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LONDON

SATURDAY 15 DECEMBER 2018

WEATHER: CLOUDY, MODERATE RAIN, MAX 6C

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

Well, why do you want a political career? Have you ever been in the House of Commons and taken a good square look at the inmates? As weird a gaggle of freaks and sub-humans as was ever collected in one spot — P G Wodehouse

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Reach expects to make £3m savings this year

(But dozens get the sack)

Reach, publisher of the Express, Mirror, and Star newspapers, said last night it expects to make £3million in savings this year, £1million more than forecast.

The company added that it will have paid down its debt by nearly a third — £26million — by the year’s end. It said in a trading update that it remained “on track” to make at least £20million in annual savings by 2020.

Reach has also netted £5million from the sale of two vacant properties including the former Liverpool Echo office.

Some of the savings will come from mass sackings but somehow the company omitted to mention that. Staff morale is said to be rock bottom, particularly at the Express titles.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

SIR — In the current Quote of the Day there is a reference to vomit. Drone readers may like to know that there are two distinct types of vomiters: the Ruths and the Hughies. They are identified by the sounds they emit on these unfortunate occasions.

HUGH RIECH,

Orpington

SALES PLUMMET IN PRINT AND ONLINE
THE latest national newspaper circulations make grim reading.

Print sales fell fast in November with the Daily Telegraph worst hit, suffering a 22 per cent decline year on year, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations.

The situation was bad on the web too with Mail Online down 16 per cent. 

The print version of the Daily Mail was down 12 per cent and the Mail on Sunday declined by 13 per cent.

ABC figures for November are:

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Just when you thought politics couldn’t get any weirder ...

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Never buy a Border Collie when you’ve had a drink

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SNAPPERS SNAPPED

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Here, in glorious black and white, is another trip down memory lane. This pic of Sport and General Press Agency staff was taken at the retirement in 1980 of John Macnee, centre standing. Back row, fourth from left, is Tony Sapiano.

Stuart Clarke, editor of The Moorlander in Devon fills in some of the gaps: Middle row, Dave Ofield, Scoby Riggs, printer, Alistair Loos, Dennis Jones, Hugh Routledge. 

Front row: Neville Mariner,  Stuart Clarke, Roy Chaplin,  Julian Parker and Dave Benett.

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What a shower!

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CHANNEL 4 forecaster Liam Dutton last night described Daily Express weather forecasts as “utter garbage” and criticised the paper for its “fake weather stories”, Press Gazette reports.

It is not the first time Dutton has criticised the Express, in fact he has been banging on about it for at least two years — along with the Daily Drone.

Read the Press Gazette story here 

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Lookalike

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                 MACRON                                        RAAB

One is a Eurosceptic zealot who has risked his career prospects for the sake of his country; the other is a pro-European fanatic who has risked his country’s prospects for the sake of his career. Are they related? You decide.

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SLOW DEATH OF THE LITERATE HEADLINE

Back in the day (cliché alert) sub-editors were expected to write literate, active headlines which, ideally, contained a subject, a verb and an object.

And avuncular old school chief subs would advise: “If in doubt, young man, just tell the tale.”

For example, the late, lamented Daily Express copy-taster Les Diver’s favourite (and oft-quoted) heads were:

ELEPHANT STUCK ON

SPIRAL STAIRCASE

and

MONKEY SHAFTS* NUN IN 

TEST-TUBE BABY DRAMA

*If memory serves the word in question was not ‘shafts’ — Ed 

Nowadays all bets are off. “News” websites are objects of contempt because of the piss-poor, sometimes hilarious headlines often cobbled together by young reporters who wouldn’t know an avuncular old school chief sub if he bit her or him on the bum (ah, those were the days — Ed).

So MULDOON, the Drone’s Chief Sub in Waiting (not a cat’s chance in hell, sonny — Ed), has been trawling the websites (mainly the Mail Online, actually) for a new series entitled: 

Headlines you’re glad you never wrote.

Here is his first example: 

Is everything OK? Ali Oetjen and Taite Radley**

Look Strained As They Get Coffee Before Heading 

Into Clinic That Specialises In Cosmetic Injectables

**Nope. Us neither. 

No.2

Six Children Are Hospitalised

With Breathing Problems And 

Rashes After A Kid Defecates In 

The Pool — Causing A Toxic Cloud

No. 3

Daniel Day-Lewis Checks

His Flip Phone As He 

Enjoys His Retirement 

Alone In New York Park

No. 4

Dame Joan Collins, 85, Reveals

She Had A ‘Transgender Moment’

 At 15 When She Dressed In Her

Father’s Clothes And Went To

Football Matches Because She

‘Didn’t Want To Become A Woman’

No. 5

Rapunzel, Rapunzel Let Down Your

Mare! Horse Boasts Incredible Long

Hair Like The Fairy Tale Character

No. 6

EXCLUSIVE: Kanye West’s

‘Stepfather’ Says He Was ‘Prodigy

Genius Child’ With An Ego And 

Slight Speech Impediment As Details

Of Rapper’s Childhood Reveals He

Loved Nude Thai Beaches And

Preferred ‘Self Love To Having Girlfriends'

Tomorrow: Grandma’s hell hole torment

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Daily Express news subs 1960s

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This snap, provided by David Eliades, shows the Express newsroom in London some time in the early 1960s. 

