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Saturday, June 23, 2007 

Please sir, can we have some more?

There's a few things I think we could all agree we need more of. Social networking sites, for instance. Indie-rock bands basing themselves around the Libertines. Valedictory TV programmes and newspaper articles looking back over Blair's 10 years. Lawyers. No win no fee firms. Hideously tattooed, mouthy female singers. Adverts where those who've sold their soul to appear in them suddenly break into song for no apparent reason. Blogs. Hollywood sequels. Suicide bombings. Books on how all religion is evil.

Out of all of those, there's one I missed out that is perhaps a little too obvious. Ten years after her death, there just simply haven't been enough books written about Princess Diana. No one has so much as charted her short, tragic, some would say holy life in complete, minute detail. We haven't found out which vibrator she used, that she sometimes went naked except for a fur coat, how she struggled with bulimia or that she hated that disfigured horse-faced cunt Camilla.

Thank Enya then for Tina Brown, who not only had the brilliant, original idea of writing such a book, but who has also produced one of the finest social histories, not just of this generation, but of any generation. The Diana Chronicles is a tour de force, a magnum opus, a truly wonderful achievement from a modest, beautiful, stunningly witty woman which will soon being taught on the Diana bachelor degree courses as the foremost set text. A wonderful example of just how fresh, exciting and completely honest Brown's portrayal of the undead Princess is has been provided by the current issue of Private Eye:


Brown's book is of course not just another vulture picking the very last, tiny scraps of pink flesh from Diana's corpse. It's a sexed-up, all revelatory biography to end all biographies, as Catherine Bennett's review of it shows.

With the princes' celebratory commemoration in the form of a music concert fast approaching, it's hard not to come to the conclusion that rather than being dead, Diana, like Elvis, Tupac, James Dean, Kurt Cobain and Marilyn, and perhaps Pete Doherty when he inevitably takes that one dose of skag too many, is going to be with us until the end of time. She's a license to print money, to pretend that you know what you're talking about when you're called on to comment on the celebrity culture, and like Marilyn, she's never going to get old. Her tits are never going to sag, her forehead isn't going to get wrinkled, her hair isn't going to turn to the colour which most resembled her existence that has since been painted any colour but, gray. She will be forever beautiful and young, while the rest of us will decay, wilt and shrink.

Andrew Roberts, when talking about Brown's book on Newsnight Review, was adulatory in praise, describing it as perhaps the first revisionist account of her life, but that's probably because he gets mentioned and because he quite obviously fancies her. He raised the all important point though: like those incessant books about Hitler and whether he really did authorise the Holocaust or just went along with it once it had been decided upon by others, we've got the rest of our lifetimes to look forward to this modern-day celebrity dictator being written about and eulogised and condemned over and over and over again. Or at least until someone assassinates Paris Hilton.

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