Dominic Browne presents a step-by-step guide to writing a Richard Littlejohn Daily Mail column.
Richard Littlejohn is back to his best this morning with this culturally sensitive piece on the Japanese earthquake, deciding this is the time to discuss the difficult issues of race in Japanese society and the legacy of World War 2.
For those of you who have always wanted to know how he does it, here is a step-by-step guide to writing a Littlejohn column – a long overdue and essential public resource we are sure you’ll agree.
1. Always start with a caveat
You are about to write a collection of words that to any inattentive reader might seem racist, sexist, or just plain stomach-churningly insensitive. It is important that you let them know that this is not the case and any offence they feel is entirely their fault.
Here are a few Littlejohn wrote earlier:
“No one with a shred of humanity can fail to be moved by some of the pictures coming out of Japan” – March 22nd, 2011
“A man in a wheelchair is as entitled to demonstrate as anyone else” – December 14th, 2010
“Let’s get the caveat out of the way from the off. The five women murdered in Ipswich were tragic, lost souls who met a grisly end” – December 18th, 2006
2. Pick the most sensitive topic, raise it at the most insensitive time, and make sure you kick the victims
Few will be able to do this as well as the master himself. Who else would have thought that now, as the death toll from the Japanese disaster passes into the tens of thousands, was the best time to discuss problematic parts of the country’s history and culture? Who else would have thought that shortly after the muder of five women who worked as prostitutes in Ipswich in 2006, it was the appropriate time to state baldly:
“In their chosen field of ‘work’ death by strangulation is an occupational hazard.”
3. Simplify any complex issues and social, cultural, economic factors to the most crude and nasty soundbites you can
You may find that using readymade stereotypes and dragging up history will help you in this regard. Now is the time that you’re glad you put in the caveat at the beginning; because otherwise calling the Japanese “militantly racist” or murder victims “disgusting, drug-addled street whores” or a man in a wheelchair “like Andy from Little Britain” might make you look a bit ignorant and/or desperately bigoted and hateful.
4. Let your sub-editors, picture researchers and cartoonists do their very worst
Now that you have written your copy there is no cause to hold back with the presentation, so don’t let those pesky subs interfere with your genius. If you are writing a piece on Japan for instance, make sure they juxtapose images of post-tsunami devastation with pictures of starving Prisoners of War from World War 2.
Caption them with lines like:
“The images from Japan might be horrific, but do they really warrant such highly publicised hand-wringing?”
Or, after a disabled man has been pulled from his wheelchair by police during a march to protect students from massive fee rises, why not let your cartoonist crudely caricature/stereotype all disabled people with a comparison with a Little Britain character, after all you did.
Again caption this as crudely as possible:
“Don’t like it: Wheelchair-bound Jody McIntyre was wrong to complain about being mistreated at the student protests.”
Now you are ready to file. You won’t have long to wait to find inspiration as people are suffering all over the world just waiting for you to point out that it’s all their fault, or they shouldn’t complain, or that their grandfather did something nasty. You just couldn’t make it up.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.