‘The sun rose, having no alternative, on the nothing new.’
Thus begins Samuel Beckett’s early novel Murphy, and thus begun this morning.
Although, to be fair, Surf Europe was now in the headlines of the Sun, one of Britain’s biggest national newspapers, and that was sort of new — even if it wasn’t really news.
For the benefit of non-British readers, The Sun is a Murdoch-owned rag famous for its sensitive, nuanced front-page headlines (‘Gotcha’, following the sinking of the General Belgrano, which led to the deaths of over 300 'Argies') and its rigorous approach to factual accuracy (the paper once falsely claimed, this time under the headline ‘The Truth’, that Liverpool fans picked pockets of the victims and urinated on policemen in the aftermath of the Hillsborough disaster).
Not only did the story appear in the The Sun, even fierce rival The Mirror picked up on the moral outrage.
Truly we are honoured to appear in such a distinguished publication as The Sun! Honoured to join the ranks of Hollie from Manchester, Hattie from Camberwell, Becky (“concerned by the prospect of electoral reform in a hung parliament") from High Wycombe, Keelie (“shocked to learn so many immigrants have come to the UK") from Newcastle, etc. Alas, we did not make it onto Page 3 — that venerable institution, recently discontinued, on which a bare-breasted young lady would hold forth on the big issues of the day — but still.
‘BUM NOTE,’ shouted the Sun yesterday. ‘Surf Europe slammed for offering female customers a free holiday — if they send in pictures of their bottoms.’ They were referring, presumably, to a video posted on the SE Facebook almost a month ago, accompanied by the caption: ‘Good story, your favourite Russian surf camp in Sri Lanka, is running a comp to win a free trip there, by uploading your backside. Good luck.’
In fact, Surf Europe itself made no offer to anybody — and the phrase ‘your favourite Russian surf camp in Sri Lanka’ may provide a hint as to the ironic spirit in which the video was shared -- but let’s not split bum hairs.
‘A number of people have voiced their concerns about the advert on Facebook,’ continues the article. After quoting a number of angry Facebook comments, it proceeds to pontificate about a painting hung in the coffee shops of a high-street chain, which customers had accused of celebrating cat-calling. Meanwhile a naked Lily James looks out from the sidebar (‘Lily James strips off NAKED for raunchy sex scenes in new WWII drama’), beneath an almost naked Myleene Klass (‘Myleene Klass strips off to nothing but an Arsenal scarf before quickly deleting the sexy snap’) and a bikini-clad Kim Kardashian whose bum is apparently no longer up to standard (‘GONE TO BOT? Kim Kardashian fans lash out at reality star on social media as they feel ‘misled’ by her pictures’). Bum note? This was a cackophony.
Commenters were less than impressed by the Sun’s cheap stunt. 'Wow,’ wrote Rosey, ‘there's ATROSITIES happening all over the world and the Sun puts in this story of stupid females flashing their arses classy EH sun.’ Sun slammed by own readers!
And how’s the view from up there? The best thing, of course, about sitting on such a high horse is that you can see right down the tops of the passing totty. A few days before our ‘offer’, and a month before the Sun’s resultant outrage, the Sun launched its ‘annual cleavage contest’, Bust in Britain, which offers female customers £1000 if they send in pictures of their breasts.
In the continued absence of anything new, the story then appeared, practically unchanged, on the Mirror — another bastion of probity — though they at least they had the decency to contact us for a quote, even if they didn’t publish it. No such courtesy from the Sun.
Will they admit to their error? Make a clean breast of it? We’d settle for a link to the Surf Europe website, preferably to this article, but we shan’t hold our breath. There’s nothing new under the sun -- and there's certainly no news in it.