I’m struggling to avoid writing about the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand affair, but it has to be said that the Daily Mail really do take the biscuit on this one. In it, Georgina Baillie calls for Brand and Ross to be sacked for leaving her grandfather ‘utterly horrified and disgusted’ after ringing him up and claiming that Brand has slept with her. Of course, it happens to be true and the Mail see fit to print several pictures of Andrew Sachs’ granddaughter which might conceivably also ‘horrify’ and ‘disgust’ him, but sod that – BURN THE WITCHES!
To be fair though, that story is being printed in most tabloids today. It is to another story we must turn if we want to really uncover the dark heart of Dacre. Today the Mail also prints a story about teachers having sexual relationships with their pupils. Under the headline “Dear Sir, I really thought you loved me…,” it includes several soft focus pictures of girls in school uniforms and paragraphs like this one:
Awkwardly, 14-year-old Laura Walker sat down on the log, among the dark trees, her thigh just brushing against that of her 32-year-old teacher, Steven Edwards.
‘I had butterflies inside my tummy,’ she says. ‘I knew what was coming.’
The mature man bent his head and kissed the young teenager – ‘snogged’ is the word she uses.
‘I was so excited,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t believe that he was interested in me, but he was clearly showing that he was. The kiss was very passionate.’
Do we really need this level of detail and flowery prose in an article which is supposed to be about exposing child abuse? This isn’t the first time I’ve read stories in the Mail which are ostensibly censorious but appear more than a little salacious. I recall reading an article about an actress a couple of years ago who was apparently raising her child with a gay man which went into an inordinate amount of detail about her physical characteristics and naked frollicking.
But the killer, for me, is the change in tone when the story examines the case of a female teacher sleeping with a male pupil:
Looking at Dean Dainty – a normal, spiky-haired, slightly scruffy schoolboy – you wonder how any grown woman could think it appropriate to view him as a sexual being.
The relationship began when Dean was 15 and the teacher gave him a mobile phone ‘for doing so well in her class’.
On it, he found her own personal mobile number, and they began texting each other. The texts quickly became sexual. No doubt the schoolboy could not believe that this pretty, blonde teacher might be interested in him.
‘We arranged to meet up, and she swore me to secrecy,’ he says.
He went to after-school break-dancing sessions with her, and she took him into a pub.
The affair was clandestine, with the pair – Dean was by now 16 – snatching sex wherever they felt they would not get caught.
Where are the references to his thighs? Or the talk about how ‘passionate’ their kisses were?
This ambiguous attitude towards paedophilia is of course nothing new in the Mail – it was one of the things that Chris Morris’ Brass Eye Special a few years ago both parodied and highlighted in its immediate aftermath. But we should never forget that these self-appointed guardians of moral virtue are uncomfortably close in attitude to the very people they claim to be condemning.