I’ll own up straight away: I’ve never bought a copy of ‘The Sun’ but I’ve read it often. Over the embarrassingly large number of years I’ve served in the army, there’s always been a copy within arm’s reach and I’ve always enjoyed reading it. It’s a brilliant newspaper which hits its target market with deathly accuracy: a combination of entertainment and information.
But Page 3 was never a big attraction for me, mainly because it has always been so… well… sex-less. Even when I was a spotty, hormonally-raging teenager, Page 3 never quite cut the mustard. Nowadays, in the era of instant, free, hardcore internet pornography, Page 3 strikes me as an innocent relic of a past era. I’m not entirely surprised that ‘The Sun’ is slowly edging Page 3 out: with real porn never more than a mouse click away, it’s an outdated irrelevance.
But is the putative end of Page 3 anything other than a pyrrhic victory for those who have campaigned against it? In reality, as has always been the case, women are being brutally exploited at the rotten end of the pornography industry and that isn’t going to change. It certainly hasn’t since photography was invented. If Page 3 goes, is it anything other than a lefty poke in the eye for Rupert Murdoch? It’s probably not even that: he’s on record as being keen to be rid of it.
As it happens, The Sun bought the serial rights to my first book (a fitness book, in fact) and I was summoned to Wapping to shoot some pictures, with one of the Page 3 models of the time. She was absolutely lovely and, best of all, gave me a lift into the city in her sporty soft-top Mazda as I’d arranged to meet a mate there for lunch and she was on her way home to north London. It was a sunny, summer day and after we’d pulled up outside the pub, she got out of the car, in the skin-tight exercise gear she’d been wearing for the shoot, and gave me a great big goodbye kiss. The city wankers outside the pub were definitely impressed; my girlfriend less so, when I told her.