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Monday, March 29, 2004
The last of Belle de Jour

This is my last will and testament... Well, actually, it's not but it's my final comment on 'Belle de Jour' for the moment. Speculation has been rife about the identity of this 'person' (team?) but I think that Cynthia Payne, a renowned madam from yesteryear, provides the penultimate analysis. In an article in last Thursday's Grauniad, (read it in full here) she says
...this doesn't sound like anything I have ever come across...
She then looks at several entries in detail. Curiously, while not making a point of reading the lass (Belle) regularly, I had read one of the entries to which the perspicacious Cynthia refers and had reservations myself.

Our analytical madam says that sample bits of writing don't ring true. Whether they do or not, I leave to the good Cynth: I find myself at something of a very fortunate disadvantage, never having visited a brothel, bordello, massage parlour or porno show. However, in having read the extracts, they did strike me as having a great deal in common with porno spam emails that I have inadvertently opened. Talking about having 'cum' all over the place seems to be a favourite line with porno merchants. Anyway, please read the article yourself, Mrs T., and decide.

What worries me the most in all this is that the Grauniad, in many respects an admirable publication, should have been so enamoured of a blog with overt pornographic content. I wonder if the judges were all, or predominately, male. Whatever and whoever they are, they are clearly not aware that 'Sex is not a spectator sport' (© Josh). As well as having no inclination to watch sex, I have never, even during my first century of life on the planet, been able to understand the lure of literary (or even literate) pornography, either.

So, with those strictures in mind, it is clear that a team of pornographers, actual or potential - perhaps a group of talented scriptwriters wanting some excitement - writes ‘Belle’. They are hoping to appeal to male readers' baser fantasies while simultaneously taking the prissy Grauniad for a ride. How well they have succeeded!

Belle's a bit like one of these spoofs designed to make people look in the mirror and wonder about their ability to make good judgements. One has only to think of Sokal's magnificent tilt at cultural relativism and lack of academic rigour to think that Belle has got to be a joke of some sort. The most memorable and closest hoax I can think of is the founding in the USA (where else?) of the 'Society for Indecency to Naked Animals'. This group wanted all domestic, zoo, and farm animals to be suitably clothed in public so that children and those of a sensitive disposition would not be affronted.

The group achieved quite a large following. After an extended period, the founders came clean: the whole enterprise was designed to ridicule the censorious. In Belle's case, it's not clear who's being ridiculed. The judges, porno-lovers, Grauniad readers. Perhaps the lot.

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