The decision of Britain’s most notorious anonymous sex blogger to reveal her identify came as a great relief. It finally puts paid to the suspicion that Belle de Jour c’est moi. The first time my name was linked with the site was in a Mail on Sunday article in 2004 entitled: ‘Who does Belle the Blogger think she’s kidding?’ My wife didn’t read the article, but heard about it from a friend and immediately got the wrong end of the stick.
‘I gather some prostitute with an anonymous blog has outed you as one of her clients in the Mail on Sunday,’ she said.
‘No, no, they think I’m the author of the blog.’
‘You? I don’t understand. Why would anyone pay to have sex with you?’
I tried to explain that I wasn’t suspected of being a prostitute, only of masquerading as one, but that just led to more questions about why people thought I’d have the expertise to perpetrate such a hoax. All in all, it would have been better if my name hadn’t been mentioned. Lisa Hilton, who was also suspected of being Belle de Jour, had a similar experience. ‘It upset my grandmother when I was “outed” on the front page of the Sunday Times as a working prostitute,’ she says.
Several journalists have called to ask how I felt about being a suspect and I said I was flattered because her blog was so well-written. In truth, though, the revelation that the author is a 34-year-old scientist called Dr Brooke Magnanti — and that she really has worked as a call girl — has led to a reassessment of her literary abilities. I took it for granted she was a common or garden prostitute and was therefore quite impressed by her wit and erudition.