Fantastic Headlines 29 and 30: Pearls from the Tabloids

January 20, 2011

I have a thesis to write, but the urge to blog. I’m sure those two facts are related. Any excuse for procrastination, eh? Still, I don’t really have the time to be cranking out long blog posts: it’s much easier just to print silly pictures of what the tabloids are saying. With that in mind, here are two Fantastic Headlines published this very week.

I have mentioned before in this series about the “banality of fantasticness”. On Twitter, the Spectator’s Alex Massie posted this Daily Express front page, which may well be the most fantastically banal front page of all time.

The second headline in our “silly tabloids week” comes from the amazing, talented, beautiful… (etc etc) RedHeadFashionista, who is a fellow connoissour of rubbish printed in Britain’s newspapers:

Please send all answers on a postcard to the Daily Mail, London, England, Europe, Earth, The Solar System.

As ever, if you find any more Fantastic Headlines then please let me know by carrier pigeon, or even leave one in the comments boxes if you’re feeling very adventurous.

Fantastic Headlines, no 6

July 20, 2010

The best headlines implore you, almost force you, to read the story beneath them. Sometimes the best way to do that in the headline is to summarise the whole article and, in the words of Trevor Chaplin in The Beiderbecke Affair, “make up something so completely weird he’s bound to believe it”. Without further ado, here’s the creation of an inspired subeditor at the Daily Mail:

“Police probe hotel sting after secret camera falls off ceiling in room where Cameron cutie had tryst”

Absolutely brilliant. As with many headlines, the lack of punctuation adds to the absurdity of it all. It’s as though someone has breathlessly ran into the room and frantically described what’s just happened.

So, fantastic headline. Shame about the story. According to Private Eye it’s a very large Consignment of Geriatric Shoe Manufacturers:

The tale of Special Branch watching Nokes and Dinsdale in flagrante is diversionary nonsense, dreamed up by Tory spin-doctor Andy Coulson to switch the focus from the hypocrisy of “Nooky” Nokes – signatory to a Christian declaration against extramarital sex – to the sleaziness of redtops, a subject on which he has some expertise.

So there you are – a fantastic headline and a glimpse into Andy Coulson’s spin machine, all in the same blog post. And they say men can’t multitask.

Fantastic headlines: nos 2, 3 and 4

July 10, 2010

This occasional series is intended to collect fantastic headlines from wherever they come. I’ll mainly be concentrating on contemporary headlines, but for the second post in the series I thought I’d post a few of my favourites from the past year.

Many things can make a headline fantastic. The previous one had a wonderful juxtaposition – who expects to see George Galloway and Dusty Springfield in the same sentence? It’s similar with this headline from the Mail last year:

“Former French President Chirac hospitalised after mauling by his clinically depressed poodle”

It’s the addition that the poodle is “clinically depressed” that always tickles me.

Next is this one, which does not have great wordplay but I am sure you can appreciate its majesty:

Courtesy of Fleet Street Blues.

One my housemates said, “why doesn’t Ed Balls change his name to Ed Ball? Ed Ball sounds fine. Ed Balls……no!” It can lead to some cracking headlines, like this gem from Left Foot Forward:

“Abbott supports AV but blasts Balls”.

Apologies to those of you who are now experiencing disturbing mental images as a result of that headline.

If you have any examples of Fantastic Headlines, past and present, please let me know. In the comments, twitter, e-mail, whatever. I don’t mind which.

Daily Mail in baseless attack shocker

July 5, 2010

The Daily Mail, and Mail on Sunday, seem to be going after John Bercow. The charge? He lets his nanny live rent-free at his house.

Yes, it really is that trivial. I’ve never had a nanny – I don’t come from that sort of social background – but I’m sure many nannys do live rent-free at their employers homes. Being the conscientious chap I am, I even did some research on nannys. I wonder what Wikipedia says about their living arrangements?

Perks of the job may include a nanny flat.

That clears that up then.

There are three reasons why the Mail seems to be gunning at John Bercow:

1) Bercow is a Tory, but was elected speaker with overwhelmingly Labour support.  A small group of Tory MPs even tried to remove him as speaker soon after the coalition had formed. Being this closely involved with Labour obviously makes Bercow an Agent Of Satan in the Mail’s eyes, and therefore deserving of an attack.

2) John Bercow’s wife, Sally, is not only a Labour activist (shock!) but also stood as a Labour councillor in May (HORROR!). She is therefore very actively carrying out the Devil’s Work, and fair game as a result.

3) Sally Bercow also happens to be very good-looking. Therefore, whenever the Mail publish a story about John or Sally Bercow, they can illustrate it with a HUGE picture of Sally. Like this one:

Any excuse to publish pictures of attractive women is a good excuse, as far as the Mail is concerned.

All of these three factors adds up to a perfect storm – the perfect Mail story. All that’s needed is some entirely spurious rubbish about their household arrangements, and bingo!

Because if you wanted to attack Bercow, it doesn’t matter how he arranges his house. Say he had charged the nanny rent. Presumably the story would look something like this:

“Despite earning £146,000 a year Commons Speaker John Bercow has CHARGED his nanny, who only earns £10,000* a year, several thousands pounds to live in his grace and favour mansion; imply he’s a skinflint bastard who hates the ordinary working people, it’s a publicly funded building how dare he charge rent, etc etc”
* I have no idea how much the nanny earns, I use this merely as an example.

So John Bercow could be damned whatever he does. We should just accept this is a non-story, a smear job by the Mail, and move on.

Except there’s another issue at the bottom of the article I want to highlight. Nadine Dorries has piped up:

It leaves the Speaker open to criticism and, frankly, given the choppy waters the Speaker is about to be called upon to steer Parliament through, that is the last thing he needs.

He really needs to advise his wife to close down her Twitter account.

Nadine Dorries doesn’t seem to understand that a wife can have a different opinion to her husband. I don’t agree with the view Dorries has, but she is perfectly entitled to them, no matter what her husband thinks. Presumably the same is true of Sally Bercow.


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