3rd August 2009
Re.: Old Goats and Grey Squirrels
I am writing in response to the piece ‘Silly Old Goats Grow Old, Disgracefully’, which appeared in the 2nd August (Sunday) edition of your newspaper and cited my Twitter account.
On the 9th May 2009, I placed the following ad online: ‘EMPLOYMENT REQUIRED. Sexy man, experienced sofa operator, Ali G beard. Licensed squirrel catcher. Will travel for work but not to Belgium.’ I hardly expected to see this serious attempt to raise my public profile reprinted in your newspaper and used as the basis of a dastardly assault on my character. The piece was sour, spiteful, and poorly punctuated. My wife was in tears after she read it and vowed never to vote Independent again.
In these days of mass unemployment and a rampant grey squirrel population, I would have thought that any attempt to find work proactively would have been applauded and not used to categorise a man as a ‘silly old goat’. I suppose you think I should simply fade into obscurity like Lenny Bennett, Bernie Clifton, or Suzanne Charlton. Well, I’ve been told by some of the nation’s top publicists that I could become the next Adrian Chiles or Russell Brand, but with the advantage of speaking Estuary English and requiring very little public nudity.
I also saw, with some concern, that you listed my name alongside that of Silvio Berlusconi, who I consider a prince among men given that he has provided employment for many of Italy’s most impoverished young women with money from his own pocket. Similarly, you mock Jack Nicholson, asking: ‘Can there be anyone who doesn't feel repulsed by the pictures of Nicholson holidaying with his paunch?’ But, with respect, what would you expect the poor man to do? Abandon his stomach in a box? Bury it in the garden? Leave it in the park reading a newspaper?
This insult comes at a time when I have noted, with growing frustration, that ‘The Independent’ is trying to cater to a younger audience through garish colours, shorter sentences, and constant mention of Lily Allen. All populations are ageing (though you newspaper types do like to repeat that ridiculous cliché about ‘the ageing population’) but there are increasing numbers of men, like me, in the early throes of middle age. We are your core readership and you would be wise to cater to our interests rather than mock us. You could make up for this personal insult if you began to address issues of an interest to me and my kind, such as: thermal socks, sheds, Barnes Wallis, rambling, onion diets, Harris tweed, rotavator reviews, and (please!), less coverage of Graham Norton who wouldn’t know how to trap a squirrel if he had one up his trouser leg (and I’m not sure that he doesn’t).
Yours, in a state of some discomfort,
The Richard Madeley Appreciation Society
Monday, 3 August 2009
Old Goats and Grey Squirrels
The following email is now on its way to 'The Independent'. I will publish their reply/apology should I receive one. [UPDATE, 10th August, 2009: They did print part of the letter, here.]