In this column Caitlin Moran writes about her discovery that columnists exist for mad people to write letters to once they’ve finished writing to newsreaders. Read the whole column on Times Online.
When I was 18, I grandly believed that, in exchange for the cost of a newspaper, a columnist should provide some useful or diverting opinion that the reader could, if they so wished, drunkenly pass off as their own in the pub that night. It’s certainly what I used to do with Katie Boyle’s agony column in the TV Times.
However, as, over the years, I’ve resolutely failed to achieve this, even once, I’ve now retrospectively become far more unambitious about the whole affair, and boiled the raison d’être of the columnist down to this: they exist for mad people to write letters to, once they’ve finished writing mad letters to local newsreaders.
Obviously not all the letters I get are mad: some of them are absolutely delightful. Kind, courteous people who just liked, or were puzzled by, something I said, and simply wanted to send a note marking the fact. That these people almost invariably have lovely handwriting and beautiful notepaper only drives home that, in many instances, a column in a newspaper can work by way of bringing like-minded and civilised people together. Sometimes, a column is like a party to which everyone is invited.
But then there are, of course, unavoidably, the mentalists. The Curly Wurly thinkers. Apostles from the Church of Woo Woo. I collect the really outstanding ones in what I respectfully refer to as “The Nutter Box”, and as I leaf through it I can see the whole span of the human condition, every permutation of communication, and a lot of fonts from mid-90s daisywheel printers that you just don’t see any more.