Sunday, 16 January 2011

Liz Jones: murder, disappointing bars and buttons

Of all the the journalists in Britain you would want to write about the Joanna Yeates murder, Liz Jones is probably nestling somewhere near the bottom of the list. You might think, after all, that Jones' penchant for consumerist superficiality and ill-directed moaning doesn't quite carry the gravitas required to really deal with such a case of genuine human tragedy and emotion. Well, you'd be right.

Jones has travelled to Bristol to recreate Yeates' final evening and put her own, er, unique talents to use, covering the story in a lightweight human interest style, in Is lovely Jo becoming just another thumbnail on the police website?. Right off the bat, from the very title, it's starting to go wrong. Yeates is one of the most high-profile adult murder victims of recent times. There are people dying all the time who don't get a mention in the national papers, much less the dizzying 24-hour coverage that Yeates' murder got.

It doesn't take long for Jones' peculiar obsession with class and social mobility to surface:
This is where Joanna Yeates spent her last evening before she set off up the hill, past all the twinkly shops and bars (a Habitat, a Space NK beauty emporium; Bristol is nothing if not upwardly mobile) towards her death.

The bar is OK but ordinary. The wine list, chalked on a board, says ‘Lauren Perrier’.
I wish she had spent what were probably her last hours on earth somewhere lovelier.
Yes, the real tragedy is that Yeates didn't even get to spend the evening of her violent death in a posh enough bar. You can rest assured that if Liz Jones ever gets strangled, her family will be able to take some comfort in the fact that she was no doubt yukking it up drinking overpriced cocktails in a pretentious London drinking hole before she met her end.

You get the sense that the surroundings make it all the more tragic for Jones. She's not alone in this; it's common for papers to treat more middle-class victims of crime, or crime in 'upwardly mobile' areas, as more upsetting. These aren't council estate scumbags that might deserve it, these are people you could see at a cocktail party!
I walk past the beautiful university building on my right, with Waitrose on my left. I wander the bright aisles, full of young women rushing round after work, leaving with carrier bags and expectation.

I head up the hill towards Clifton, the leafy part of the city. It’s quieter now, and darker. I find Tesco, and go in. I almost buy that upmarket pizza; the choice tells me Jo wanted a lovely life, something above the ordinary.

There's almost a flicker of emotion in whatever passes for Jones' heart here; this girl wanted a slightly more expensive pizza. If Liz Jones ate a pizza, she would probably choose a more expensive one too. Isn't that profound? That connection? Doesn't it make you want to weep, just a little? This could have happened to our favourite self-absorbed newspaper columnist! What then? What would we do?

Jones talks to some police officers:
I tell them I’m spooked, walking here. ‘Don’t be spooked,’ one says. ‘Residents are campaigning to get brighter street lights installed.’ So the antique, lovely ones are to disappear to be replaced by ugly ones because of something even uglier.
It just gets worse, doesn't it? I mean, the murder is one thing. But the ramifications of it are severe. What if we lose the pretty antique street lights? What might that do to house prices? I can barely bring myself to consider the horror.

Jones then wonders why other, perhaps local, drivers, aren't slowing down to gawp at Yeates' house, like she has done. Don't they respect Jo Yeates? It's almost like they have somewhere they need to get to, as if they don't get paid handsomely to mooch about waiting for material for their pointless articles.

Towards the end, Jones uses all her skill as a writer to haul her own petty problems into the story, and connect them thoughtfully.
My satnav takes me to the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The theory is the killer took the long route from the flat to where he dumped the body to avoid the CCTV cameras. Perhaps he also wanted to avoid the 50p toll.

I don’t have 50p and try tossing 30p and a White Company button into the bucket. It doesn’t work.
Never mind Jo Yeates; when are they going to come up with a toll bridge that accepts designer buttons, for those of us too classy to carry small change? Then follows possibly the weirdest paragraph I have ever read in a national newspaper column. Jones attempts to find some kind of poignancy in this moment of personal awkwardness. Is there a way we can link toll bridges refusing to accept designer buttons with the tragic murder of a young woman? Liz Jones can find a way, sort of:
There is now an angry queue behind me. Isn’t it interesting that you can snatch a young woman’s life away from her in the most violent, painful, frightening way possible, take away her future children, her future Christmases, take away everything she loves, and yet there are elaborate systems in place to ensure you do not cross a bridge for only 30 pence?
Well...no. No, that isn't interesting. It's irrelevant, facile and absurd. Bridge tolls are no more relevant to this murder than the tooth fairy is. There is no sad irony, no lingering meaning to be found here. Are you proposing a system where murder is given a prohibitively expensive pre-paid toll? You just drove onto a toll bridge without having enough cash. Stop it.

