LORD DRONE’S MIGHTY FLEET STREET ORGAN,
THE WORLD’S GREATEST ONLINE NEWSPAPER
THE ALTERNATIVE MEDIA DAILY
THURSDAY 30 NOVEMBER 2023
Dutch version of Scobie book shelved after naming Charles as royal racist
YOU saw it here first … probably. Above is a translation of the Dutch version of Omid Scobie’s book Endgame which claims Charles was the ‘royal racist’ who questioned the skin colour of Meghan and Harry’s as yet unborn baby Archie.
It was also suggested last night that Kate was a second so-called culprit.
The book has been withdrawn from Dutch bookshops but the damage is done.
Whatever the truth of the matter, is it really racist to speculate on the colour of a mixed-race baby’s skin? The jury’s out.
Hammered at the mock Blackpool auction
Former Daily Star reporter GEORGE DEARSLEY recalls his attempt to expose the conmen behind a mock auction in Blackpool in the 1980s which ended in a somewhat nervous stroll along the prom.
Now Reach closes 13 websites
Just when you thought that the newspapers in publisher Reach’s stable were most at risk of closure comes the news that its websites are in the firing line too.
The Express and Mirror publisher has announced that 13 of its ‘Live’ titles are to close. They are: Bedfordshire Live, Berkshire Live, Buckinghamshire Live, Hampshire Live, Herts Live, Norfolk Live, Northants Live, Oxfordshire Live, Suffolk Live, Sussex Live, Staffordshire Live, Dorset Live and Wiltshire Live.
We hear that many of the planned 320 planned redundancies will be unnecessary as staff are now stampeding for the exit before the company sinks completely,
Drinks at Ancoats, anyone?
The annual Manchester Christmas Piss-Up for old and new journalists who worked/work in Manchester will be held at 1pm next Thursday (December 7th) at the Crown ’n’ Kettle, Ancoats .
The annual event started out years ago as an Express and Daily Star do....but has obviously widened as the years roll pass.
Cricket’s Pat Gibson dies at 81
Pat Gibson, who was a much-respected cricket correspondent of the Daily Express, followed by an innings at the Sunday title, has died aged 81.
Gibbo crossed the Street from the Mail to the Express as a sports sub in the early 1970s but soon moved to reporting and was appointed to follow the legendary Crawford White as cricket correspondent.
Future of Express and Star titles in doubt as Reach axes 300 journalists’ jobs
THE FUTURE of the Express and Star titles have been thrown into doubt as publisher Reach announced mass redundancies.
As exclusively forecast in the Drone last week, boss Jim Mullen has announced the loss of 450 jobs, 300 of them journalists.
The restructure will see the merger of print and digital teams on its national and regional titles in a drive toward “future audience-led publishing”. The national newspapers are vulnerable and staff fear the titles will switch to digital only. Some of the newer regional “Live” websites are to be closed.
Yesterday’s announcement comes after widespread cutbacks earlier this year and the closure of some vacant posts.
Reach employed some 4,305 people at the end of 2022, of whom 2,862 were journalists.
Hickey star Roberts dies at 84
TOPPING: John Roberts, far right, at Ascot with fellow diarists Nigel Dempster, James Whitaker, Peter McKay and Peter Tory
JOHN ROBERTS, one of the great characters of Fleet Street and a clever and amusing man, has died at the age of 84.
John, who was for many years a reporter on the Daily Express William Hickey column, had been suffering from cancer.
Frank’s thriller for charity
Frank Malley, deputy sports editor of the Daily Express in the 1990s, is hoping his latest venture will help raise cash for charity this Christmas.
Malley turned to writing thriller novels after leaving journalism and his most recent crime series has been turned into a box set under the title Code Breaker.
"It's a three-book series, incorporating The 13th Assassin, The Hit List and The Killing Circle, the latter having been released in October," said Frank. "They all surround the life of the main character, a reluctant spook called Emily Stearn, and her traumatic adventures in the secret intelligence service. The action sweeps from Moscow to Paris to London. They are fast-paced standalone stories but best read in order."
