One hates to dedicate too much space to the utterly batshit and unfeasibly catty Liz Jones, but some targets are just too large to avoid hitting. Her latest column has already drawn so much adverse comment that Mail Online has taken it off its pages – although you can still turn it up by using the search facility – as Jones decides to dig her claws into Clare Balding for not giving her an interview.
What do you think of it so far?
The headline, “You need more to be a TV role model than bad clothes, Clare” sets the bar low, and Ms Jones soon takes everything yet lower, telling “Like most older women on TV”. Clare Balding will be 42 later this month. Liz Jones is 54. But she’s off and running: “There is a sense of superiority in Balding’s statement: that the rest of us who bother to shop in Prada and have facelifts cannot possibly be as ‘good’ as she is, nor be as nice or as worthy”.
There is nothing resembling “superiority” in anyone telling those who aspire to do the kind of work Ms Balding does that they don’t have to meekly conform, that enthusiasm, drive, and doing one’s homework (not a strong subject for Liz Jones and her pals at the Mail) can provide just as well.
And the impression is given that this is about more than Ms Jones being upset that Clare Balding has been a jockey, and still commentates on horse racing. It’s partly the iron rule that gay people are not the Mail’s Kind Of People and are therefore fair game when it comes to doling out smears, and partly that Ms Balding is popular, and Liz Jones, by her own admission, is anything but.
Indeed, in yet another of her “confessional” articles last week, she asked balefully “Why am I not only divorced, but utterly friendless?” while apparently not appreciating inconvenient facts, such as the likelihood that those she keeps bad mouthing will gradually drift away and find someone marginally less catty to chat and socialise with. That’s not the case with Ms Balding.
Indeed, the Beeb’s most popular Olympic commentator just doesn’t do that kind of thing, as an interview she has given, for Kira Cochrane in the deeply subversive Guardian, shows: Ms Cochrane talks of her subject’s “hearty, gung-ho goodness”. She doesn’t do cattiness and bad mouthing, and as a result is, to no surprise at all, “up to her ears in work”.
Clare Balding even has time to take pity on Ms Jones: “Please don’t turn today into a Liz Jones hatefest” she tells her growing army of Twitter followers. There’s a lesson there, but somehow I suspect that Liz Jones will not be for listening, even as more fashion shows make her persona non grata and she faces an uncertain future, especially if Paul Dacre retires and his replacement sacks her.
But then, being alone should suit Ms Jones. After all, she’s her favourite subject.