Is the world close to discovering, once and for all, the identity of the blogger known only as Belle de Jour? Londonist has previously mused that there were more than a few holes in the call-girl-turned-blogger-turned -author-turned-TV-character's story. Now, just when Belle looked a bit past her sell-by date as an internet phenonemon, the story has put on a new pair of Manolo Blahniks and is sprinting for the street corner of the public eye.
"I know who the author really is," writes Nick, webmaster of the Book Club Blog, in an email to Londonist. "He is male and his name hasn't been mentioned by anyone. He's an author who, if I mentioned his name, many people would go 'ah yes, sounds just like what he might do'. He has his head screwed on right, and he will do what we would all do - go all out for the Hollywood film deal."
These words are not Nick's - he is quoting an anonymous poster on one of his exhaustive pieces of detective work into the Belle's name. The story has even been picked up by the Guardian. However, the anonymous (natch) poster, who uses the name "verysunnymeadow", neglects to name names, and instead says: "[The desire for a film deal] will very probably mean not identifying himself for years."
How very convenient. Meanwhile, we in the blogosphere helpfully maintain the book's publicity long after Belle "her"self is beginning to look like a busted flush, greatly extending the shelf-life of an internet fad (which can usually be plotted on a chart I propose calling the "Belle curve"). However, to maintain this level of feverish speculation, keep sales of the book rosy, and perhaps keep negotiations with Channel 4 and Miramax on the boil, every now and then the coals would have to be stoked. This would mean dropping in a new nugget of information - or disinformation.
Of course, the nationals won't leap at every tidbit of gossip, but the blogosphere might. That way, theories can be filtered through the Darwinistic shark-pool of the bloggers, and only the fittest will survive. As verysunnymeadow says in another comment: "I'm sure the author Googles on Belle de Jour and keeps up on what's being said. Speculation means more people visit the site and a bigger market for the book."
So. Is this - heavily anonymous - tip-off just another way of keeping the tired old show on the road long enough to flog the book to a few more sweaty Telegraph readers? What better way to spread speculation than having a secondary blog devoted to books, and sending tip-offs of developments to sites like the Guardian Blog and Londonist? What exactly is Nick's intense interest in Belle (it runs to dozens of detailed posts)? To keep up with what's being said, he must Google Belle de Jour almost daily.
Perhaps he's ... hmmmm. Londonist knows nothing of Nick beyond the fact that he runs a fascinating blog and seems to know more about Belle than anyone else. But here's an interesting bit of synchronicity. Check out Belle's 3 February post. Posted at 3.26pm.
Then Nick blogs it. At 15.39pm. A mere 13 minutes later. Quick work.
Feeling all "Woodward & Bernstein", Londonist raced to the archives. Most of the January posts have time lags of 1 hour 30 minutes or less, with the exception of Friday 28 January (14 hours). But, most damningly: Belle's famous post "calling it a day" appeared on 15 September at 9.52. Just 10 minutes later, Nick reports the news in a lengthy post. With pictures. In 10 minutes.
Is Nick of the Book Club Blog "Belle de Jour"? It's as good as any other theory.