Royalties from the omnibus, as with the standalone novels, go to the Primrose Cancer charity based at Bedford Hospital.
The Kindle version of Code Breaker, published by Sharpe Books, is available from Amazon at a bargain £4.99.
Q. What's the difference between the Pommies and a funeral director?
A. A funeral director isn't going to lose the ashes.
Q. What's the difference between a covid test and the ashes cricket test?
A. You have to wait five days for a covid test result.
Note to Head Printer please lead this out to fill
Ollie’s £2,893 for Ashley
Ashley Walton’s son Ollie raised £2893.25 for Pancreatic Cancer UK in memory of his father who died in January. He completed the Great North Run in 2 hours 20 minutes. Joan Walton thanks everyone who contributed.
A correspondent calling himself ‘Polly Anna’ inquires why the Drone is ‘preoccupied by mawkish nostalgia’, much of it written by his good self — and El Tel puts him right
Former Daily Express Deputy Sports Editor PETER TOZER has written an appreciation of his old boss DAVID EMERY who died in June 2023 16 months after suffering a debilitating stroke. Emery has been described as ‘a giant of the backbench, a true journalists' editor, who could, when he put pen to paper, still write his staff off the page.
ONLY IN THE DRONE
Our top columnists
Prisoner 7907 has just died. Wanda Poltawska survived four years’ torture, vile experiments and being left for dead at Ravensbruck. The Polish resistance fighter went on to defeat intestinal cancer, become a psychiatrist, mother of four and a friend and adviser to Pope John Paul II. That she lived to be 101 is a tribute to her sheer guts, fortitude and indomitability. Yet the title of her autobiography tells you all you need to know: And I Am Afraid Of My Dreams.
StrangePeopleTheYanks: Hospitality workers have just competed in the Housekeeping Olympics in Las Vegas. Entrants fought for medals in mop racing, vacuuming, buffer pad tossing and a slalom course for ride-on floor polishers. Final discipline in the event, now in its 33rd year, was speed bed-making. Winner Febe Rodriguez gasps: ‘This isn’t for money. It’s for victory.’
Isn’t local telly news coverage generally formulaic, diary-led and lazy? Not everyone succumbs to the cliché. An example from a BBC station. Breathless anchor: ‘Coming up — an expert’s guide to wrapping Christmas gifts but first, the weather’. Jaded meteorologist: ‘And tomorrow we’ll be watching paint dry’. Top man!
Surprising that the Doyen of Dollis Hill couldn’t find space in the Drone book he’s just written on Derek Jameson for the eloquent epitaph on his memorial in St Bride’s: ‘Scatter my ashes in Fleet Street, let the breeze carry my mortal remains to an unseen crevice, a forgotten ledge where my spirit can hear again the laughing voices in the night.’
StatsLife: The forecast that El Niño will bring warmer weather this winter is being welcomed in the snow belt states of the northern US. With good reason: just one snow day is estimated to cost $2.6 billion in lost wages and $870 million in retail sales.
Oysters, now a luxury — Cooley gold rocks £40 a dozen at Randall & Aubin — used to be as cheap as chips, especially in the States and fed rich and poor alike. In 1857 one observer remarked: ‘The only class difference is between people who drink champagne with their oysters and those who wash them down with beer.’
Gaza may only be a quarter of the space of London but the war there has produced a global outpouring of hate on social media totally out of proportion to its size. There have been 46,000 posts with the hashtag #HitlerWasRight and 10,000 with #DeathToMuslims. Antisemitism abuse is up 919%; Islamophobic abuse, 422%.
We like to lift our eyes to the sunlit uplands of the future on the Drone (Eh? — Ed) but I wonder what kids we’re producing. Eloise Hendy tells in Vice of a toddler who saw a butterfly alight on a window pane. The two-year-old reached out to the glass and made a pincer movement with thumb and forefinger as it tried to enlarge the image as if it were on an iPad. I find that rather spooky.
