One of the very first things they teach you in British journalism school (Twitter) is that opinions are not given, but formed. Like diamonds in mantle, gold in supernovae, or the thin film of black slime that accrues in the upper corners of a badly ventilated toilet, commentary is the result of decades of heated pressures working on the masculine mind, the myriad life experiences and lived truths, distilling eventually, inevitably and miraculously to one of roughly five or six types of opinion.

Like Donatello sweating in a Florentine workshop, it is the task of today’s commentator to gaze, unblinking, at the thick slab of opinion-marble and remove each part that is not a bloody good take. Failing that, they simply resolve to contrive whatever stance is broadly acceptable to the two or three organisations willing to pay them for publishing it.

Who are these new male pen-smiths? And how are they different from what’s gone before? The landscape of journalism has changed since the days when a dedicated hack survived on whiskey, cigarettes and scoops alone. Nowadays, their trilbies unadorned with little cards that say PRESS, a commentator subsists on wine, drugs, catty digital rejoinders, and numbered lists of, say, cabinet ministers who look like owls.

‘News is whatever somebody doesn’t want printed’ said someone who was very definitely not George Orwell at some point in the last century, ‘all else is public relations’. The good news is, all of the journalists we will describe for you here today are more than willing to print things others don’t want them to. The bad news is, those ‘others’ are us, their tired, saddened readers, who won’t be getting a reprieve from their like any time soon.

Laptop Ravers

IRL Style

Tooled with an expensively-sourced record collection, here we see a recently-graduated young man try to make sense of this twisting world by writing 7000 word eulogies of legendary nightclubs, a task made more challenging by the tedious fact that the author was quite literally yet to be born when said establishments were operating.

Lit Pin-Ups

Charles Bukowski, Will Self, YouTube Comments.

Prose Style

‘Just imagine if you can. It’s Manchester. The year is 1989. Margaret fucking Thatcher is still in power. You’re in a club. You’re in a club with your mates. You’re in a club that will be remembered by history as the greatest that will ever have existed. It’s called The Hacienda.’

Level of Self-Delusion

Father dancing with daughter-in-law’s friends to Right Said Fred at his son’s wedding.

State-Funded Comedians

IRL Style

Watch as they cruise through Soho private members club looking to find a group of models to recognise them, before repairing back to an after-party to shout about politics and delete lines of cocaine. They’re anxious about the likelihood of their BBC3 pilot getting bought; more anxious still about being metoo’d.

Lit Pin-Ups

Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, The Collected Works of A.A Gill.

Prose Style

‘Allow me, if I can, to face the facts: I would rather twerk naked outside my nephew’s primary school than listen to that inveterate jizztrumpet, Mr Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, feel that he has the right to pontificate to me, a tax-paying citizen of the United Kingdom, about how our country should and should not be run.’

Level of Self-Delusion

School geek turning up to their twentieth year reunion in a hired limousine.

Hiberno-Bores

IRL Style

A largely English audience delights in being scolded and gives the hiberno-bore’s amateurish and histrionic talking points undue prominence, since they either a) know too little to correct them, or b) are simply too overwhelmed with white-hot colonial guilt to hazard an attempt.

Lit Pin-Ups

Brendan Behan, The Gawain Poet, those bits of James Joyce printed on mirrors in Irish pubs.

Prose Style

‘Your own lacerating stupidity at never having heard of the DUP, for not even knowing that they were a big deal before they were even remotely a big deal, is returned, in a joyous taste of irony, with two succint words: No Deal.’

Level of Self-Delusion

The jockey pundits who think that standing on a box beside Claire Balding for three days makes them friends with her.

Half Monties

IRL Style

The minnows of the right-wing comment bowl. Invariably dependent on the benevolence of a Full Monty (as in the Withnail pederast) who will ask them to write think pieces on subjects they cannot conceivably know anything about, but need to be pronounced either good or bad to please Full Monty.


‘Good’ = Annunziata Rees-Mogg, continued bouyancy in the English furniture market, the Amritsar Massacare.


‘Bad’ = Hillary Clinton, the Paris Accord, why people choose to buy box-sets.


Duly they turn out the stodgy, twee prose equivalent of a Battle of Britain commemorative plate in order to convince apoplectic geriatrics that the young aren’t totally a lost cause. They owe the Royal Automobile Club a small mortgage’s worth of money and they wear jackets that stink like wet spaniels.

Lit Pin-Ups

Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Rod Liddle.

Prose Style

‘As I strolled down the Embankment yesterday en route to give lunch to an up-and-coming young bankbench MP, at the fabulously refurbished Rules, the vista that opened in front of me filled with me pride. Father Thames – the soothing bloodline of the world’s most ancient city! Flowing placidly from the city’s very inception, gambolling from that great Gothic palace; still today a hub of global capital, as glorious now as when our Victorian forebears set out to change the world. How could one not feel pride? But there remains an understandable anger. Anger at what this city has now become, the dumping ground of careerist politicans and jerk chicken.’

Level of Self-Delusion

Goalkeeper scurrying up for a corner during the 97th minute of a FA Cup tie.

Woke-ing Class Heroes

IRL Style

The Corbynista-Jugend, who balance a heartfelt concern for the plight of the working class with an odd refusal to believe that any of them might, for example, be within the majority of the population who currently oppose Brexit. This revulsion can spill over into the peculiar spectacle of actual, real-life, not from-a-fairy-tale aristocrats telling their social inferiors what the word ‘working-class’ actually means. The WCH are at the very least earnest, and as such don’t fake their enthusiasm, not least when tackling their opponents among the right-wing commentariat, in much the same way that lonelier children will resent their more popular counterparts.

Lit Pin-Ups

George Orwell, Mark Fisher, Twitter.

Prose Style

‘Authentic working class voices in Britain are being drowned out by the corporate elite that have turned the victims of austerity against themselves, and privileged centrists aren’t the ones to amplify those voices.’

Level of Self-Delusion

A posse of Wimbledon housewives furiously documenting their ‘girls night out’ on Instagram.

Hanging Chads

IRL Style

Conversational style of a walking Wikipedia, albeit without possessing that online encyclopedia’s commitment to factual accuracy. Slowly sinking into penury through monthly subsciptions to The Nation, The New York Times, and The New Yorker. Their sleep pattern is now entirely attuned to Eastern Daylight Time. Obsessed with New Orleans, which they declaim ‘as the most authentic place in America’. They have never been to New Orleans.

Lit Pin-Ups

Christopher Hitchens, Christopher Hitchens, Christopher Hitchens.

Prose Style

‘The world watches on in shock, horror and disbelief as American hegemony continues to collapse on all sides. When did this slide begin its dread march? Was it George Bush’s racist insinutations on John McCain during the 2000 Republican Primary? Or does the rot lie deeper? With the perfomative moralising of Ken Starr and Newt Gingrich? The grim-eyed stupidity of Ronald Reagan? The patrician obfuscations of Richard Nixon? Who indeed knows. All we know is that America is in trouble, and that we need someone to save her from herself. But which of the candidates is up to the mark? There is one that I feel is most eminently placed to allow that shining beacon of freedom to remember all that is best about herself: Kamala Harris.’

Level of Self-Delusion

Low-level stockbroker buying a magnum of champagne in a West End nightclub.