Luckily, fortune favours the vacuous, and Liz Jones is suddenly presented with a convenient get-out, not just of her toll bridge nightmare, but of the article, as a man, who I shall call Mr Deus Ex Machina, helpfully gives her both fifty pence and a neat feed line to set up her finale:
Finally, a man in a taxi jumps out, and runs to me brandishing a 50p piece.

‘Not all men are monsters,’ he says, grinning. Maybe not. But one monster is all it takes.
[Applause]

Perhaps the real story is about Bristol's omniscient taxi drivers/users; men who can sense what a journalist is writing about and offer forth convenient set-up lines, despite not formally being given any context to do so. I hope Liz Jones' next article is about that.

78 comments:

  1. Great post but I reckon you let her off pretty lightly there. The sheer vacuity of her article and her need to constantly reinforce her peculiar class-based outlook made me really fucking angry

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  3. Word fail me about Liz Jones ever getting paid a penny for any of her 'journalism' but this piece demands that she owes anyone who had the misfortune of reading it at least a tenner.

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  4. I stopped reading at the point she went into Tesco to buy the pizza and hate that I got so far. That she travelled to Bristol to 'relive' Jo's last evening strikes me as being so obscene, so insulting, so 'it's all about me' really disgusted me

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  5. Has anyone ever *met* Liz Jones? I'm far from convinced that she isn't a Craig Brown creation.

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  6. The entire article is bizarre, self-aggrandising claptrap from Jones, the end particularly so. The idea that one might assume all men are murdering monsters but a kindly taxi driver changes all that by offering 50p. It shows how detached and up her own arse she is. Thanks for the great write-up.

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  7. Fantastic analysis. Makes Liz Jones appear even more empty and souless on top of all the overwhelming evidence.

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  8. Excellent post. The awfulness that is Liz Jones has truly hit a new low with this.

    The "carrier bags and expectation" really got me... I didn't even know Waitrose stocked Expectation.

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  9. Words can't express how vacant that woman is.

    She doesn't appear to let having nothing to say stop her from filling her pointless column week in week out.

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  11. Liz Jones. A case study in solipsism. Well done for taking it apart. Made me slightly less annoyed with myself for reading it at all.

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  12. An absolutely epic article. Makes me remember why I'm a journalist - I still have morals, thank Christ.

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  13. Christ alive, what a cunt.

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  14. Thoughtful, well-written responsse.

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  15. "Isn’t it interesting that you can snatch a young woman’s life away from her in the most violent, painful, frightening way possible, take away her future children, her future Christmases, take away everything she loves, and yet there are elaborate systems in place to ensure you do not cross a bridge for only 30 pence?

    W.T.F?

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  16. I'm firmly of the view that Liz Jones isn't actually real and is someone at the Mail's idea of 'satire'.

    Not that it doesn't make the article pretty objectionable, mind.

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  17. Sim-O, this blog was largely so I could quote that paragraph, since I'd taken the piss out of most of it on Twitter, but it was too big to quote. Genuinely one of the most ridiculous things I've read in as long as I can remember.

    Thanks for the all the comments, everyone.

    I saw someone elsewhere (Digital Spy) wondering what the deleted comment was; it was just spam, it had a link in it that looked dodgy too so I deleted it. I've never deleted any comments on this blog other than spam. Mainly cos most of the comments agree with me ;-)

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  18. Excellent post. I wrote something about Liz Jones last year. Well, if she can leech on to absolutely anything in the pursuit of personal promotion, so can I.

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  19. Believe me, someone at the Mail will have thought that was a sensitively-handled 'our woman writes', first-person piece, as opposed to, say, a crass, brand-name dropping piece of utter shite. They live on another planet there.

    I wonder if Jim Kerr will still be in love with Miss Jones after this?

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  20. Crime journoporn at its worst. She's also very lazy and inaccurate geographically. Like watching a movie filmed in an area you know, reading this makes any Bristolian aware that this is an entirely specious piece of 'writing'. Appallingly bad presentation of absolutely no real content. Calling this woman a journalist is like calling the BNP a political party. Meaningless.

