So. Judging by the story's viral contagiousness, you may well already have read about Barry Delaney (above). He commemorated the death of his friend Kevin Elliott (killed in action in Afghanistan) by attending his funeral dressed in a fluorescent yellow dress and pink stockings -- in accordance with a pact he had made to do so, should Elliott be killed.
In other words: journo-wet-dream.
For what could be more delightful to a lazy-penned hack than a story that combined so many heady ingredients?:
- topicality (mounting Helmland province deaths, growing public antipathy and all)
- transvestism (a potent google-magnet of a topic, if ever there was one … want proof? Consider the following graph, in which the popularity of transvestite searches is measured against the ever-reliable yardstick of those for doughty 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli)
- tragedy (chasing the Princess Diana dragon)
… and, most important of all:
Yes, trash. By which I mean those vast segments of British society that any decent broadsheet regards with towering, bile-swollen condescension, trembling hatred and hyperventilating incomprehension.
To see what I mean, read Mark Townsend's nauseating coverage of what is (I'll freely admit) a bizarre story. Or make do with a few extracts:
It was just after 10am last Wednesday when Delaney squeezed into a tight lime-green mini-dress and donned a pair of 99p pink knee-high socks. Then, assiduously avoiding the mirror, the 25-year-old poured a neat vodka – his, and Elliot's, favourite drink.
– 'Assiduously' … and that faux-literary dash after vodka. Leave off the false afflatus, please.
His reminisces last Wednesday were interrupted by the blare of a car horn from the forecourt 120ft below. It was Jonathan Wells in his Vauxhall Vectra, ready to take Delaney to his best friend's funeral. Wells made no mention of Delaney's odd attire during the two-mile drive to St Mary's Church in Dundee's centre.
– Was it really necessary to name the car?
The pact was Elliott's idea: a year ago, while the friends were watching Delaney's widescreen television together, he began hypothesising about his funeral.
– and, now, the reference to his 'widescreen television' … as if this were somehow a noteworthy detail.
They had been friends since 2005, when they were introduced by Elliott's 22-year-old sister, Kirsty, and hit it off immediately. They had bonded in the drinking dens of Dundee – their favourite haunt was Fat Sam's. They were inseparable except for Elliott's long tours in combat zones.
– 'Their favourite haunt was Fat Sam's'? What? Seriously: what?
What the fuck kind of a tone is this article meant to be written in? The whole thing oozes cliche in a way that is alternately (sometimes simultaneously) inept and sardonic. It seems to be an attempt to straddle cloyingly maudlin sentimentality and spiteful tongue-in-cheek mockery.
It is simultaneously one of the most bizarre pieces of writing I have come across in the Guardian and one of the most repellant.
... don't you think?