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In praise of - recluses.

SACHA Baron Cohen is the latest star to be hit with the heinous allegation: recluse.

The creator and star of Ali G, Borat and The Dictator stands accused of the crime after failing to engage with Her Majesty's Media. Cohen is right rich noo, which I suppose makes him fair game, but the point is: he's not a recluse at all.

He lives a normal life. It's just that, unless he's in character at a time and place of his choosing, he doesn't pose for the paparazzi. Nor does he answer questions about his private life. Do that and you no longer have a private life.

The same charge of reclusion is levelled against The Goddess, Kate Bush, who asks only to be left alone to bring up her family and make her music. That doesn't make her a hermit.

This news just in about being a hermit: it ain't easy. Become a proper recluse and it won't be long before you start wearing hats made of turnip and sitting on the roof in your underpants singing I'm A Pink Toothbrush.

Taoist hermits in China left behind reams of poetry and, far from being inspirational and deep, often they consist of bitter complaints against the rest of the mankind for not being good enough.

But that doesn't make reclusion the ultimate crime, as the tabloids imply. Well, not imply. Tabloids don't imply. They shout. In their world view, the worst crimes are committed by "loners". However, closer inspection reveals these johnnies to be nothing of the sort. Indeed, the vast majority of crimes are committed by the sociable (and short-haired and clean-shaven, for that matter).

Of law-abiding Cohen, a "source" told one paper: "He makes no pretence that he would rather be reading a very serious book than swanning around at parties." Good man.

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