There was a time you could hold the Daily Mirror up to the world and see real life reflected in it.
Hold it up now and all you will see is the fantasy life of plastic people who, we are told, are celebrities.
To my mind a celebrity is an outstanding person in their field of expertise. Richard Burton is a celebrity (unfortunately a dead one now) and rightly deserves the label.
The parish clerk who took over a council meeting and barred the officers from taking part (yes I do know her name but I refuse to add to the love/hate surrounding her by mentioning it) is NOT in the celebrity category.
Nowadays the Mirror strives to give everyone their 15 minutes of fame (well more like 15 seconds) whether they deserve it or not.
I grew up with the Mirror, it is one of two newspapers we had delivered when I was a child.
Initially I enjoyed it for the cartoon strips – Andy Capp and The Perishers – but later went on to read the news stories and by the time I was at grammar school I was following columnists such as Cassandra and Keith Waterhouse.
It might have been the BBC that broke into its schedule on Friday 22 November, 1963, at about 7.30pm to tell the UK that President Jack Kennedy had been shot, but it was the Mirror that really gave the true horror of the story on Saturday morning:
Less than five years later, in 1968, it was the Mirror again that gave us the news of another Kennedy death when Bobby was shot.
It was punchy pages like this that made the Mirror stand out over the years and although I read other newspapers my regular was always this proper socialist presenter of news.
What has happened to it now?
Over the last 15 years I have watched, in sorrow, as I saw it sink lower and lower into the gutter and feared the day it would be indistinguishable from Murdoch’s Scum.
Today I think it has come close to hitting rock bottom.
As I did my daily trawl of the online news I found that the Mirror was headlining three “news” stories.
It began with a screamer about the Queen “slamming” anti-vaxxers. It toned it down a bit by the time it reached the next layer of headlines when it claimed Her Maj had “hit out” at those unwilling to have the vaccine.
When it finally reached the story we discovered HM had merely urged those unwilling to be vaccinated to go ahead for their own sake as well as for others.
I did in fact hear the interview in question and Maj had spoken in a warm, kindly manner showing concern for those fearing the effects of the vaccine rather than “slamming” or “hitting out” or even “urging”.
This anti-climax of a story was followed by a tale of a “terrible, friendship-breaking row” between two actresses who had known each other since childhood and even played sisters in a long-running TV series.
The couple in question were Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson probably best known from Birds of a Feather, a story of two sisters living together when their Essex “gangster” hubbies are sent down for a long stretch.
I say best known but Pauline Quirke has actually done more work on her own and my feeling is that Robson tagged along on her coat tails.
To get back to the non-story, however, and we discover that they had been involved in the friendship-busting row as Quirke was “left out” of a couple of special editions of BOAF.
Throughout the tale there was no quote to support the “row” claim, from Quirke, Robson or their co-star Lesley Joseph (said to be at the centre of the row).
The only suggestion that attempts had been made to get any quote from the participants was a final paragraph to say Quirke’s agent had not been available to comment.
If I had submitted that story it would have been spiked and I would have been carpeted by the editor.
Finally we came to the ultimate in non-stories.
Apparently Emma Watson (yes the one who played the schoolgirl witch in the Potter saga) is to retire from the silver screen aged just 30.
That is a story?
NO … IT … IS … NOT.