The global viral success of the Charlie’s Bar Christmas heartwarmer confirms what most journos have long thought: ad ‘creators’ can, for the most part, be self-regarding, pink-trousered, jumped-up Jessies. Amateur actors, a £700 budget but a genuine story about the spirit of Christmas versus a rumoured £800,000 and bizarre whimsy about a boy and a Venus flytrap. No contest really.
Caine’sCorner: After his iconically titled On The Origin Of Species, Charles Darwin’s next book was the less snappy: On The Various Contrivances By Which British And Foreign Orchids Are Fertilised By Insects. NMPKT
Nostalgia alert: The past was less gloomy than the present — official. A Science Museum study of 7,000 objects found that 15% were black, grey or white in 1800; today, almost half. In 1952 75% of cars were red, green or blue. Now? You know the answer. Bland rules, OK?
Is the world about to end? The French are going off vin rouge. In the 80s it accounted for 80% of the domestic market but sales have fallen 32% in the past decade. A survey found that 629,000 households stopped buying red between 2019 and 2022; 192,000 started buying white.
LetterOfTheWeek: Katharine Minchin, of Midhurst, to The Times: It was good to read of the efforts of Edinburgh to clean up the streets by tracking the DNA in dog poo through a register. You report that the city’s transport and environment committee passed a motion to that effect. I hope their DNA is registered.
Former Daily Mirror news sub Crawford McAfee has died at the age of 80.
He worked for 40 years on many national newspapers, starting with the Scottish Daily Express in 1962.
Crawford worked at the Daily Mirror in London from spring 1976 until the axe fell on the ‘grey hairs’ in 1995.
He later worked as a freelance on the Daily Express and as a staff sub on Financial Mail.
The funeral will be held at Reading Crematorium at 10.45am on Friday, December 8, with a wake afterwards at The Shoulder of Mutton, Playhatch, RG4 9QU (five minutes’ drive from Reading Crematorium)
NEWS IN BRIEF
A fight has broken out in the lavatories at the Daily Mail. Specifically, on the walls. A piece of graffiti appeared recently that reads "DAILY M. STOP TALK SHIT ABUT MEGAN."
To which a reply has been issued below: "Sub-editor here ... Her name is 'Meghan,' tosspot".
The King's Speech announced the government's intention to repeal Section 40: the controversial bit of legislation drafted in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry that would have had news publishers paying the costs of any court judgment (even cases they won) if they weren't signed up to an "approved" regulator.
It was deeply unpopular with practically every print news organisation – from both sides of the political spectrum, from high- to low-brow. In part because it was bizarre to suggest papers pay their opponents' costs, even when the papers were right.
But also because the only regulator to win state approval was Impress: the one that was quietly funded by Max Mosley. Who then tried to gag the papers for daring to mention that.
At least 36 journalists have been killed in a month of fighting in Israel and Gaza. The dead include 31 Palestinians either bombed or shot by the Israeli military in Gaza Strip, many of whom were killed alongside family members. A number of others are missing. (Press Gazette)
A Freedom of Information tribunal this week will hear The Guardian argue that the cost of providing security for the Royal Family should be made public. The hearing will last for two days and starts on Wednesday. The Government wants to keep the information secret. (The Guardian)
The Barclay family have lodged a £1bn offer backed by Abu Dhabi investors in a bid to re-take control of The Telegraph and Spectator. (Press Gazette)
Reach Q3 trading update: Circulation still "resilient and predictable" revenue stream — the only one of the main categories not to decline in the year so far, but grow marginally. Overall group revenue down 7.8% in Q3 year-on-year and 6.6% in the year to date. (Reach)
National World journalists with the NUJ are now planning a five-day strike, following three days of strike action last month, over "pay issues and disparities". The NUJ said this would leave communities with "outdated news" and replicated cross-paper campaigns. (NUJ)
A woman complained to Ofcom about a Channel 4 News report in which she was interviewed about hotels being used to house asylum seekers. She said she was edited to sound racist but the regulator said she was treated fairly, dismissing her complaint. (Ofcom)
The BBC has responded to complaints that Newsnight's coverage of the Laurence Fox row was unbalanced against GB News. The corporation say they "are happy to accept that in this case this item could have worked better if we had managed to find someone to robustly defend the channel". (BBC)
It has emerged that Google-Extended, the platform's way of allowing publishers to tell robots.txt not to use their content for Bard and other AI projects, does not block their work from being used in Google's AI-generated answers in search results pages. (Search Engine Land)
Fleet Street in the Great War
THIS atmospheric shot of Fleet Street in October 1915 is very much of its time. The Great War was well under way and men in bowler hats and cloth caps were queuing at a recruiting office to enlist with the Fusiliers.
