The Scoop

I’ve just finished reading Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop which is, according to The Observer, “The funniest novel ever written about journalism”.

The story follows William Boot who is a Nature Columnist in the back pages of the Daily Beast, a fictional tabloid based on Waugh’s experiences working for the Daily Mail. Boot, by an unfortunate mistake of identity, finds himself summoned to the office of news media magnate, Lord Cooper, and subsequently sent to the African Republic of Ishmaelia to report on a civil war that isn’t actually happening. The book covers the back-stabbing tendencies of Fleet Street news correspondents, the paranoia and fragility of news institutions, the bizarre methods journalists will construct to create fictional news and all the while laughing whole-heartedly at the people who believe everything the papers have to say.

Whilst there is undoubtedly truth in his tale, Waugh does take his discredit of Fleet Street to extremes. I understand that magazine journalism, and more specifically fashion magazine journalism is probably not quite as fast paced as the daily print medium; but this book made me even more excited to one day work in the industry. The secret wireless telegrams (which are surely similar to BlackBerry instant messages), the typewriters (obviously old fashioned MacBooks), and of course the expenses accounts!

Waugh also pays impeccable detail to the descriptions of characters and their clothing. Whilst the fashion lacked within Scoop to that of other works by Waugh like Vile Bodies, it was certainly an element I enjoyed. Starched collars, linen suits and tie pins.

My finishing Scoop was well timed as no sooner had I put the paperback down and turned on BBC News than a documentary had started, following Simon Kelner, a fellow Manc, and Editor-In-Chief of The Indepedent. The quick documentary was a day-in-the-life-of format which started at Kelner’s 6:00am alarm call. This was succeeded by an hour of The Today Show, coffee, a read of the morning’s Independent, Tennis with the paper’s Managing Director, morning meeting, meetings, proof reads, interviews with prospective Labour party leaders, interviews over Luncheon, afternoon meetings and front-page confirmation, proofs, art proofs, and dinner.

I don’t know if I could be Kelner everyday but I’d love a go!


Birthday Gifts: Evelyn Wow

Continuing along the theme of Birthday, in some desperate attempt to ignore the fact that I am no longer a teenager and must start worrying about my future (as if I didn’t anyway), I am going to prattle (nay, Ramble) about another collection of my wonderful Birthday gifts.

Being the literate sort, studier and general enthusiast, I was glad to receive some rather brilliant books from my loved ones. first was Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf given to me by a dear friend and fellow follower of all things fashionable, Christopher.

I can’t wait to begin this literary treat as it sounds right up my street (I rhyme now too you know). The entire novel is based around Mrs Clarissa Dalloway and her organising a party whilst remembering friends and loved ones of years gone by. Her life and the lives of her friends are intertwined with that of Septimus Warren Smith, a man on the brink of madness with no real connection to the throng of elegant party goers. I am certainly one for elegant tales of the parties and balls of the aristocratic and perhaps one day I shall get to crash one such ball, living in a Kingdom and all.

The next book is one by Evelyn Waugh (believe it or not that is a man’s name) and is called Brideshead Revisited. It was given to me by Brightonian resident Karla, and is apparently one of the author’s more important works which satires the loss of wealth and plenty in the years leading up to the Second World War whilst also scrutinizing Catholicism. Delightful.

Waugh’s other works, which include Vile Bodies and Scoop also adorn my bookshelf, the later of which I am still currently reading. Vile Bodies reflects, similarly to Brideshead Revisited, the years between the two World Wars but focuses on the artisocratic throng of young people that made the headlines and the first installment of British celebrities. Their lives whizz round in an endless intoxicated party which ends rather all too abruptly in the trenches and ammunitions factories.

It is one of my favourite books and also one of my favourite films! Stephen Fry adapted the book for cinema in his directorial debut with Bright Young Things. The film’s tagline read: “Sex, Scandal, Celebrity, some things never change!” Here is a little clip with some words from some of Britain’s best actors and actresses on the film and Fry’s directorial debut. The film itself is a must watch if just for the amazing wardrobe, extravagant costumes and wonder-filled parties!

George Orwell once declared that Waugh was “about as good a novelist as one can be while holding untenable opinions.” Which brings me nicely onto my next book, a collection of George Orwells critical essays from a tiny dusty dreamy book shop in Totnes, Devon where my Mother sought it out to encourage me to begin a diverse library of my own. She hand wrote on the first page a little note about how “a man’s true strength lies within his knowledge”. I couldn’t agree more.


P.S. Evelyn married a lady called Evelyn HAHA. His pronounced evil-yn and her’s the more common and feminine. Their friends called them He-velyn and She-velyn! I heart Wikipedia.