I have always been aware of Page Three in The Sun newspaper; the nation’s cheeky joke. I could already read by the time I started school, and being an irritating precocious twerp, I relished the chance to show off by reading the papers out loud, so I wondered why grown ups needed a picture book to understand the news. Could they not read?
Page Three featured a wholesome girl wearing only knickers with her boobs* hanging out, smiling like a goon. I used to think she looked terribly silly. She didn’t even bother to pull a sexy-face! She looks like she’s gone to Sainsburys but forgotten her top, but is cheerfully getting on with it, despite the pervasive freezer-aisle chill. I asked The Adults. “Oh it’s The Sun, they have PAGE THREE. It’s tradition.”
The words ‘Page Three’ were uttered with such gravity Moses himself could have brought the flimsy red-topped tome down from the mountain… “God said let there be The Sun, and there was The Sun. And on the Third Page He created breasts.”
Genetically, I knew I wasn’t going to be well-endowed. Mum warned me from a very young age. “Men only like women with big boobs” she said. I answered “How come dad likes you then?” She explained that she had met dad when they were both teenagers; he was the cool kid who hung out with French students in the park, and she was the Donnie Osmond devotee with a penchant for scrapbooking. She chased him around Thornton Heath rec repeatedly asking him to go out with her until he found it more exhausting to say no than yes.
That sounded like far too much work to me, so in my young mind I imagined a future for myself as a mad-haired skinny lady scratching a living in Chislehurst Caves, in the outskirts of the city, wearing badly fitting old bras handed down from more well-endowed cousins, shouting at badgers and licking moss off the walls. Perhaps I’d find other women like me, mal-formed freaks living without the approval of men. We’d band together in rebel groups, scavenging wheelie bins for leftover bits of fish in packs with British Shorthairs.
It sounded fantastic. Like, post-apocalyptic meet-in-The-Winchester-and-bring-a-spare-snooker-cue fantastic.
But I was primary school age, and many years away from my uber-future as a steely ‘Ms’. In the meantime I spent my summers disappearing in books from the local library (RIP) and letting my happiness hinge on getting past levels in Mario Land 2.
And adulthood came, and I turned out normal (hey, pipe down in the back). I had friends but I wasn’t mad-popular. But I didn’t need that and I didn’t care for it; I was my own best friend. I had cultivated hobbies that would keep me going through those cold winters in the caves, between incantations over the cauldron and milking the cats.
And for that I thank Page Three. I couldn’t have done it without you.
ONLY KIDDING! *straps page three on a surface with an ever-advancing Bond-style laser* But I will allow it to live.
ON ONE CONDITION
Page Four has a Nice Young Man, he can have a top on but be bottomless. And he must be in the possession of some very agreeable junk. It must be natural junk, mind (i.e. no penis enlargement email-quackery) and he must have shaved balls. And at the Great British breakfast table, the mum and daughter will spread out Page Four between the marmalade knife and the bowls of cornflakes, absorbing milk spillages on the vinyl tablecloth, examine his junk, and imagine how fine a sire he might be. They will comment on it, and compare him to the previous day’s Mister. And the father might compare himself favourably to it, and the mother will laugh at him and say he’s too old, and besides, he’s sagged a bit too much for that. And the son will be too young to understand the concept of sexuality, but already he’s wondering what this young man did to deserve so much space in a national newspaper, and there’s a nascent anxiety developing in his head about not measuring up some day, when he should be concentrating on his times tables. Yes, that would make The Sun truly a good family paper, as they already claim to be. Something for all the boys and girls.
But in the meantime, why not add your voice to the No More Page Three campaign?