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  21. Brilliant. Much like half of the users who've posted, I wrote a "Liz Jones - your article regarding X was absolute trash" piece a while ago. There really is a niche for writing that specifically targets how idiotic she is. You could probably make a daily column out of it. Hourly, even.

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  22. The most worrying thing is that she never seems to be short of work.

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  23. Thanks for posting this - I completely agree with everything you've written - and I've enjoyed reading all the comments too. I always feel uneasy after reading anything in the Daily Mail - it's good to see I'm not alone...

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  24. Of course we all know that bloggers just write boring stuff about themselves, while real journalists are out there heroically reporting The Truth.

    Just like Liz Jones.

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  25. The tollbooth bit made me really really bloody angry on behalf of the people she was holding up. If she's real, she's a complete psychopath. As well as a twat.

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  26. This was such a good read. There's no doubt in my mind that Mr Deus Ex Machina was plucked from thin air, after a lengthy and unproductive stare at a computer monitor.

    -JY

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  27. Hilarious reading Liz Jones article just after I finished watching the last series of The Wire, the made up quotes could have come striaght from the 'Scotty Templeton' school of journalism.

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  28. I'd say she was perfect for the Daily Mail.

    M2M

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  29. Fantastic. After reading Liz's article I was struck by how devastatingly superficial and nonsensical her attempt at conveying emotion was.

    As per usual Liz Jones' focus on class and all things bourgeoisie shows her up to be an airheaded twit with little concern for anyone but herself.

    I'd like to say I'm convinced she did this to kick up publicity, but then the article itself reminds me she's not clever enough to do this.

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  30. "That afternoon I had gone to the lane where Jo’s body was found. It was horrible and windswept. I don’t know what I had expected but not this."

    I can't quite get a grip on how this manages to be mad, self-contradictory, mad, ridiculous, mad and yet empty all at the same time.


    Liz, that man who beeped you and shouted at you to get out of the way - he's us. He's all of us.

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  32. Superb article, Liz Jones is consistently so far up her own arse that I worry she may suffocate.

    Daily Mail readers really are odd people aren't they??

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  33. Thank you, your post and these hilarious comments have calmed me down. You said it all, far far better than I ever could have, saving me at very least an hour of internet rage.

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  34. Found this blog post by a RT on Twitter. You've said almost everything I was thinking when I read the piece in question online yesterday. The bit about the "30p and a button" leads us straight back to her own tale of poverty and woe.

    I'd like to say the abscondant murderer missed out on an opportunity the night LJ was roaming Bristol but that may be a step too far...?

    So is it the Editor of the Mail she's boffing or Jim Kerr? She's always "Editor's Pick"!

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  35. Great post on a frankly pointless article - why in their right minds did the DM think Liz Jones could ever convey the last moments of a yp living in Bristol enjoying a Friday night drink with friends?! Her comments on pizza brands and the state of Bristol are insult to the city and Jo's loved ones. Snobbish to the last paragraph.

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  36. This woman is so sad but what is even more sad is she spares no thought for the relatives of the murdered girl.She can stoop no lower!

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  37. Excellent post, spot on. Although for a much funnier take on it, check out Daily Mash's 'Is lovely Liz becoming just another thumbnail on the Daily Mail website?'

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/opinion/columnists/is-lovely-liz-becoming-just-another-thumbnail-on-the-daily-mail-website?-201101173437/

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  38. A minor point perhaps, but the Waitrose she mentions isn't opposite the 'university building' as she puts it, it's a good few hundred metres further up the road from it.

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  39. Where, oh where (to coin a phrase) is that flaming B Ark? It's long overdue.

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  40. I feel that you are all overreacting somewhat. Her editor has obviously asked her to come up with an atmosphere piece. She reports what she saw and felt. Readers can take it for what it's worth. She doesn't get paid for writing the same thing that others are already writing. If Liz Jones and the Mail are so awful then why did you all read it? I am one of many Bristol folk who have held up others at the Suspension Bridge barriers when not having the correct change, and who hopes we don't lose our old lampposts.

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  41. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. This article was both tasteless and insulting but I couldn't help laughing at the wrong headedness of this 'journalist.'
    In her quest to, presumably, understand Jo's life she has managed to write something that is so trite, so idiotic, so soul suckingly banal. I would be tempted to compare this to the flowery meanderings of a vacuous 15 year old, trying to make sense of the world, but fear I would be doing them an injustice.
    This 'article' is sadly an insult, not just to the young woman's memory, but to every reader that reads this brain melting candyfloss confection that reaches its searing insight into the human condition when, in a Satre like moment of existential crisis at man's inhumanity to man, she 'almost' buys a supermarket pizza for some unknown reason other than that the murder victim herself bought one like it.
    Liz Jones you are a disgrace, not just to journalism (at least at The Mail you are in good company) but to humanity itself.

