To be honest, I've never been an avid Tatler reader. Which isn't to say I have anything against the publication as a whole – Lord knows someone's got to inform Count Nikolai Von Bismarck which members bar has the best dry-ice bidet, or the most servile door staff. Recently, though, the moneyed Marie Claire came to my attention via a tragic fuck-up involving some poor member of staff, an unforgiving revolving door and a once-prized and now dead dachshund. In retrospect, that whole ordeal sounds like the biggest nightmare of all time, and I feel pretty bad for everyone involved.
Still, they represent a world I've never really dipped into, so I turned to their website to find out more about the publication. Among columns with (pretty promising) names like "Hugo Rifkind's Lies to Tell Lefties" and lots of pieces about the children of 80s pop stars, I came across The Tatler List.
For those of you who went to state school, The Tatler List is basically the NME Cool List for people whose horses studied at the Sorbonne and briefly dated Tara Palmer Thomplethorp. Billed as a run-down of "The People Who Really Matter", it's completely, totally, batshit crazy. Have you ever seen it? This is the first year I've been aware of it and it's freaking me out. NO PART OF MY BRAIN CAN WORK OUT WHAT THIS LIST IS TRYING TO SAY ABOUT THE PLANET OR ANY OF THE PEOPLE WITHIN IT.
This year's list features Clare Balding at number eight, outstripping The Queen, who's at 17. Marcus Mumford is in at five, David Mitchell sits above Prince William, Sienna Miller (12) is sandwiched between Hugh Laurie (11) and the Archbishop of Canterbury, and at numbers 62 and 63, you get the truly surreal coupling of Mario Balotelli and Ben Goldsmith.
The thing is, these aren't even the weirdest things about it. I mean, it's 568 people long. What kind of list is 568 people long? It's as if the whole thing has been put together by senile aristocrats and their drunken hunting dogs from the shredded guestlists of midnight mass at the Alpha Theological Centre and the X Factor final afterparty at Mahiki.
Here are a few of the things that are really confusing me about it.
IT'S FULL OF PEOPLE YOU'VE NEVER HEARD OF
The world famous Galen Weston, in case you were wondering. Photo by Jason Paris.
Dear Cressida Bonas (27), Galen Weston (19), Tallulah Harlech (110), Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst (123), Lord Elcho (84), and Ed Spencer-Churchill (254), who are you? Are you all in Alt-J? Whoever you are, I'm sure you must own a fuck load of Gloucestershire between you. Though the feudal system was replaced by democracy quite a while back now, so perhaps in 2013 the only real power you wield is an ability to gain access to the upstairs coke room at Tramp. Can you get me in, please? I don't know who you are, you don't know who I am, we've already got so much in common.
ROMEO BECKHAM IS AT NUMBER ONE
Now I'm not a total moron. I understand that when a magazine makes a big list, sometimes they want it to make a splash, so they stick something totally left field at the number one spot. And why not? It's a list and lists are inherently stupid. That said… wtf?
CARA DELEVINGNE'S PARENTS RANK HIGHER THAN CARA DELEVINGNE
Photo by Jake Lewis.
At first you think this is some kind of societal ageism. A reminder that while Cara (136) might be getting the Prada campaigns and nights out with Rihanna, it's her 'rents who really command people's respect. They brought her into this world and they can cancel her inheritance, too. But then you remember that Romeo Beckham is at number one and that mirage of logic you thought you'd stumbled across in this Mojave of bullshit begins to fade.
Her parents might be rich, but famous (unless you read Tatler) they are not. Her mum (15) is a personal shopper and her dad (16) is a property baron who's described as being "totally sunshiney" (in a "the sun never sets on the British Empire" kind of way, presumably).
LOUISE HAZEL IS HIGHER THAN JESSICA ENNIS
No disrespect to Louise Hazel; I'm sure she's a lovely girl, a great athlete and indeed – as Tatler informs us – "makes a delicious apple tart". She even won gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games – good job, Louise, but it's 2013 now. Jessica Ennis won gold at last year's London Olympics and has become a national hero, whereas I'm guessing that very few people in Britain would recognise young Louise in the street: maybe some track and field athletes, John Inverdale and (apparently) the staff of Tatler.
Yet she's at number 40 in this list. I can only assume that it was her baking skills and "serious collection of shoes" that won her the spot. Clearly Ennis's paltry rack of Reebok Classics and pathetic inability to make a cherry bakewell without the middle collapsing must have cost her a place in this illustrious 568.
