Ashley Perks reviews the highly anticipated Diaries of “Fleet Street Fox”.
As now infamous tabloid journalist, Susie Boniface’s (aka @fleetstreetfox ), marriage crashes and, later, burns, ‘Foxy’ – as she is affectionately known – comes to terms with the implications, not only for her personal life, but also for her professional predicament as one of Fleet Street’s finest in a world that now puts journalists in the same sack as drug dealers, Estate Agents, paedophiles and politicians – and mentally drowns them in the North Sea – we are treated to a painful, often ironically amusing account of the implosion of a media-centred marital melt-down.
Much pre-hyped on Twitter by the cuckolded vixen herself, The Diaries of a Fleet Street Fox narrates the descent into the underworld of lawyers, lovers and legal loop-holes that is divorce, as well as the shock-waves that reverberate through her tumultuous work-place relationships and social circle.
Delayed while lawyers combed every sentence for words, unspoken but inferred libellous implications or just plain verbal violence, the book finally made it onto our bookshelves (or at least an Amazon warehouse) for us to see what all the fuss was about. For those hoping for an outright dishing-of-the-dirt on the feral pack that is a tabloid newsroom, there will be disappointment: we don’t get to know who Newspaper executive ‘Twatface’ (her charming moniker for the ex) actually is; farcical titles are given to UK newspapers referred to and all the other protagonists’ nick-names read like up-dated Wodehouse characters.
Mercifully missing, however, are Julie Burchill type pages of self-delusion, self-promotion and the generally utter disdain for all humanity not herself, and with a driving confessional narrative that shines, if not exactly sparkles, in a Caitlin Moranesque way, so there is much to enjoy in this acerbic account of a girl’s shattered dreams. Marriage-to-mania-to-divorce; worries about job-security; the exposure of false friends and familiar foibles; the frightening prospect of being single and insolvent, all are uncovered, layer by layer, and as with an onion, the sharpness can be lachrymatory but there is (often bitter) humour:
“Marriage certificates have a coat of arms on them, and writing in proper fountain pen, and cost thousands of pounds and a year to organize, and require mothers to be kept happy , and lots and lots of shopping trips, and a photo album that makes you feel all warm, and an anniversary which later turns out to be the time all year you have sex. Decree nisis, on the other hand, are matter-of-fact forms run off by the court on an inkjet printer, which tell you that all that is over, and was such a waste of time and money that you’d have been better off digging a hole in the ground, covering yourself with a duvet and hibernating for the whole five years of the relationship.”
Lots of insights, then, a suggestion of insider gossip and a quite cathartic account of a woman’s journey from naivety – via a police cell and a messy, wall-punching divorce process – to the valedictory and valiant launching of her marital memories away off to Valhalla, this book will entertain more than it educates while poignantly pointing out the bleeding obvious!
The Diaries of a Fleet Street Fox, is published by Constable, 2013, and available via all the usual outlets and also as an ebook.
Reddit this article ↓