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  42. It's a shame she didn't recreate it up to the point where she actually got murdered by the horde of angry Bristolians as she tried to con her way over the Suspension Bridge. A machine that can tell the difference between a 5 pence piece and a 10 pence piece can tell the difference between a button (White Company, well SOMEONE'S not ashamed of their dirty money then) and money. Stupid woman. How DOES she live with herself?

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  43. Great post - I find it amusing they seem to have disabled the comments on the actual article on the daily mail website. This newspaper makes me so angry on such a regular basis, it frightens me the ammount of people who read it.

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  44. PS Great post. You are definitely going on my blogroll - anyone who makes it their mission to run rings around the idiots at the Fail is good by me!

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  45. Ah, Liz Jones - lovely to see that famous Middle English sense of good manners and fair play in action...

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  46. "Carrier bags and expectation". She blatantly stole that from Matt Bellamy.

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  47. Looks like I picked the right week to give up reading The Daily Mail - last week.

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  48. What a wonderful post. If only Liz Jones could write anywhere near as well.

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  49. As bad as the Jones article was ( in a paper I never read) I am more worried about the Twitter Mob which descends when a popular writer on Twitter complains about something. The mob gets angrier as the day goes on, the last guy is retweeted, but even more angrily ( I DISLIKE THIS STUFF MORE THAN ANYBODY), and someone just has to blog. I trace this one back to either Sue Perkins or Caitlin Moran, both of whomI follow. They didnt retweet, so thats the start.

    Once they tweeted their disapproval the ditto-heads just had to show their courtier agreement to the Twitterati Glitterati, like good courtiers.

    Someone could, and should, do a review on this. Its sinister.

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  51. Excellent. I am a journalist, and this embarrasses me and my profession. This woman's ramblings are everything that is bad about the 'Bridget Jones' style of writing. I've had to do more than my fair share of it in the past, but the problem with the likes of LJ is they truly believe what they are writing is gospel....whereas many of us have done it because it was our job.
    She's one lucky journo who gets paid handsomely yet still felt the need to plead poverty last year in the same paper, due to her overspending. The real world would terrify this woman. I'd say it'd kill her, but she has more lives than a cat.

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  52. Obvious answer is not to read the Daily Mail and its equally execrable Sunday organ.

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  53. Dominic Barton17 January 2011 14:58

    Can you imagine if she was in Ihe Thick Of It, Malcolm would have a field day

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  54. Liz Jones' article is a chillingly misjudged, steaming pila of kaka - that's a given.

    What's worrying on a wider level is that someone, anyone, with a commissioning role on a "newspaper" seeks to validate a worldview solely based on consumer choices (Liz's own and, she self-deludedly assumes, everyone else's by extension).

    It kind of made sense for Liz to be editor of Marie Claire, except that, ultimately, her downfall wasn't speaking out against the size-zero "conspiracy", but the fact that she thought the whole of human existence - not just high-end fashion - was about consumer choices. She still does...

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  55. I learned a lot from Liz's article, the great shopping to be done in Bristol, what restaurants to avoid, and how much money to take with me to get around the city. Was there another point to her article?

    Unfortunately, she is a real person to those thinking she's a Daily Mail satire. I had the displeasure of meeting her once!

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  56. I'm a PR, and last year I had the misfortune to speak to her on the phone - well if you count someone barking questions at you for 10 seconds before saying they need the info 'NOW' and hanging up. So she does exist - which I think is worse than the thought that someone made her up.

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  57. It's finally happened. Liz Jones has become a pastiche of herself. I can much more easily believe that someone hacked the Daily Hate website and stuck that on there than that she was actually paid to write that offensive meaningless filler. Excellent post Jonathen

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  58. Still, it was mighty nice of her to offer a restaurant review, a Bristol touring guide and a philosophical essay, all for the price of one.

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  59. Considering she had to travel from the (in her mind) cultural wastelands of Exmoor (they didn't know about Illy coffee when she first landed there from Planet ME! Me! Me!)

    It (La Jones)did a hatchet job on a Nottingham watering-hole last year. Told them they'd not use photos or names, and liked the place. Sadly these promises failed to make it to the article..

