So embarrassing is The Observer's Jasper Gerard - lame doesn't even begin to describe his weekly column - that the paper appears to have removed the reader comment facility. Perhaps it's a technical fault or wishful thinking on my part, let me know: but I see fellow columnists Mary Riddell and Andrew Rawnsley have provoked published intelligent responses this wet, windy morning.
It's one thing to be witty but foolish (eg the late Auberon Waugh), or eloquently provocative but wrong-headed (eg Christopher Hitchens). One can write like an angel and yet be fundamentally clownish (eg AA Gill, et many al). But it's entirely another matter when a writer is incapable not only of forming intelligible ideas but also of finding the appropriate tone and correct arrangement of words through which to express his mental slurry. Jasper simply has nothing to say and can't even find the words to say he has nothing to say.
Today he confects an anti-monarchist burble out of Helen Mirren's whimsical and graceful Oscar thankyou speech in which she jokily suggested that the Academy's judges had voted for "Brenda" rather than the Dame. Why shouldn't the British people have a similar vote to decide the monarchy's future? he asks, seriously. This could work as absurdist humour if he struck the right satirical note: but satire is quite beyond the skills of Jasper's sausage-fingers. He employs words such as "paradox", "oleaginous" and "resonates" to hit his target audience self-estimation, but forgets to employ an argument that is not essentially non sequiturial. It's as if Gerard thinks he can turn crinoline into silk by sewing word pearls into the fabric.
Or put in stark terms, what exactly is the connection between a royalist jest in LA, an Academy vote for a movie performance and a non-issue in the UK about the future of the monarchy via a movie called The Queen? Only possible answer - personal. Rupert Murdoch, Jasper's last employer, is a republican: is Jasper's Observer column some sad extended job application to return to Wapping now that the current gig is such a transparent disaster?
Read him for yourself - click here.