Part time bastard: Writing for the enemy
I recently lost half my job at a left-wing paper. I wasn't bitter. I just started writing for a right-wing newspaper in my spare time. At first I was like, Ha, fuck you, irony. I'm like a double agent or one of the C-Five who snuck into Cambridge University and rose to high levels in various parts of the civil service. Except I’m not doing PPE, I'm writing about why motherhood is more important than feet and sunlight. I thought perhaps I could subvert capitalism from the inside, introduce readers to a little tacit left-wing chutzpah. That was bullshit though.
They smelled my peachy youth and wooed me with money and now I’ve had more words published in the last two months than in two years at the left-wing paper. The money is really, really good too. And you know what, I don’t think Polish builders are so shit-hot, and middle England is pretty agreeable.
So far I’ve written about some really dumb stuff, like how fashionable politicians are. Which was weird because in most democracies that's actually negative equity. They loved that. I also wrote a trend piece about chubby people. That was their idea. They liked it but had to change the phrase "big-boned" to "fat" because that's house style.
Then I wrote something about strong black women (like that’s news or something). Except Naomi Campbell was ousted from the piece. I asked why. These guys love capitalism and writing about rape, yet conversely love all babies, so why not keep her – an alleged product of rape – in it? That's a paraphrased version of our exchange, but that was enough of an argument to get Naomi's name back on the list.
To sound authoritative, I have to get big cheese editors or fashion people to back up my argument. This is harder at this paper because I've realised bright people don't want to be quoted in here. The woman from Storm Models didn't reply to my three emails. And the fashion editor at a big glossy bounced back one of my emails with a fake "out of office" reply. I know it was fake because I saw her at the launch of a new face cream when her PA told me she was in Majorca.
The paper’s real wedge comes from their main columnist, who is a brilliant read. Totally doesn't give a fuck about her dignity or anyone else's, yet varies her demographic like a strychnine potato gun. Which is really brave. We share the same page. She married a teenager, wrote about their divorce and did it all in the name of journalism. What a pro.
There are some highs. I like the online comment section. I thought, like Marie Claire, there was censorship so their comments would be badly written, sycophantic versions of my point. But there is no filter and they write freely. One enterprising reader described Adele with an emoticon. Another suggested I get some perspective. My fave comment so far is "fat women aren’t normal".
You're probably wondering why I write for this paper. I'd like to say it's not my fault. This is a bit true. I’m no art director but there’s something magic-eye about their layouts and when you see your byline in bigger-than-bollocks font you think, Hey, this isn’t so bad. I'd also like to say there's a little bit of right in all of us but in truth I feel a bit like Rosemary's husband playing orgy with the devil and sick to the core. I mean, I'm a little bit foreign myself so there's actually nothing ironic about it whatsoever.