forward to your next Sunday column. Xxx

Weeks before thinking about this article, I created a Facebook page ‘liking’ Liz Jones. This was around the time she wrote several amusing articles (for the wrong reasons) with ludicrous outcomes (the Harrods make up debacle, the exmoor files – where she insulted all her neighbours, and virtually all of Joans Moans). My intention was to attract people through mocking her work as demonstrated by my descriptions of the lady herself.

The ‘biography’: The funniest columnist of our modern age. Her articles define sensationalism. Highlights include her biographical pieces of her car-crash life.

The ‘awards’: The second biggest bitch at the DM, after Melanie Phillips. Amanda Platell and Jan Moir a joint close third.

The personal interests: Bitchin’, surgery, vanity, moaning, catwalk shows, telling people that everyone should go to catwalk shows ‘because they’re really great’ etc.

 Phone: She probably doesn’t need one.

And the general description on the page: Liz Jones is the QUEEN of appalling journalism. Her recent articles include her facelift and her breast reduction. Other successful articles include her weekly columns, Jones Moans, which is a series of things this middle-aged snob hates and her biographical pieces about her complicated love life, bankruptcy and feelings of loneliness.

Yet people still ignored these comments. One even quoted my biography and said:

Whoever wrote this line in the info section is on drugs. Liz Jones is truly appalling talentless ‘writer’.

My personal advice to Liz if she were ever to read this article is easy. A woman who attracts such hatred does so because she goes out of her way to be ‘funny, outrageous and downright rude,’ clearly Liz is deemed not funny or jovial enough to earn these glowing attributes. However, she can be funny if she were less obsessed with insulting men, women, mothers and children, as well as being less materialistic, miserly and more maternal. Were Liz to embrace the honesty and delicacy that she brings to her own autobiographical pieces, she could gain the trust and respect of the British people. Now that’d be a first. Perhaps I’m pushing for too though, what does everyone think?

Further reading: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1268750/LIZ-JONES-Now-I-know-I-hate—Intense-therapy-discovered-dark-secret-past.html

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7 thoughts on “Liz Jones: a potential defence.

  1. I don’t even know the way I ended up right here, however I believed this post was great. I don’t realize who you’re but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger in the event you are not already. Cheers!

  2. I imagine the reason people ignore the bits that you consider admirable candor, is that it is Liz’s long time pattern to boast in her columns about being horribly arrogant, unlikeable and rude; and then to deny responsibility for her own actions by revealing some ‘poor little me, I have such low self-esteem, I was anorexic, I have scarred breasts, I love animals etc etc’ tidbit to her readers. However these ‘moments of candor’ have become repetitive both in content and timing, so many of those who once felt some sympathy for her now simply feel manipulated whenever she trots them out.

  3. It’s quite simple really, either she is the fragile, damaged, insecure person you seem to think she is, or she is the snobbish, self important person she often presents her self as being, those who write negative comments are invariably doing so pointing out that her selfishness, lack of social responsibility and irresponsibility are her downfall. Treating fellow human beings as ” underlings” , running up huge debts and having scant regard for the lives of those around her ( mother, sisters etc) these personality traits do not endear her to her readers. She presents herself as an animal lover but with no real responsibility for her pack of assorted creatures, she pays lip service to her role as career but with no real understanding of what’s truely involved. If she finds herself the butt of barbed comments she is either attracting them on purpose , stirring controversy as a writer which she may see as her USP or she is presenting her true self and it’s not a pretty picture.

  4. I love Liz’s writing for all the reasons you state. I see her personal diary as an art form most weeks, although not all. Should she censor her less charitable musings? Life would be much easier for her if she did but the point is that she expresses her real responses in her writing. The fact that its a diary explains the inconsistencies many commentators complain about. We are all inconsistent in our thoughts and feelings. The difference is that we do not share what we really think with the world. Frequently I think that I am happy no one can read my mind. Liz reads her own mind and puts it out there.

  5. I used to find her interesting and felt incredibly sorry for her. However recently it’s her (written) unkindness to people who have no come back which really put me off her – for instance her ranting at a poor GP receptionist who wouldn’t just fit her in that day for inoculations even though (a) she wasn’t registered with the practice, (b) they didn’t stock all the vaccines she needed, (c) they weren’t prepared to bump another patient out of their appointment for her, (d) she didn’t feel they needed to know her medical history (any responsible GP surgery would need to know her medical history before vaccinating), (e) she’d known weeks in advance she needed the vaccinations to go abroad (Somalia?) but left it to the last minute before throwing a real toddler tantrum in the waiting room. Then reporting it back in her column as if she was the one being victimised. I’d be interested in knowing other view points on that particular situation because I really can’t feel sympathy for her about it.

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