Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Gossip - don't cha just love it?

I like gossip – showbiz, political, personal, whatever – as much as the next person. However, it is well to never forget the tittle-tattle is probably wrong in at least one aspect, perhaps in total.
There’s fun to be had by applying one’s intelligence in distinguishing the fire from the smoke and assessing why the real story may have been distorted. Purveyors of gossip often have their own agendas.
When I was a working financial journalist the satirical magazine Private Eye was required reading. It appeared to have the inside track on many media and City reports. My one caveat was that in any of its stories where I knew some of the background, there would be at least one fundamental error. This didn’t make the gossip completely inaccurate but it was cause for caution. The point where the truth wobbled often ended up as crucial to the outcome of any particular story.
Since launching my blog (by the way this is my 100th post) I was in danger of forgetting this lesson as I spread my own surfing net.
Online Hollywood columnist Perez Hilton, for example, became a regular read. Bitchy equals amusing especially when you are not familiar with most of the targets.
The question of accuracy only entered the equation after he lambasted Lily Allen last week claiming her tears were booze-induced when she was in Hamburg watching Fulham lose narrowly in a European cup final.
It is well known the Allen family are big fans of the soccer club. Lily was at the game with her grandfather and her upset was plainly genuine.
Whatever Perez Hilton’s motives in suggesting otherwise, I don’t need to drop by his website any more now that the honesty of his conclusions are suspect.
All of which reminds me that recently I was in a restaurant with an old chum swapping stories of outlandish behaviour by journalists of yesteryear.
“When it comes to it,” he said refilling our wine glasses, “I have to go a long way to beat your story about your suit and the bath.”
I was at a loss to know what he meant – my behaviour has been boringly unremarkable in over 30 years in national newspapers.
“You know,” he insisted, “when you got drunk on your first overnight as a young reporter.”
I had told him the story many years earlier. I had passed out in my hotel bedroom after being violently ill and on awakening I couldn’t find my suit. Eventually I found it neatly laid out in the en-suite bath. There must have been a part of my brain still functioning that said I should take care of my clothes ahead of the next morning’s press visit.
“That’s the one,” my companion roared. “Just as well you brought another suit.”
No, I quietly explained, there was no water in the bath.
“God,” he exclaimed visibly shaken, “I’ve retold that story a hundred times over the years and there’s been water in the bath. It always got a big laugh.”
This modest example hardly bares examination in the light of the famous quote from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – “when the legend becomes fact, print the legend” – but it does illustrate the delight we take in others foibles. This is about as good an explanation of the hunger for gossip as you can get.

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? GC