After just reading through the comments on the Daily Mail piece in which I featured today, I feel the need to defend myself.
Most of my defence rests on this: I didn’t actually say any of the unpleasant things I was accused of having said. Which is to say, I was heavily misquoted or, when things I was alleged to have said actually bore some relation to what I did say, they were taken entirely out of context.
For example, the account of the speed date is entirely fictitious. We didn’t talk about that at all. Rather it’s a fake conversation based on a much longer, much more detailed description of what actually happened which I blogged about here, here and here.
The vast majority of the nasty reaction in the comments, however, centres on this excerpt:
‘I know being critical and superficial must sound terrible when I'm so ugly myself,' he admits. 'But I fancy dark women with black hair, black eyes and olive skin. I went to Italy for the first time recently and it was like landing in Paradise. I would love to live there - or, in fact, in any country where women are less pasty than in Britain.'
Jesus. What an absolute arsehole I would be if I had said that, apropos of nothing. In reality, what happened was this: during the interview I was asked if I had ‘a type’. I said that I did, yes, but I could see that admitting that was tantamount to saying ‘I find some women attractive and some women unattractive’, and that this could make me sound rather superficial and hypocritical, because how dare an unattractive man find some women unattractive? I went on to say that some of the women I found unattractive were women who were commonly accepted as being beautiful – women like Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson. I think I also mentioned Jordan. I certainly meant to. I made a point of pointing out that a person’s personality makes all the difference, and if a conventionally 'beautiful' person has an 'ugly' personality, then it's that personality shines through.
I guess I should really have known I was being set up.
Oh, and I never said that women in Britain were ‘pasty’. What I actually said – in response to a question about whether or not I was seeing anyone at the moment – was that women in the North East of England – where I’m living at the moment – are ‘pasty’ and ‘white’. To be more specific, I talked about how the vast majority of the people in the North East seem to have been born and bred in the North East and I talked about how that’s almost entirely the opposite in London, where almost everyone you meet is from somewhere else. I talked about the women in London being from all over the world and about how I enjoyed and was excited by that diversity.
But there you go. I knew the risks when I agreed to the interview. The Daily Mail is a tabloid newspaper and that’s what tabloid newspapers do. They distort the facts. They conflate, misquote and when things don’t quite fit with their remit, they invent. And I can’t really blame the commenters either, because despite the fact that everyone knows this, everyone seems to forget it. You read a quote and you assume it’s an accurate reflection of the subject’s personality. And if that personality comes across as rather unpleasant, you react, usually without pausing to wonder if what you're reading is true or not. I’ve done it myself.
Having said that, Sandy in London? Go fuck yourself.
Oh, and I'm on GMTV on Wednesday morning. PLEASE DO NOT WATCH ME.