A bus on private hire contains a group of men clearly in good spirits despite the horror of war in the trenches across the Channel. A gent shelters under an umbrella as he rides in a two-wheeled carriage.
This view appears to be looking east towards St Paul’s with Red Lion Court on the near left. The Express was not based in Fleet Street when this pic was taken. We think its offices were in New Bridge Street and later Bouverie Street until the paper moved into its iconic new building at No121 in 1931. It moved to nearby Blackfriars in 1989.
The pic below is an approximation of the scene today.
Express goes ad free online
But it will cost you £2.99 a month
Express editor-in-chief Gary Jones has announced a new service in a bid to increase income. Express Premium will cost readers £2.99 a month or £19.99 a year for all the Daily and Sunday titles’ online content.
LBC is 50 years old — it seems only yesterday that we nipped over the road to earn a few quid
By ALASTAIR McINTYRE
IT seems incredible but the radio station LBC celebrated its 50th anniversary in October.
Incredible, because it feels like only yesterday that former Daily Express editor Chris Williams and I were moonlighting as scriptwriters on the station shortly after it opened in 1973.
LBC was then called the London Broadcasting Company based in Gough Square just off Fleet Street, over the road from the Press Association where Chris and I worked day shifts as news subs. Our night shifts were with LBC’s Independent Radio News which was a national network broadcast to many commercial stations. The station was so poorly staffed that we occasionally read the news bulletins when the usual presenters were in the pub.
The IRN shifts ended at 10pm and as most news shifts at PA started at 8am, it made for a long day but we were young then and it paid the mortgage. The old Gough Square building has since been demolished and replaced and LBC, now part of the Global group, broadcasts from studios in Leicester Square.
LBC alumni including BBC correspondent Clive Myrie, Today presenter Martha Kearney and former Conservative MP Gyles Brandreth were among those who attended the unveiling of a blue plaque at the site of the old Communications House building.
Gyles Brandreth said he was paid £5 for his work on the first day at LBC. “There was anxiety as to whether people would listen to the commercials. So I was engaged, before every commercial, to set a riddle and then give the answer of the riddle after the commercial to entice people to listen.”
The station was then broadcast only to London and never made much money but since the switch to DAB it is now heard nationally and actually makes a profit. So did Chris and I!
THE TEAM BEHIND THE DRONE
(with one noble exception )
Members of the World’s Greatest Lunch Club on parade at yet another funeral on a sunny February day in St Albans. They are, from left, Dick Dismore, columnist; Alastair McIntyre, editor of the Daily Drone appearing by kind permission of Lord Drone; Roger Watkins, columnist; Pat Pilton and Alan Frame, columnist. (Pilton has written bugger all for the Drone. Sorry Pat, no offence.) Another team member, Terry Manners, is not in the pic.
Readers may notice some disparity with the club ties. McIntyre is wearing the latest version and Dismore, Watkins and Pilton are wearing an earlier design, Frame couldn’t find either of his on account of it being his man’s day off. Possibly. This pic has been restored to the front page in response to negligible public demand.