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Ok I admit it, I have a problem, a serious addiction and try as I might, I can't give it up.
Every morning I say 'today I am not going to do it, I won't be sucked in, I WILL be strong', and before I know it, I have done it, I have clicked on the home page and there I am, scrolling down the side column of shame. If you haven't already guessed (and I'm sure lots of you have!) I am of course referring to *whispers it* the Daily Mail website.
I am a Hackney dwelling, labour voting liberal who reads the Guardian, a proud feminist and supporter of women's rights, I am accepting of other cultures and sexuality and would never ever buy a right wing newspaper. Yet every day despite their hideous underlying (and often very obvious) racist, sexist and xenophobic (and other kind of 'ist' and 'phobic' you care to mention) I just cant resist logging on to read the celebrity gossip side column - sometimes more than once - as it updates several times a day.
I know its wrong and I don't like myself for it, and I have even got the rest of the family doing it. Good God, even MAD and teen son can wax lyrical at the dinner table, about how the cast of TOWIE were hanging out with Peter Andre and Nicola McLean at the Mayfair Hotel last night. Now that is wrong!
Often it's difficult in conversation not to let slip where you got your latest tit bit of sleb gossip from without coming clean about your addiction. But more often that not, unless the person you are talking to is either very very high brow, or has had a celebrity gossip/nosiness gene bypass (therefore is a tiny bit dull), they will know exactly what you are talking about. It seems this is not just my addiction, it's becoming a national epidemic, with the whole country logging on over a sandwich at lunchtime - and don't pretend you're not, cos I've seen you!
Of course once you have logged on and scrolled down, comes the next stage in the addiction, the rage. Usually, I am straight onto Twitter to rant about how many women they have called 'curvy', or the latest outrageous thing Liz Jones has said. The comments on the posts are very indicative of the way the readers have changed over time. When I first began reading, a couple of years ago (yes, thanks Mark!) the comments were very obviously from DM readers agreeing with the 'How come a scrounging obese, single mother of five, gets a council house and £2000 a week in benefits', type features. Now they are all from people like me, who have logged on to wind themselves up and feel compelled to put the right wingers of Britain straight. Personally, I find there is no better cure for PMT than a rant in the comments section of a particularly controversial topic.
This week Jane Fonda has been winding me up - not personally - as she lives in LA - but the posts about how fabulous she looks. Not that she doesn't look great, of course she does, but she is unnaturally thin for a woman her age and has admitted to a life long struggle with eating disorders, and quite frankly no-one wants their grandma to look better than them. As for Marie Helvins distorted face, don't even get me started.
The worst thing is no one makes me read it, I know I can step away at any time and get on with my otherwise mostly productive life, but I just can't. In years to come I think rehab is going to be full of people with modern day addictions such as online shopping, Facebook, Twitter, Call of Duty etc etc. But imagine the shame in group therapy, when I have to stand up and say, 'Hello, my names Jane and I'm addicted to the Daily Mail, side column!