Just A Buffet

I’m DJ-ing at a new club called Decline and Fall this Friday 10th. It’s hosted by the elegant burlesque artiste Vicky Butterfly and takes place at the Albert & Pearl in Upper Street, which I’m told is a suitably opulent venue:



So. I’ve left the news clippings night shift job in order to concentrate on writing jobs like the ‘Forever England’ book. On my last night at the office, many colleagues who normally dressed down gave me a surprise send-off. They came to work wearing suits, or shirts and ties, or evening dresses and high heels. On top of which I was given a lovely leaving card, boxes of Fortnum & Mason fudge and shortbread, a notebook and a luxury ballpoint engraved with my name. I was so touched.

The secret Dress Up for Dickon Day was the chief delight. If that’s what people think of me – that I like to be surrounded by the dressed-up – well, they’re absolutely right. Just as well I am me, really.


Now. There’s been an awful amount of Silly Tosh written about Mr Jackson since his untimely death, and frankly I don’t see why I should be any different.

His music has been ubiquitous in London’s coffee shops, cafes and bars ever since, which actually I don’t mind too much. I didn’t realise until now that I do slightly like the Eddie Van Halen guitar solo which occurs halfway through  ‘Beat It’. And then there’s those rather startling lyrics to ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something’, which straddle the awful-brilliant axis:

You’re a vegetable (you’re a vegetable)
You’re just a buffet (you’re a vegetable)

Indeed. Just, as the man said, a buffet. And people have been helping themselves to that particular buffet even since he departed to that great Moonwalk dancefloor in the sky. Which I guess means… the Moon. (Shall I stop this now? I’m so sorry, I have to tickle myself back to the diary after a fallow period. Silliness is as good a way as any).

I’ll never forget where I was when I heard the news. I was reading the news. No, I really was. Thursday June 25th was my last night at the news clippings job. It was fun watching the BBC site hold onto those get-out-of-jail-free quotation marks in its main headline for as long as possible. They went from ‘Michael Jackson “rushed to hospital”‘ to ‘Michael Jackson ‘is dead'”, the sub heading carefully adding ‘according to reports’. By which they meant, ‘Some news sources are saying Michael Jackson is dead, but frankly they’re all American ones, or Sky, and we’re the BBC, damn it! We won’t take the quote marks away until Jeremy Paxman has personally walked into the hospital and checked his pulse.’

The news broke too late for most of the morning newspapers, which led with the story of BBC executives’ expenses. One morning paper with a late enough press time took advantage and splashed the Jackson story all over its cover. That it was City AM, the London-only financial daily which normally wouldn’t touch showbiz stories with a hedge fund bargepole, didn’t stop it one iota.

The days of news media saying ‘that’s enough, let’s move on to other events’ are long gone. The phrase ‘And in other news’ is still used – but only just, and never soon enough. The proliferation – 24 hour channels in particular -  should in theory mean more diversity in news. It would have been nice to see a little of all that extra time used for more coverage of, say, the passing of Sky Saxon and Steven Wells. Just because they’re less well-known shouldn’t mean they receive less coverage; on the contrary, because they’re lesser known they should get more attention. I suppose I naively want a kind of Robin Hood approach to media attention. Or just a little less reheating of the one buffet.

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