Being an atheist, I'm not exactly familiar with the actual wording of the line in the Bible about a sinner repenting. However, it came to mind when I was alerted to a piece in today's Daily Mirror by Jonathan Margolis. Name ring any bells? Nope? Let me explain.
Margolis was commissioned to write a feature piece for the Sunday Times in 1993 on the city of Liverpool in the weeks after the murder of James Bulger. However, it was the article's headline rather than its specific content which caused controversy:
"Self Pity City".
The title has morphed into a phrase which has become a shorthand dismissal of Merseyside, & a jibe to be thrown at Scousers. Coming just four years after Hillsborough & the Sun's lies, its effect locally was incendiary. That another Murdoch paper should come up with the headline was also noted.
Margolis has always claimed that he wasn't responsible for the headline. That's true. Journalists don't normally compose a title for their articles, that's the job of the sub editor. The sub editor in question was Simon Heffer, the same Simon Heffer who penned the Spectator editorial on Liverpool & its people in the wake of Ken Bigley's murder in 2004, as a result of which then Tory leader Michael Howard ordered the magazine's editor, Boris "buffoon" Johnson, to make an aplologetic (&, quite frankly, pathetic) trip up here.
Be that as it may, Margolis comes across as a zealous convert to a cult:
Take this eruption of exultation:
"To be honest, all the stuff I'd read about urban regeneration and the fact that Liverpool had been crowned European Capital of Culture 2008 sounded like so much boring official-ese.
"But what I discovered here is utterly stunning. Trust me, they're building one of the modern wonders of the world beside that grey, choppy old Mersey.
"So much for Self Pity City, for shellsuits, for 'calm down, calm down' and jokes about Scousers nicking your hubcaps. What's happening here is real.
"And it's going to take the world by surprise."
Steady on, Jonathan! Any more of that purple prose & you'll be headhunted by the Culture Company!