Arianna Huffington has been a gift to me, I love to impersonate her, she even lets me do it to her face without flinching. She once said that people liked me being her more than they liked her being her.
She sounds like Eva Gabor from Green Acres - there's one to check out on You Tube if you didn't watch TV after school in the late 60s - Arianna is actually Greek and she has the soft Athenian lilt of a Goddess, but don't be fooled, underneath she's a gladiator.
Arianna lives round the corner from me on the West side of Los Angeles and a few years ago she started inviting me to parties where people would talk about things other than show business, it was a relief. One evening she said she was going to start the Huffington Post and that everyone must blog.
The way Arianna says blog is delicious - it's like ' blaaahg'. "Time to blaaahg!" She would say when I hiked with her in the Santa Monica mountains with her sister Agapi, who sounds like Eva's sister Zsa Zsa as Duchess in The Aristocats. "Dahling, when are you going to post your blaaag?" She would shout from a car window as she whizzed by you on Sunset Boulevard.
If you mentioned that you were disturbed about the money spent on US elections, or the problems in the Middle East she would tell you to "Blaahg about it immediately!" "But what if I sound like a champagne socialist who has the luxury of spare time to analyse global problems and people ridicule me?" "Well Blaaahg about that then!"
That was the HuffPost's agenda from the beginning and it has gone on to let as many people from as many walks of life possible have a voice. Politicians, scientists, teachers, and of course the inevitable "lifestyle gurus" and celebrity fashion critics rating Jennifer Love Hewitt and Jordan's "beach bods" is a necessary evil if you want to build an online viewing empire.
And now after being acquired by AOL, that is part of what the HuffPost has become. But she did it! This woman blaaaged her way from Brentwood onto the world stage, and I admire her for it.
We should give her control of Greece right now, they've got nothing to lose at this point. But as for the UK - Arianna, I know you say you feel at home here, having gone to Cambridge and dated Bernard Levin and all, but If you think you get flack in the USA at times, its nothing to what the Brits will hurl at you - in our sarcastic, superior, albeit adorable way.
So keep being thick-skinned and indomitable, you're going to need it. Personally, I look forward to seeing you spar with Jeremy Paxman, and stir up the News Corp ranks to start a rival page.
"Rebecca, its Rupert - tell Cameron and Cleggo, if they want to stay in power, to start blogging now! And have someone pretend to be Sienna Miller, that's always good for a laugh.
Traditional journalists have already been grumbling about some unpaid HuffPosters who will be taking away their livelihood, and I know it's awful, but get used to it. Look what happened to us luvvies when all those reality show stars came on the scene. It was painful to realise that the public would rather see these people have sex on infra red cameras and get their haemorrhoids cauterized in HD, than watch us display our craft in classics such as Bergerac, London's Burning and the late great Casualty.
The HuffPost does pay lots of folk, although I never seem to see anyone but Arianna in her home office, wearing three headsets, saying things like "I'm on a conference with Geffen and Bill Gates, but I can tweet with Angela Merkel if someone throws me my third Blackberry." She's a can-do gal is Arianna and she wants a piece of the UK action - gone are the days when the likes of Lord Beaverbrook and Viscount Harmsworth controlled the media.
When King George V died, his time of death was withheld so that the The Times could break the news rather than the late monarch suffering the indignity of having the evening papers run the story. Can you imagine if a rogue chamber maid had blogged back then: "They're telling porkies, he's been cold for bleedin hours!"
So let's welcome The Huffington Post, and the conversation it inspires. I'm sure it will discover many new original voices in this extraordinary country and I take pleasure in impersonating them all, so if you need an interpretor, Arianna, let me know - or even a stand-in if you can't make an appearance in Skelmersdale in mid-January - but I warn you in advance, I'll be charging for that.
Blaaags and kisses, Tracey Ullmann
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