I decided, a few months ago, that it would take something truly outrageous to make me give any more press to unhappy professional oversharer and exhibitionist Liz Jones. This is what did it:
Liz Jones is starting to make me uncomfortable. I mean, more so than usual. And in different ways. I can sum up her latest screed in one line: She hates rich women.
Although Jones, a former Marie Claire editor and owner of a farm, is not what anyone would call destitute, she's a far cry from the posh women she lambasts. In some ways, this class-rage is typically British; in America, despite our yawning inequalities, we simply don't have millennia enough to build up the same caliber of inherited resentment - and even our "oldest" and richest families are mere parvenus by Euro standards. In England, the posh are as 50s suburbia is to us - universally and tacitly reviled, even by those who come of it and try to distance themselves via self-loathing. So in that way, regard it as an interesting window into enduring cultural implacability. In every other way, regard it as madness, and back away slowly.
Jones hates posh women even more than she hates mothers. She hates their beauty. And their gap years. And "the fact they have so many friends." She hates their vacations. She hates their tans. And, oh yes, their "filth."
I once went to a party at a posh woman's house on Exmoor. It was freezing (they only lived there at weekends, so the heating never had time to crank up) and filthy - there were mouse droppings on every pillow. Their awful posh children were milling about on long limbs, tossing honeyed locks and seeping privilege instead of sebum from every tiny pore. I wish I, too, partook in blood sports so I could put a bullet through the space where their brain should be.
Charming. Time was, Liz Jones could work in the occasional reasonable opinion. But in the last year especially - and even more so since she published her memoir - she's become a byword for overexposure and instability. In recent weeks, her scathing dismissal of her country neighbors has apparently resulted in some serious criminal harassment - including someone shooting up her mailbox - and having by her own blithe account long-since alienated friends and family through her lack of discretion, Jones must be alone indeed. She's long-since ceased to speak for anyone other than herself, and she's long-since established herself as nuts. However much of it is purely exhibition, she seems to have blurred the line beyond what's healthy, and reading her nowadays is more voyeuristic than anything - which is why, having said this, I don't think I can cover her antics any longer. While it's hard to feel generous towards someone so consistently bilious, it's easy to feel pity, and I think we all should - however fascinating her ongoing performance piece might be. This is not Howard Beale speaking truth to power in his madness; this is someone looking at a perfectly well-dressed emperor and declaring triumphantly that he's naked. But I'm starting to feel like the Network parallel isn't that far off, like we're watching human pain play out publicly, in slow motion. Maybe that's melodramatic - and that's obviously how Jones makes a very good living - but I just hope Jones realizes there are other options, and it's really not too late. And, as her eds at the Fail can tell her, redemption's the best copy of all.