I turned to the Little Black Book section, which turned out to be an authoritative A-Z of overprivileged arseholes (most of them still in their early 20s), plus the occasional celeb, rated and compiled by the single biggest group of wankers in the universe. You're supposed to want to sleep with these people, and the text attempts to explain why. It's the ultimate in self-celebratory nothingness, 2,000 times worse than the worst ever article in Heat magazine. It includes five lords, six ladies, four princes, five princesses, two viscounts, three earls, a marquess, and 16 tittering poshos whose names are prefixed with the phrase "The Hon" (which, I've just discovered, means they're the son or daughter of a viscount or baron). Names like Cressida, Archie, Guy, Blaise and Freddie feature heavily. How annoying is it? Put it this way: James Blunt is also on the list, and he's the least objectionable person there.
Each entry takes the form of a chortling mini-biog guaranteed to make you want to punch the person it describes flat in the face. Thus, we learn that "Jakie Warren" is "the heartthrob who lives in the coolest house in Edinburgh and has the initials of all his best friends tattooed on his thigh. You can touch them but he'll make you buy shares in the racing syndicate he co-owns with Ed Sackville ... Good in bed, we hear."
Or consider "The Hon Wenty Beaumont": "The growl, the growl - girls go weak for the growl ... Utterly divine Christie's kid who enjoys nothing more than playing Pass the Pig during weekends at the family estate in Northumberland or in Saint-Tropez."
In other words, the only thing these waddling bags of arseflesh have going for them is unrestricted access to a vast and unwarranted fortune. Strip away the coins and it reads like a list of the most boring people in Britain.
As an additional poke in the ribs, each entry is accompanied by a tiny photograph, so you can squint into the eyes of the cosseted stranger you've suddenly decided to hate. The girls are technically pretty in a uniform, Sloaney kind of way, while the men are more varied, falling into three main categories: dull preening James Blunt types, dull preening indie types, and simpering ruddy-cheeked oafs who look like they're about to pull a pair of underpants over their head and run around snorting like a hog in a bid to impress a blind-drunk debutante.
In summary, it's an entire alternate dimension of shit, a galaxy of streaming-eye fart gas, compressed into a few glossy pages. It will have you alternating between rage, jealousy, bewilderment and distress, before dumping you in a bottomless slough of despond. Buy a copy. No, don't. Stand in a shop flipping through the pages, deliberately fraying each corner as you go. Drink it in. Feel your impotent anger levels peaking. The headrush is good for you. Try it. You'll hate it. Thanks for the recommendation. I'm off for a cry.
- Charlier Brooker, 'Tatler's Little Black Book is the most dispiriting document mankind has produced. Fight for a copy', Guardian, 17 November 2008