They say it takes two to tango, but you can have a Twitter war all by yourself, as I found out this week when none other than the lovely Lily Allen came over all Bottish at some throwaway remark of mine comparing her unfavourably to Cheryl Cole.
Yes, between baking cakes, milking publicity — sorry, cows — and making television documentaries/doing interviews about how she's turned her back on fame, Miss Antoinette found the time to Twitter that I was ‘an ignorant and bitter old troll’ ... the amateur psychiatrist in me says sees a lot of her younger self in me and she's a bit of a “self-loather”.
She also spelt my name wrong and I can say hand on heart that that's the only thing that hurt.
I guess the reason it rolled off me so slickly is that being called self-loathing by Lily Allen is an achievement akin to being called fat by Dawn French.
Still, it could have been worse. The last time I compared Lily unfavourably to Chezza, she got her mum on to me. Yes, some three years ago I was the amazed recipient of a long, rather sweet e-mail from the film producer Alison Owen in defence of her daughter.
I've got to say, there's a bit of a culture gap here — where I was educated you made damn sure your mother never came up the school to stand up for you once you were out of Mixed Infants — but they obviously do things differently at Bedales.
Anyway, sniggering aside, it was a lovely letter which I won't quote from here as I respect Miss Owen's ownership of her correspondence, but the gist was that Lily and her mummy had always liked me, but now I'd been nasty to Lils they didn't.
But I own the rights over my words, so I'm reprinting, in part, my reply as it's one of the most spot-on things I've ever written:
When we first make a choice — as your daughter did — to enter public life, there is a lesson above all which we must quickly learn if we are not to appear stupid.
Sadly, it is a lesson of commonsense and thus one which a public-school education cannot buy. And that lesson is, ‘If you dish it out, you must take it.’
If we cannot absorb this childish-sounding, but actually very intellectually rigourous piece of information quickly, we risk looking like, at least, cry-babies and at worst, filthy hypocrites.
You say that the Cheryl Cole comment was a long time ago. When, pray, was the following statement of your daughter's, in ‘retaliation’ to being called ‘middle-class’ in a satirical song?
“So what if w'ere [sic] middle class? Just cause your mum was too lazy to get her fat ass up off the sofa and make some cash, I shouldn't be able to make tunes yeah?” It was last month.
This week it came to light that a baby born in working-class Glasgow will live 28 years less, on average, than one born in a middle-class area. Is this because those babies’ mums are, to quote your daughter, too lazy to get their fat asses up off the sofa and make some cash?
What do they teach children at those public schools? Something called ‘social racism’, I fear. Do you really believe that this filthy prejudice against the poor should be allowed to pass without criticism? Of course you do — you're her mum. But I am not. I am a professional journalist. And if I see someone who has found fame and fortune partly by posing as ‘street’ saying this, I am going to call them on it.
PS ‘Never explain, never complain’ — that's another good one.
Writing this, I've realised that, though she may now loathe me, I really do have a soft spot for Lily Allen. Her contradictions and cantankerousness are the stuff legends are made of. Lily, you are a young, beautiful, talented artist with your whole life in front of you. I am an old, fat hack with my triumphs behind me.
But, if you go through life taking notice of what people like me say about you, you will never be one-tenth as happy as I am now in my porky dog-days.
Get over it — and good luck.