Wedding Hells: What we can learn from The Sun's slurpingly servile exclusive on Boris Johnson's wedding...
... other than that Harry Cole thinks dignity is a sort of blow-up boat.
|Mic Wright||May 24||4|
As Harry Cole awoke one morning from uneasy (but curiously horny) dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a giant sycophant…
There is no more pathetic illustration of the banal, venal, and ultimately morally bankrupt quality of the British tabloid press than Harry Cole’s commitment to reporting with spittle-flecked indulgence on the Prime Minister’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend.
The Sun’s front page screams Exclusive: 2022 Bojo Bash, Boris To Wed Carrie, and there is Harry Cole’s byline, the latest act of debasement in Britain’s most public cuckolding for cash.
From the first sentence on the copy reads as if Cole were recounting the news from between gritted teeth with the fakest of fake smiles plastered across his Winston the Insurance Bulldog face:
BORIS Johnson and Carrie Symonds will “celebrate their wedding” next summer, The Sun can reveal.
Those speech marks around “celebrate their wedding” are works of art, as is the fact that The Sun has linked the words “The Prime Minister” to an SEO-chasing story hub titled ‘Who is Boris Johnson?’ Harry Cole knows exactly who Boris Johnson is — he rides a stallion shirtless through his dreams on a daily basis.
And a question hangs heavy over that reflexively tabloid description of the event — “a lavish bash”: Who’s going to pay for it given Boris Johnson’s penchant for asking donors to put their hands in their pockets to pay for his personal whims?
You might say it’s cruel to mock Cole’s requirement to write slobbering praise of his ex-girlfriend’s new beau and it is, but both he and The Sun in general revel in gimlet-eyed cruelty towards anyone they are not required to suck up to by their proprietor; turnabout is fair play.
Cole’s story is a classic one-fact tabloid splash. He’s been told that they are sending out ‘save the date’ cards, most likely by mutual friends, but he doesn’t have much more to go on. So he adds unhealthy dollops of speculation to the thin scrape of facts:
The couple got engaged in late 2019 but, like thousands of other loved-up Brits, have had to delay plans because of Covid.
Details of exactly where the couple will say “I do” remain a closely guarded secret, but pals say they are waiting until next year for a big celebration to be on the safe side.
BoJo is expected to announce that the lockdown cap of 30 guests at weddings will be lifted next month.
However, friends of the couple say the fight against the virus, and getting the country bouncing back from the pandemic, means this summer is too soon for their big knees-up.
Early contenders as a location for the party include the PM’s country pile Chequers in Buckinghamshire, or the Port Lympne safari park in Kent, where Carrie works.
Last night a spokesman for the couple declined to comment on a “private family event”.
The only other PM to marry in office was Lord Liverpool who wed Mary Chester in 1822.
It’s grotesquely unfair to compare Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds to the other “thousands of loved-up Brits [who have] had to delay plans because of Covid”. For a start, none of those other ‘loved-up Brits’ — the phrase doesn’t get any less vomitous in repetition — were ultimately responsible for sat-navving the country up shit creek and choking the waters with 130,000 dead.
The Sun has time and time again tried to frame Johnson and Symonds’ ‘love’ as fairytale, but the truth is that it’s all grimms and very little fairytale. Cole’s story includes an image of The Sun front page that claimed the exclusive about their relationship — Bojo Girl Exclusive: Boris Blonde — Carrie is ex-Tory PR chief.
That tale was told in September 2018, in the same week that Johnson revealed that he was finally divorcing his second wife Marina Wheeler, a woman he had treated abysmally for decades — including multiple affairs and at least one other child he pretends he’s unable to count.
On February 29 2020, just 11 days after his divorce settlement was agreed, Johnson and Symonds’ engagement was announced along with the news that she was expecting a baby (Wilfred, who turned 1 last month). Anyone vaguely civilised would think that just 11 days between agreeing a divorce settlement and announcing your next marriage is indecently short, but by Boris Johnson’s standards, it’s practically the height of courtly manners.
Johnson made history by becoming the first serving Prime Minister to feature in a family court ruling. But it was hardly a shock.
