When Joshua Allen, the publisher who looks after this email list, asked me to write a weekly piece about “economics and stuff like that”, I was sceptical. Not only because “economics” as it’s typically understood and practised is a load of cobblers (more on that in future editions), but also because it sounded dangerously like he wanted me to be a columnist.
Columnism and the columnists who do it are a blight on our society. With a few rare exceptions, their job appears to be to drip sewage into the public discourse and test out wacky ideas to see which ones might fly with the populace…
The most brazenly insane nonsense then seeps from their carefully polished prose bombs out into the wider consciousness, day after day, decade after decade. The results of this arrangement are all around us, and I ask you to consider whether they are good.
My objections run deeper. The very concept of an ‘opinion columnist’ is absurd. They say opinions are like bumholes – everyone’s got one. So what are we to make of people who agree to show their bumhole to thousands of strangers, for money, on a regular schedule?
So I was all ready to say to Joshua “Nah bruv, not for me squire,” which is authentically how I talk in person. But instead I agreed to do it, on three conditions:
- My ‘columns’ would be nothing more than a series of incoherent rants and I may wildly contradict what I wrote literally a week ago (so just like a proper columnist then). Also I have a job and a life etc. and I write this on my phone on the way to work, so my copy will contain typos and inconsistent punctuation. It will also often be based on zero actual research. (So just like a proper columnist then).
- No fixed word limit. Sometimes I might have an idea that’s good for 200 words, so why pad it out? Other times I may have a genuine insight with nuance and everything that needs a bit of unpacking. I currently average about two of those a decade, so stay tuned.
- I get to refer to him in my copy by his official name, Joshua, which he hates.
Being a desperate man with low standards (Ed: this is a lie), Joshua immediately agreed to my demands. So I added one more:
- I want to source ideas for topics from the readers.
I’m not that clever and I’m not going to have a reliable stream of great ideas gushing out of my mind. That’s true of all humans and is a fundamental reason why most columnists produce mostly dreck most of the time.
Also, I hate that whole media hierarchy thing where they try to pretend they’re reflecting the silent majority, but when a member of the public breaks that silence to call them a knobhead on Twitter, the response is to call for an End To Online Anonymity so they can grass them up to their boss. Piss off.
Anyway, let’s kick this thing off. Here’s a question: if you could change one thing about your day-to-day life what would it be and why?
Send your answer to email@example.com.
I look forward to reading your moans.