A couple have separated. The husband claims to have been arrested a couple of times. The end.
Hardly what you'd call a sparkling story, is it? Then why is it even being covered by our friends at the Mail?
It seems the only reason is that they're employed by the BBC. It's a type of story you see every now and then and which strikes this reader as being particularly pointless. The Mail likes to blether on about all kinds of minor celebrities, of course, and journalists (not just BBC ones, to be fair) when they get into scrapes appear to fall within that category for the purposes of news ballast - but really. Who gives a fuck about these two people?
The estranged husband of BBC arts correspondent Razia Iqbal has boasted of being arrested three times in two weeks during a series of bitter messages on Twitter.
George Arney, host of The World Today bulletin on the World Service, has also used the social networking site to describe Ms Iqbal as his 'witchy ex-wife' and the 'Punjabi controller'.
Interesting hierarchical considerations in both the headline and story - George Arney only merits the description of 'husband' because his role as an international broadcaster (on radio) is deemed less important than Razi Iqbal's role as BBC TV reporter. So it's nice to know that it's not just women the Mail can obliterate into the role of 'spouse' when it's their other half that we should apparently really be interested in reading about.
But the story takes a decisive turn for the banal when it reports:
Not all of Mr Arney's tweets have been about his estrangement from Ms Iqbal. On November 10, at 9.42pm, he was concentrating on work-related matters and wrote: 'Just listened to very illuminating interview with Ecuador's splendid pro-people president, conducted by the ever-excellent Fergus Nicholl.'
BUT WHAT DID HE HAVE FOR LUNCH? AND WHEN DID HE GO FOR A SHIT? I MUST KNOW THESE THINGS.
It's a disappointing type of journalism, miserable and tedious, reminiscent of an old tramp scrabbling round in the bins and emerging triumphant with a half-eaten kebab with a fag stubbed out in it. Is this what Twitter has become - a dredging ground for crap journalists to harvest boring gossip about people you've hardly even heard about, who aren't being exposed as hypocrites or liars but just people who have relatively normal lives? Who gives a crap about all this? And what's the point of this tragic little bit of bathos?
A spokesman for the BBC refused to comment.
Of course a spokesman for the BBC refused to comment. What the fuck did you think anyone was going to say about this? Was an official spokesman really going to come out and say: "Actually, isn't it? Ooh. The cow! And he's no better! I mean, really..." or even "We deplore people having private lives and would prefer it if every single pitiful ruddy detail of everything they ever did was reported to the wider world, like anyone even cares." Or maybe they were hoping for "Yes, we've sacked them both. Bastards. How dare they do this, whatever it is that they're supposed to have done, either of them."
So in one sense it's a pointless journo story, not of any interest to anyone other than fellow pros - and even then I should imagine it's fairly tedious. In another, there's a whiff of the anti-BBC agenda, though I probably wouldn't make too much of that in this instance. And in another, you could see it as exactly the kind of waste of time and money the Mail so often rails against. What if that BBC spokesman had to be contacted out of hours, for example, costing the Beeb - and us - valuable overtime? I do hope the Tax Payers Alliance have been informed.
*Addendum* I can understand the accusation, if it's brought out here, that by posting about something so pointless, I'm being as - if not more - pointless by doing so. I don't really have a defence to that, except to say that I hope at the very least I don't give any trace of legitimisation to this kind of pointlessness by being pointless myself. Not that that counts for anything anyway. But I just wanted you to know, yes, I had thought that myself. And rejected it and thought, no fuck it, I'll write about it anyway.