    At least if we read online, we don't actually pay the tax dodging sods..

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  60. First time i've read your blog Jon. For some reason I usually avoid my friends' blogs but this was a good read. Also gives me more ammo to moan about liz jones with as my old one "the cunt brags about never wearing the same outfit twice" was getting a little stale in my normal debating circles.

    Slice.

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  61. i half expected liz jones to give ratings out of 10 or perhaps 3 out of 5 stars for this death; she treated it as if it was a travel review. such a pity she wasnt there 4 weeks earlier, then she could have experienced it all first-hand instead of that "lovely girl" joanna yeates, R.I.P

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  62. Anonymous said...
    I am one of many Bristol folk who have held up others at the Suspension Bridge barriers when not having the correct change, and who hopes we don't lose our old lampposts.


    Funnily enough, areas such as St Andrews have found that their old original lampposts are being torn up and being relocated to areas like Clifton to maintain their gentile feel.

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  63. DM has taken our comments DOWN... wish they'd remove the article as well and publsh an apology to Jo's parents and boyfriend.

    Lew in Clifton, Bristol
    (yes I live two blocks away)

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  64. I wish she would stay away from the South West. We don't want her here! She complains about Bristol, Taunton, Exmoor etc perhaps SHE is the problem NOT us!
    Stupid cow!

    Roger the Shrubber...odd..Illy coffee? She only needs to go to Barnstaple, Lynmouth, Dulverton or Minehead...plenty of shops there!

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  65. For me what sums it up is her horror over the locals wanting better street lighting now- She has no concern about the real situation, she just grabs at any old thing she thinks sounds tragic so we might eventually pity her.. y'know, throw shit at the wall til it sticks. Too bad her idea of tragedy is about a million times more pathetic than the average human being.

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  66. Great post. Why on earth would LJ be given that assignment? The world truly is going mad.
    Love and wishes to Jo's family.

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  67. I am hoping that both Liz Jones and Mary Gold are satiric inventions of the Mail.

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  68. Hemulen, is that true? Wow! I used to live in Redland, right next to Clifton, and you can smell the cultural divide just by crossing Whiteladies Road. I think that's why it's such a shock, and why they sent a low-life 'blue blood' like Loathsome Liz to investigate a crime among the wealthy.....

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  69. Nice one. I know the Mail wants page hits, but really ...

    And does anyone really believe the line with the 'monster' quote?

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  70. Lew in Clifton18 January 2011 18:50

    [i]Anonymous said...
    ... If Liz Jones and the Mail are so awful then why did you all read it? I am one of many Bristol folk who have held up others at the Suspension Bridge barriers when not having the correct change, and who hopes we don't lose our old lampposts.[/i]

    It was posted on Clifton People

    http://www.cliftonpeople.co.uk/groups/joanna-yeates/Liz-Jones-Daily-Mail-writes-Jo-Yeates/story-10556358-detail/story.html

    which some locals follow like me. My comment didn't make the DM and bet many other Clifton residents' comments didn't either. It's not all upmarket you know...there are lots of student accomms as well plus some of us oldies whose properties are cramped and old from the 1950s. Not remodelled yuppie pads.

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  71. Just read your post again and the comments. What struck me was how reasoned and reasonable your writing was. It's so easy to go over the top when you are angry about something and Liz Jones piece was *something*. I believe that the high quality of your blog stands out in sharp contrast to Liz Jones nauseating work. The awful events of that night ending in the awful act of murder are not something I would wish to re-enact or read about as I find it rather ghoulish to do so. I look forward to more posts which I hope you treat the subject in the same calm analytical way.

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  72. Makes you ashamed to be a human being. Well done Liz.

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  73. Liz Jones, Richard Littlejohn, Melanie Phillips, Jan Moir - The Mail loves these nutters writing columns for them, the controversy they create just helps draw millions of hits to their website.

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  74. and don't forget the hypocritical Virginia Ironside.

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  75. Eoin; you're right. I only found out about the Kenneth Tong this via Caitlin Moran too. It's because they're 'trendy' and 'down with the kids'.
    And the Anon who pointed out that Waitrose is actually pretty far from the Wills Building, yes, also right :) I felt like I do when watching Skins and shouting 'no that road doesn't lead there, what are you doing???'

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  76. She used the word "lovely" 6 times in the article. That bothers me a lot.

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  77. She is the very quintessence of cuntishness. Unfortunately, my job involves reading almost everything she writes every other week.

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