READING Diaries of a Fleet Street Fox was like watching my first episode of Dr Who – through parted fingers with my mouth wide open.
And like that Dr Who moment, I really didn’t want to see what was going to happen next, but couldn’t stop looking.
The book works on two levels. It is a brutally frank account of the collapse of a media marriage and a deserted wife’s journey from mental breakdown to recovery along a tightrope of despair, anger, violence, casual sex, drunkenness, self-discovery and eventually acceptance and rebirth.
But the author – former Sunday Mirror reporter and celebrated blogger Susie Boniface – brings sympathy and depth to her plight as she reveals her weaknesses, her failings and her fears with as much toe-curling frankness as she pours bile and spite over ex “Twatface” and his new lover “Fatty”.
The backdrop to this provides rich colour and drama and is the fascinating tapestry which is Fleet Street. Tabloid characters abound and are as vivid as any you will read in Waugh’s Scoop. But darker. Characters like ‘Bish’, ‘Cubby’ and ‘Fifi’ appear vaguely Wodehousian. But it’s Wodehouse with a gin and mogadon hangover – just as funny but with the jolliness replaced by a seedy, gritty gloom.
The characters are all given pseudonyms. But they are as real and as accurate as any I have met, even Susie herself. Every Fleet Street newsroom seems to have a Susie. A brilliant, hard grafting, hard playing, hard nosed female hack. A star in the newsroom but always struggling with a chaotic personal life. Normally they are as plain as a pikestaff with slightly over-refreshed cheeks, although Fleet Street Fox cuts a more glamorous figure.
Susie, or ‘Foxy’ as she is known, is a gifted writer. Her blog pulls in 25,000 readers a week and her style is pacy, observational and acerbic. It’s a superb read from cover to cover. I picked it up at 9am and didn’t put it down until I finished in the afternoon.
I even missed lunch.
Which as Foxy will tell you, in Fleet Street, is unheard of.
Susie Boniface AKA Fleet Street Fox
The Fleet Street Fox blog can be read here
Neville Thurlbeck is the founder of TalentGB, an on-line directory of showreels of artistes of every genre