The Thrasonic Journalist Files – Day Three

A blog entry which provoked responses from both Mark Thomas and Dominic Cavendish clearly deserves some kind of follow up. Mark Thomas sent me a lengthy email about the ‘horribly positive review’ (admittedly I did push it in his direction), whilst Cavendish himself has left a comment on our blog, a huge improvement on the comments we normally receive, for all of its shortcomings.

In it, Cavendish advises me: ‘Do please carry on reading the Guardian – ideally suited to people who have a tin ear for journalistic irony.’

Journalistic irony??? Is that what it was?

Suddenly it all makes sense. The suggestion that the Telegraph might have changed the face of British comedy, the sentence ‘a good percentage of his latest show owes everything to the revelations this paper published earlier in the year’ and the conclusion that Mark Thomas’ triumph was won by the Telegraph, that’s all ironic!!! Let’s hope none of Cavendish’s superiors misread it as badly as I did, or he might accidentally get promoted!

Clearly Mark Thomas also has a tin ear, as he thinks that Cavendish ‘has not reviewed my show so much as given the Telegraph itself a glowing review. It is arselicking of the highest order, he should go far in journalism.’

We stand corrected.

Sadly, Cavendish’s undeniable talent for journalistic irony has compromised the accuracy of his review (perhaps not such a problem when you work for the Telegraph). Mark Thomas tells me the review fails to mention the real focus of the show which is not the issue of MPs’ expenses so much as the absence of a systemic approach to the problem and a legal means of redress (he uses the example of Margaret Moran, who has been off sick since the affair blew up but continues to claim full pay and pension rights as there is no legal or democratic way of making her resign) – however, he suggests that ‘the Telegraph doesn’t appear to be interested in genuine change for greater democracy and transparency their primary motive is flogging their caky rag.’ (And oh, how I wish it had been me who had used the phrase ‘flogging their caky rag’…)

Mark Thomas agrees with James Aylett that Heather Brooke deserved a mention, saying ‘She is a fine journalist and campaigner and for the Telegraph to ride in the on the back of a cheque book and claim the story as theirs is bending the truth somewhat and an insult to the work Heather has done.’ So he will be pleased that Cavendish promises ‘I will do my utmost to mention the self-effacing Heather Brooke (I can’t quite work out if that’s ironic, damn this tin ear) whenever possible because clearly the biggest domestic news story of the year – which Mark Thomas is rash enough to attribute to the Telegraph – owed next to nothing to the endeavours of the, don’t you just hate em, ‘right-wing press’.

Ah, yes. Mark Thomas had something to say about the endeavours of the Telegraph (or ‘caky rag’) as well. ‘I would be wary of the political agenda of the Barclay brothers (Telegraph owners), who are hardly stirling examples of transparency or indeed democracy given their recent shenanigans over in Sark […] The only way the Telegraph can claim to be altering the way in which political comedy is seen is by airbrushing out the bits they do not wish aired.’ And indeed it seems that certain aspects of Mark Thomas’ show have been conveniently airbrushed out in Cavendish’s review – amongst other things, it ‘doesn’t dwell on whole areas of the show that delve into tax dodgers and off shore regimes (something I would have thought the owners of the Telegraph the lovely off shore Barclay brothers would enjoy tremendously). Strangely he doesn’t mention the attack on non-domiciles either.’

So much for Cavendish’s review. But what about his far less positive conclusions about this blog? Even my tin ear can detect a hint of irony in ‘Best of luck with whatever it is you actually do’, but just in case you really are interested Mr Cavendish, so far this year I have written and directed the music for a sell-out Greek comedy, co-directed a pilot series for internet broadcast, composed several substantial choral and orchestral works and two organ voluntaries which were played in King’s College Cambridge at a service celebrating the university’s 800th anniversary, written a short feature film, the first 45,000 words of a novel, a multitude of sketches and even one short story, plus introduced the films of Buster Keaton to primary schools around Bedfordshire in a major composition project. Perhaps if you were to adopt my work ethic you would have less need to give yourself the credit for other people’s achievements?

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