Stratosphere

So Piers Morgan is moving to CNN. Said a source to the Mirror: "He's set to launch into the stratosphere in the US." Ah, the stratosphere. That place where perma-tanned celebrities stroke each other's cheeks and suck at cocktails through gilt-edged straws. Where Cheryl Cole
arm-wrestles Angelina Jolie, and George Clooney brushes Simon Cowell's hair. Where the rest of us, like Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol, stare mournfully through the (bulletproof) glass at the glossy riches beyond our reach.

The stratosphere is where famous people live. It is also the second layer of earth's atmosphere - above the troposphere and below the mesosphere - between 10km and 50km above the surface of the planet. Which is probably precisely where most people would be quite happy for Morgan to reside. But as it is, our celebrity version of the stratosphere is closer to home, lodged on terra firma, even if it is a terra of villas and paparazzi - probably in LA.

The thing about the celebrity stratosphere, as opposed to the celestial one, is how you get there. The genuinely stratospheric (Madonna, MJ, Becks) make the journey fast, rocket-propelled by the sheer force of their talent and marketability. They stay there for ever. Then there are those that, like the Flintstones or a duck, can be seen peddling and paddling just that bit too hard beneath the surface, sweating to prove their super-starriness as they wedge themselves into the public eye like an angry sty. Hello, Piers.

This is, after all, the man that writes things like this in a recent Mail on Sunday column: "Dennis Hopper has sadly died, just a few months after I conducted a spectacularly entertaining interview with him for GQ."

Real stratosphere-dwellers don't tend to use a death as a nice little hook for self-promotion. Still, Morgan isn't the only one exhausting himself to get airborne, or remain aloft in his new stratospheric home. The bar-headed goose - spotted flying over Everest at a height that supposedly reaches the lower levels of the stratosphere - is up there too. Someone for Piers to talk to (at?), I suppose.