Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Pippa Middleton's column hits a bum note with literary diehards

Pippa Middleton
Pippa Middleton
Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton lookalikes Roddy Walker and Hannah Williams in a spoof tour to promote photographer Alison Jackson
Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton lookalikes Roddy Walker and Hannah Williams in a spoof tour to promote photographer Alison Jackson
Philippa, aka Pippa, Middleton, sister of Royal Princess-to-be Kate Middleton

I made a 63-year-old man wince this week and I'm not proud of it. I was chatting to novelist Martin Amis about how much I hated name-droppers when I casually asked him if he'd heard about the newly announced Contributing Editor to that prestigious organ of highbrow investigative and cultural journalism Vanity Fair.

"Pippa Middleton?" The blood drained from his face. "She's going to do a column?" There was pain in his voice. "That is shocking."

Of course Amis' great friend Christopher Hitchens was one of the most celebrated of VF's recent contributing editors and his death is still mourned by readers.

"He would have been horrified," said Amis forlornly.

It's not Pippa's fault – who wouldn't say yes to an offer like that? But her appointment is very depressing.

A page announcing the appointment of the girl who 'stole our hearts' as 'Britain's most famous younger sister' is full of excitable claims about her being a 'keen observer of classic British pastimes' who will delight with her take on 'traditional English pursuits'.

There are quotes from her first dispatch on Wimbledon – she reveals what Roger Federer sometimes has for breakfast and offers a guide to players who are 'easy on the eyes'.

I sometimes find blind sycophancy towards the Royals quite amusing but the idea of Pippa's prissy prose replacing the contributions of that great chronicler of ideas, that racy, rambunctious lover and liver of life Christopher Hitchens, makes me tremble.

"He would have had words," said Amis grimly.

I wish he still could.

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