Stewart Lee on Boris Johnson and WH Smith
It is very easy to sneer and criticise without offering any viable solutions yourself. And I should know. I have been doing it for the best part of three decades now myself, across a variety of media, to deadlines, for money, like a snowflake Clarkson. But I am a shallow and cynical entertainer, not a politician who is supposed to believe in anything. And so, I suspect, when all is said and done, is Boris Piccaninny Watermelon Letterbox Johnson. And why not? It worked for Donald Trump.
Each morning in the small hours, Donald Trump’s bladder slowly fills with urine. The president wakes and looks at his phone in the bathroom while fumbling in his silken sleeping pants for the flesh pyracantha of his genital. He sees something true online and instantly sends off a combative Tweet. Sad! Bleary journalists panic and the fairy tinkling of Donald Trump’s cold night penis dominates the daily American news cycle once more.
Boris Piccaninny Watermelon Letterbox Johnson obviously aims to surf the British news wave in a similar fashion to the orange goblin. But unlike the instantaneous nocturnal pee pee spatterings of Trump, the massive faecal log of Watermelon’s weekly column in the Daily Telegraph takes a full seven days to bake.
Straining his handbag-pug face into a purple Eton mess each Monday morning, Watermelon temporarily blocks the U-bend of the British news bog with his latest stinking offering, before standing next to the bowl, and gesturing at his produce, like a delighted toddler expecting parental praise for his mastery of basic bowel functions.
The Daily Telegraph clickbait trap is set, Watermelon its mouse-murdering cheese, and the paper’s frontpage news headlines duly retrumpet the controversy that the falsehoods of the Boris Piccaninny Watermelon Letterbox Johnson column its own editor chose to run inside have ignited, in an endless loop of lies.
In the 1997 James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, the state-sponsored assassin-rapist 007 thwarts an evil global multi-platform news agency that uses covert actions to generate newsworthy crises, which it then profits from covering. Twenty-one years ago, this plotline seemed as implausible as Roger Moore’s third nipple. But it now appears to be the actual modus operandi of the Daily Telegraph.
And who can blame the paper for paying Watermelon £275,000 a year to disseminate lies, to drive the sewage of its readership through the sluice gates of both its print and online editions. These are tough times for newspapers, and before the Daily Telegraph re-employed Watermelon as a lifeline it was pinning all its sales hopes on our humble friend… water.
For years, it seemed, whenever I tried to buy a bottle of water in a railway station WH Smith, the cashier would suggest I bought a copy of the Daily Telegraph instead, which cost less than the water and came with free water. But taking the free water while buying a copy of the Daily Telegraph increases the apparent circulation figures of the Daily Telegraph, and by association its financial clout, and its power to influence and manipulate the vermin that read it.
As someone who has suffered personally as a result of the Daily Telegraph’s half-truths, I always insisted on paying for the water and not taking the Daily Telegraph with the free water gift instead. Even though, as the confused WH Smith assistant always insisted, as if reciting a script she was forced to learn at gunpoint by Charles Moore, buying the Daily Telegraph and getting the water free was less costly than buying the water alone and not having the Daily Telegraph with it.
When I finally cracked and demanded, at Paddington’s WH Smith in October 2016, to take only the water and not the Daily Telegraph also, the poor assistant, an innocent victim here too, let’s not forget, had to call her manager over. She explained to him that she had tried to sell me the Daily Telegraph, as instructed, but that I would only take the water, as he looked on disapprovingly, an unwanted copy of the Daily Telegraph flapping on the counter, like a dying and poisonous fish.
It was a Kafkaesque situation. Much of what I write in these columns is exaggerated for comic effect (I am not, for example, a confidante of a Danish man who supplies 85% of the semen imported into Britain, as I claimed last week), but this went down just as described. The frightened young girl was eventually absolved by the manager and I was allowed to refuse my compulsory Daily Telegraph purchase. But surely a world where innocent children are forced to buy the Daily Telegraph, when all they wanted was water, is exactly the kind of authoritarian, antiindividual society the libertarian think-monkeys of the Daily Telegraph don’t want? Take back control!
Tragically, the unsustainable mania for marketing bottled water that the Daily Telegraph exploited to peddle its lies is one factor driving the planet towards being a lifeless, arid wasteland. One day the only way you will be able to get water will be by buying a copy of the Daily Telegraph, which, after the cockroach and the comparably resilient Boris Piccaninny Watermelon Letterbox Johnson, may be the last recognisable traces of the world we knew. It’s typical of the strange contradictions of Brexit Britain that the Daily Mail’s antiplastic straw campaign makes it a definable defender of the very world the Daily Telegraph seems determined to destroy.
But the tide may yet be turning against the planetmurdering, lying Daily Telegraph and its lying public face, as the Overton window of Boris Piccaninny Watermelon Letterbox Johnson’s accession to the throne of broken Brexit Britain narrows. Last Monday, Watermelon’s latest empty anti-EU Daily Telegraph missive barely even provoked outrage, just looks of tired despair in the faces of those charged with delivering the impossible Brexit Watermelon himself once promised.
Like a toddler, Johnson expects parental praise for his mastery of basic bowel functions