THE WEIRD SYMBOLS
The Tatler List operates in the traditional Top Trumps format, in which your various skills are quantified and tallied up. These skills are represented by a series of symbols (the things beneath the blurb). Some of them are fairly easy to decipher – the wallet means they're rich, the mirror means they're attractive, etc. But then you look along a couple more and there's a picture of a seal. I have no idea what it means, but click it to bring up a list of all the people who are "seals" and you're thrust into some kind of perplexing, connect-the-dots puzzle of ill-logic, in which you have to decipher what it could possibly be that unites Clare Balding (8), Mick Jagger (29) and Idris Elba (51).
Then there's another symbol which is a school crest that signifies a category called "totes rah". Surely this is about posh "It schools" or whatever? Surely we'll find Chelsy Davy (4) and others like her in this category? Wrong. What you have instead is Prince William's dog (205) and Cherish, the Tatler Diamond Jubilee Corgi (240). I repeat: two dogs. What the fuck is wrong with rich people?
WHO THE FUCK WROTE IT?
Honestly, what the hell is going on here?
Dolly Alderton, a journalist of some description (50)
"Writer Dolly has the height and eyelashes of a giraffe, is obsessed with Edie Sedgwick and will talk to you into the small hours. Fancies Bill Nighy."
Which is fine and everything, but… Well, so what? That could be anyone.
Mario Balotelli, a football player who's been outscored by Reading's Adam Le Fondre this season (62)
"Italian footballer once described as 'unmanageable' – we'll take that as a challenge. Mario is Greater Manchester's ambassador for firework safety (!) and drives a white Bentley. Cor."
To be fair, at least Mario is charismatic, talented and has achieved remarkable things despite a tough upbringing. Unlike, say…
Scarlett Strutt, a socialite with a stripper's name who must have dictated this to some poor intern (32)
"Scar, as all her friends call her, is a PA, one of the prettiest and most popular girls in London and is the ex-girlfriend of Isaac Ferry. She went to Bryanston and lives in Battersea, but spends at least a month every year in Goa, wears clothes filched from her childhood dressing-up box and is a fan of Boris Johnson."
Lily Collins, Phil's daughter (28)
"Despite debuting into society at the Crillon Ball, hers are simple pleasures; she likes Blackadder, scanning the aisles of organic food stores, running to Lady Gaga on her iPod and turning off her phone for a few moments each day."
Be honest, have you ever read a less remarkable list of achievements than that? There are stillborn babies with better anecdotes.
Big Ben, with fans. Photo by Martin Alvarez.
Just when you thought the list couldn't get any weirder, you spot somebody named "Big Ben" at number 22. You click through to find this:
"Ben lives inside Elizabeth Tower, which used to be called the Clock Tower of Westminster (who knew Ben was just the bell and not the whole building?) but has had a name change to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Anyway, Ben is very hardworking and despite being really quite old (it's his 153rd birthday this year) he still twangs every hour, on the hour, every day. Although he's a complete gentleman (never complains about actors and the like invading his space), he's slightly concerned people will forget about him now that everyone's talking about Elizabeth Tower. Because, he's part of the tower but, like, totally his own man. He's Ben. Lives in Elizabeth but has his own identity, got it? Good."
This is a world famous magazine, but it reads like one of those strange Geocities sites people used to set up about their dog. Also, if you're reading Tatler and you don't know that Big Ben is the bell, not the clock, you need to sort your shit out. Your parents didn't spend the Olympic opening ceremony budget on your education so you could be shocked by the conversational factoids of a 12-year-old visiting London tourist hotspots for the first time.
ROSE ADKINS – WHO'S ON THE LIST – IS GENUINELY LESS FAMOUS THAN ME
"Who is Rose Adkins? Why is she at number 48?" I hear you crying. Well, for those of you who've clearly been dead to the world for the last decade, Tatler has a handy summary of her achievements:
"American-born Rose has turned her back on figure-skating and playing in a symphony orchestra to set up a business. But she still plays polo. Lives in Chelsea and spends her evenings at Loulou's."
At time of going to press, Rose Adkins has only two more Twitter followers than her placing in this list of the most influential people in Britain. I know it's not about that, but still, there're people from my GCSE Maths class with more followers than that. I mean, who cares, right… BUT WHAT IS THIS LIST BASED ON? It's driving me mad.
THIS TAB AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE
No, obviously I'm not on it. You're not on it either. But clearly a sizeable enough portion of Tatler's readership is elite enough to believe that they might have at least an outside shot of making the list. Which is mad, because that would be like VICE.com having a section at the top of the page saying, "Were you at Henry Langston, our news editor's birthday party? If so, did you pick up my jacket?"
Tatler, it seems, is Facebook for the elites.
Follow Clive (@thugclive) on Twitter.
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