Periodically, the hacks labouring in the obedient service of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre direct their ire at those young people who do not fit in with the Mail’s idea of what they should be. Thus last year readers were treated to Dacre’s finest trashing the reputation of schoolboy Rory Weal, because he had committed the cardinal sin of speaking at the Labour conference.
This occasional season of sneering hacks piling into the young has now returned, following the even more sinful behaviour of Elly Nowell, who has not only sent Magdalen College Oxford a mock rejection letter, but has also written a piece for the Guardian. So the word has gone out, and three hacks who have gone to Oxford have heeded the call.
First out of the traps is Tom Utley, who pretends at first to like the sound of Ms Nowell’s approach. He is, of course, disgorging yet more of the by-product from the northbound end of a southbound bull. Because, hardly has the praise stopped than he is denouncing her as “a complete little fool”, that she is “wrong-headed or just plain wrong”, because of “prejudice ... all too widespread among state school pupils”.
But Utley’s snark is comparatively mild when put alongside Lindsay Johns’ effort. Johns tells that Ms Nowell was unsuccessful in her application, although that information is missing from the Guardian piece. Perhaps he is privy to the thoughts of the Magdalen admissions tutor. He sneeringly dismisses her reasons for withdrawing as “yawn”, “yawn, yawn” and “yawn, yawn, yawn”.
And then he puts the boot in: “palpably moronic ... imbecilic ... viciously petty ... facetious”, “tireless and unchallenged defamation”, “constant propagation of ... toxic misinformation”, “pathetic attempts to besmirch them ... sour grapes”, “august centres of learning ... snidely cavilled at and put down ... by peeved, irascible malcontents”, “juvenile and vacuous ejaculations like those of Ms Nowell”.
Just in case we didn’t get the drift of that one, Dominique Jackson has also chipped in. She starts, as does Utley, by being pleasant as she reminisces about her time at Magdalen. But when the time comes for the pay-off, out comes the boot: “19-year old prejudices”, “anyone who cleverly uses such a banal and childish stunt ... already has a brilliant career in public relations and sales promotion beckoning”.
Thus the punishment meted out by the Vagina Monologue for a 19-year old who dares to put her head above the parapet. The potential damage that could be done to the confidence and self-esteem of someone of that age could be significant. For that reason alone, one might have thought that the Mail’s editor and his hacks would cut this young woman some slack. But that is not the Dacre way.
It’s vicious. It’s gratuitous. It’s unnecessary. And it’s not good enough.