In 2013, appeal court judges had to rule that the public had a right to know that he had fathered a daughter during what the papers decorously referred to as “an adulterous liaison” while Mayor of London in 2009. His similarly adulterous “technology lessons” with Jennifer Arcuri, which seemed to have earned her preferential access to trips and public money, are still being investigated but that has curiously been hampered by deleted evidence — oops, butterfingers.
Even Cole’s slurpingly servile wedding announcement cannot avoid mentioning yet another less-than-fairytale element of the couple’s ‘romance’:
He reportedly proposed on holiday on the Caribbean island of Mustique, shortly after his landslide victory at December 2019’s General Election.
Commons sleazebusters are currently probing who exactly paid for the five-star trip amid a donations row.
… just the one line, of course, and should those “Commons sleazebusters” — does that job come with a proton pack? — decide to sanction Johnson for taking cash from mysterious sources then you can be sure Harry Cole will find a whole list of excuses for the Prime Minister’s actions.
This isn’t even Cole’s first Johnson/Symonds marriage ‘scoop’. Back in March, he slapped the ‘Exclusive’ label on yet another tissue paper-thin revelation — Bigger weddings ON for summer as industry comes ‘roaring back’ and Boris hints he may even marry Carrie Symonds. That was at least a two fact story, one better than today’s tedious speculate-a-thon.
Cole pads out his tale by surmising that the wedding might happen at Chequers or even Downing Street itself. Well, it would be good to get some mileage out of all that expensive, inquiry-causing wallpaper, wouldn’t it? Cole’s lack of facts is so desperate he’s reduced to including anonymous sources speculating on speculation:
A source told The Sun tonight: “It would be nice for Chequers to be in the news for happy reasons for once.”
Cole’s story is utter fluff and wouldn’t matter at all were it not for two things:
… the hilarity of him continuing to report on his ex’s relationship with the sweaty over-excitement of a man hiding in the wardrobe
… the fact that The Sun covers the Prime Minister, a public servant with a past more chequered than a Ska band’s shoes, like a celebrity to be indulged rather than a politician to be scrutinised.
It also says nothing good about the British media that Joe Murphy, The Evening Standard’s Political Editor thinks Cole getting word that his ex-girlfriend, who was already engaged, has sent out ‘save the date’ cards is “a stonking scoop”. Just as The Sun has stripped the word ‘exclusive’ so clean of meaning that you can see its bones, the word ‘scoop’ is entirely empty at this point.
Harry Cole @MrHarryCole🥂 Wedding bells in Westminster... Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds tell friends and family to save the date to celebrate their wedding next July... Tomorrow's @TheSun reveals... https://t.co/YdKbHisNPT
Were Boris Johnson not useful to The Sun, its parent company News UK, and its increasingly Palpatine-like proprietor Rupert Murdoch, his divorces, dalliances, and dodgy donors would be framed as fatal flaws rather than character.
Every time Johnson’s lying and cheating is excused by papers like The Sun, I remember the line it took when Paddy Ashdown’s affair was uncovered. It stuck him with the sobriquet Paddy Pantsdown for life and screamed from its front page that…
… politicians should not allow their self-righteous indignation, their protests about their right to privacy, to obscure an even more important truth: VOTERS HAVE RIGHTS, TOO
Kelvin MacKenzie, the human slug hybrid who was Editor of The Sun at the time, sneered in a BBC interview:
If you don’t want to appear in the papers then don’t drop your trousers… it’s as simple as that.
Only it’s not that simple at all. The Sun’s moralising is very selectively applied.
Imagine how a Labour leader with at least one child they pretend not to have, a brazen history of affairs, and a relationship with the truth worse than the one they had with their ex-wife would be treated.
The headline would be something like Liebour Leader To Wed AGAIN: Will lascivious Lab lad stay faithful this time?
But back in this reality, there’s one truly tragic fact missing from Cole’s ‘scoop’: Whether he’s received an invite himself or will be forced to bang on the windows like Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate but many times more embarrassing.
Still, before the ‘big day’ comes — if it does — you can expect many more excitable exclusives from Cole; always the bylined, never the bridegroom.