Journalists were once again forced to manufacture outrage today over some P-list celebrity who no one much liked anyway taking some drug that their readers either don't know anything about or do know about but quite like a bit of every now and then.
"It gets a bit wearing after a while," said Jeremy Thornton, a reporter with the Evening Sun. "So-and-so has been caught - or sometimes admitted to taking if they need a bit of extra publicity - X or Y drug, and this is very bad of them, and we all disapprove heartily and just think of the example it sets to the children. But really it all seems a bit pointless after the hundredth time you've done it, like having a wank just because Fiona Bruce is the newsreader that day. It's enough to make you take to drugs."
After decades of such stories being a staple of papers that think real news is too complicated for their readers, a malaise has taken hold across the whole of Fleet Street. A harassed editor who didn't wish to be named explained: "Journalists these days go to great lengths to pass the writing of these 'exposes' on to someone else - you know, going to the toilet just when you're looking for them, pretending to have Myxamitosis, whatever. I can't say I blame them - the stories are so formulaic you fall asleep writing them - but for god's sake that's what we pay them for."
Rumours suggest that last time a 'Half-famous-idiot-takes-evil-stuff' story came up at the Daily Express, most of the journalists pretended to be working on an important expose of the social attitudes of British troops in Afghanistan. "That Afghan story never appeared," admitted one of the journalists involved. "Or not in our paper. But really, who wants to write these stories? It's a complete nightmare when you're on a comedown I can tell you."
The outraged exposes nonetheless continue to appear in papers. "It's impressive when you think about it," said one commentator. "A real credit to the persistence of Fleet Street editors in rousing their journalists to give the old formula one more whirl before they all expire from exhaustion and self-loathing."