18/12/2000 An Open Letter To The Saily Mail From Brian

Dear Ms Wingett,

Thank you for your congratulations, but I must say Anita and I were quite staggered that in the present circumstances you have actually written to us requesting an interview.

We live in very different worlds, Fiona, so different that it might be hard for you to imagine how much people like us loathe and despise such scurrilous publications as the Daily Mail. When I was a kid, my parents always had the Mail delivered, and I used to regard it as a paper of some integrity, light, but unbiased, with some taste, and some respect for the lives of the people depicted.

Sadly I feel that the Daily Mail now warrants none of those descriptions. In fact to me and many of our friends the paper now ranks right down there with the lowest of the low, with the Sun, the News Of The World, or The People, in it's vicious, prurient and invasive behaviour, and it's relentless and callous destruction of the character of any public figure week after week, in the pursuit of a few more sales of the newspaper.

People like myself just do a job because we think it's what we're good at, and we can bring people some pleasure. Because we're good at it we become well known, but I certainly didn't realise when I started out as a Rock Musician, that with success would come the complete loss of privacy and dignity which the English tabloid press bring about. I did not realise that the price I would pay would be to have scummy paparazzi photographers sneaking around corners to capture an image of me in a relaxed moment, and then see it plastered across some newspaper with a derisive caption, or to have my kids walk out of their front door into a camera lens on their way to school, or come home in tears because someone at school had read some lies about their daddy in a paper, and made life Hell for them.

You may actually be a nice person, Ms Wingett, in many ways, but surely you must realise that the photographs of us on our honeymoon which appeared in your newspaper were taken against our wishes, and utterly ruined our attempts to have a few moments of privacy in a far-away romantic place. It must be obvious to you that we did everything we could to have a private wedding, unsullied by any press presence, but you people pay spies everywhere, and of course some scumbag leaked the information. We actually managed to keep all the invaders away just long enough to have our ceremony in complete privacy, but only thanks to some good friends acting as security, and decoys, and a human screen to keep the bastards out.

I really wish you could imagine what it felt like for us to escape to Venice, a favourite sanctuary for us, with nice Italian people around who treat us like normal people, but people they like and respect. I wish you could imagine what it felt like to be having a private moment on a gondola, and suddenly to be looking down the lens of a "professional", the low-life paparazzi (English) hired by your newspaper to track us down. Just so you know, it actually WASN'T raining - we only had an umbrella up because the gondolier gave it to us, to protect us from the photographer, because he felt sorry for us. I wish you could feel my anger as our private moment was transformed into an ugly chase, the scumbag having hired a water-taxi to follow us, so there was no escape. From that moment on, the magic of our honeymoon was over - we couldn't take a step without wondering if there was a telephoto lens aimed at us.

So, of course, a couple of days later we wake up to the news that "our honeymoon photos" are in the Daily Mail. Yes, sure enough, there are the expected miserable, poor quality snaps of us in our gondola - looking angry and sad - so different from the way we must have looked before the parasite turned up. Of course we look upset - not because of the weather - but because, of course, we were now feeling utterly violated. And sure enough - there is the cutesy caption with the cheap pun, there is the article with the load of guessed and made-up "facts" about us, including reference to what the English press thinks is our past. And of course, as always, there's no point in us denying these things or suing you for libel - it would only give you more opportunity to sell copies with more discussion about us - it would only fuel your dirty trade.

No, we did NOT want you to spy on us. No, we do NOT relish being "celebrities", a word which now makes my stomach heave. We would just like the privilege of having, like normal people, a shred of privacy, at least for the 3 days of our lives when we were on honeymoon. But you couldn't gibe us that, could you?

May be you feel you are a decent person, Ms Wingett, but surely, having risen to the lofty heights of "Senior Feature Writer" you must realise that the correct, professional way to approach an artist for an interview is through their management or agent, or press office - that's what they're there for. But you chose to send someone round to our private house knocking on our door. Even having your letter in the house makes us feel dirty.

I'm sorry, Fiona, until the Mail changes it's policies, and finds some decency and conscience, we will not be considering talking to you. This is as close as I'd ever like to get. Still, maybe you can print this letter instead, without cutting out all the embarrassing bits, if our editor has the guts. Somehow I doubt it.

Good luck Fiona, and I hope you get a decent job some day.