Editor who loves the N-word*


*N for niggling, that is. . .

YES, THEY’RE JOYFULLY IN LOVE… so why do I have a niggling worry about this engagement picture? niggled naughty Sarah Vine across the front page of the Daily Mail.

Well here’s the thing, Sarah. I’ve skimmed your piece about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle online and, to be honest, I’m not sure. I guess it’s because niggling worry is what gets you out of bed in the morning. If you didn’t have niggling worry, you wouldn’t have anything to write about.

For all I know, you are probably contractually obliged to be beset by niggles every single day. Also, if you’d said, “they’re joyfully in love and I’m so happy for them”, it would have fallen a bit flat with your editor and he wouldn’t have put you on the front page. He doesn’t want happiness; he wants niggles and nastiness. Niggles are nastiness are what get him up early in the morning or keep him up late at night or whatever. To be honest, I have little interest in the motivations of the Daily Mail’s editor.

But my niggling worry this morning was what to write about. Then up you pop with your crawly yet still sufficiently sniping column. Well done, by the way, for managing to combine those two moods: a few gushing paragraphs, leading to the “and yet” niggle at the centre of your word maze.

What worries Sarah, in so far as I can discern, is that arty Alexi Lubomirski‘s official engagement photos that were splashed all over her own and  other newspapers were a bit too artful; too much knowing ‘Markle sparkle’, as it were.

Also, they were taken by “a brilliant celebrity photographer” which risks, “turning a monarchy that has endured for centuries into a soap opera. And soap operas, as we know, are alarmingly subject to whim and fashion”.

To this half-arsed republican, what these photographs show is the royals cleverly adapting again and snagging, with brilliant ease, the affections of the credulous British public. These photographs, rather charming if you like that sort of thing, are just the latest efforts of the royals to ensure their soap opera continues its long run.

Something else niggled me in the papers that day: over at the Sun, the headline “BACK AND BLUE” ran above a smaller headline rejoicing “Return of Great British passport.”

The government says it is going to replace the burgundy European passport with the old-style blue one ‘to restore sovereignty after Brexit’, or some such pompous nonsense.

I only received my new burgundy passport two or three months ago so I’m good for ten years, and perfectly happy to carry a European passport.

The blue passports will be reintroduced gradually as the burgundy ones run out. It’s pointless really, isn’t it? A bit of emblematic tinkering, silly chest-beating in front of a liver-spotted old mirror. If the best thing about Brexit is going to be carrying an old-fashioned blue passport, I can restrain my excitement for a while yet.

But some people are happy. Former Ukip leader and all-round irritant Nigel Farage greeted the news with the words: “Happy Brexmas!” Dear me, the man even talks in Sun headlines.

Sorry, Nigel, but I’m with Labour MP Mary Creagh who tweeted: “No one under 45 will have owned a blue passport, and most will think they’re not worth £50 billion and crashing the economy.”

Incidentally, I met Mary once when she was campaigning outside Wakefield station, and she seemed as sensible as she was pleasant.

Sorry, Ed: I know that won’t do for the column, but how can I inject a niggling worry into that memory?


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