In the foreground is foreign sub Jack Atkinson and next to him in his customary white shirt is splash sub Peter Hedley. The man to Hedley’s left on the middle bench is Ted Hodgson who later became night editor.

Opposite Jack is Ken Macaulay and next to him is Ralph Mineards. 

The man seated under the pillar in the white shirt and dark tie, is Eric Price. This would date the pic as before 1962 as Price left the Express that year to join the Western Daily Press in Bristol.

The backbench is the long desk on the left. Third one in is Eric Raybould and next to him is Morris Benett.

Thanks to TONY BOULLEMIER  and ROGER WATKINS for help with this caption.

RICK McNEILL reports:  I would date the picture pre-1965, before I joined. I recognise those you mention but others are unknown to me. 

I think the man in the far right background, on the telephone, is picture supremo Frank Spooner and the man seated looking up at him Jim Nicholl. I seem to recall the picture desk and foreign desk shared the same space around then. 

Facing Ted Hodgson is Welshman Harold Jones wearing his signature cardigan, look you. Apart from Morris and Raybould the Backbench is populated by strangers. I’d love to know who they are!

Click pic to enlarge

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

SIR — How nice to see a photograph of my late father, Ralph Mineards, deputy father of the Daily Express chapel, in your illustrious organ.

When he retired in 1979, getting the honor of being "banged out" by the printers, he estimated he had travelled more than a million miles commuting from his Northampton home to London Euston, whiling away his hour-long ride doing the Times crossword.

I always remember him telling me that when he sat on the committee that helped launch the Daily Star, its audience was considered "the Millwall supporter who rolls his own cigarettes”.

An extremely capable journalist and wonderful father.

I followed in his footsteps as an Express trainee on the Falmouth Packet, where my colleagues included Nick Coleridge, now the head of Conde Nast UK, before joining Paul Callan's Inside World on the Mirror and then moving to Nigel Dempster's Diary on the Mail, leaving for the U.S. as an editor on New York Magazine, eventually becoming an anchor for CBS and a commentator on ABC News.

I have now lived in Santa Barbara for 11 years, where I write a weekly column for the Montecito Journal.

RICHARD MINEARDS

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Seven in pub heaven

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Seven of the best — that’s this group of erstwhile Daily Express sub-editors who met at their old haunt of the King’s Arms in Roupell Street, London on December 5. 

Pictured are, back row, from left: Brian Izzard, Tony Boullemier, Alan Livermore (Daily Mirror) and Ray King.
Front row: David Laws, Ray Williams and Nick Pigott.

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MEET THE DRONE’S NEW AGONY UNCLE

Phone Our Man Stan on Steeple Cholmondely 1 to sort out any mess you might have gotten yourself into. Lord Drone said last night: ‘I have nothing to say.'

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Lunchers meet at the court of 
King David and Queen Lamar

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The World’s Greatest Lunch Club moved from its customary festive perch at Joe Allen to the World’s Greatest Luxury Apartment Overlooking the Thames yesterday.

We were guests of David Eliades and his wife Lamar who invited the former Daily Express journalists and their wives to their home beside the river at Richmond.

Pictured above from left are Lamar Eliades, Alan Frame, Dick Dismore and Carol Watkins. Behind Carol is Ashley Walton, Chris McIntyre and David Eliades.

MORE PICTURES

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Prisoner Alf gives that little bit extra

OH DEAR, former Sunday Express reporter Alfred Lee is looking down on his uppers.

But worry not. Our Alf has turned his hands to acting — as an extra.

He explained in an email to friends: "Here’s me, as a Mongolian prisoner in the big budget film Waiting For The Barbarians now being filmed in the Moroccan desert. 

"I have been tortured and beaten by soldiers commanded by Johnny Depp.  

"Sir Mark Rylance who stars in the film, written by J M Coetzee, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, plays the powerful Magistrate, who searches his soul and orders the release of the Mongolian prisoners, including me.”

And that’s not ‘alf bad. (See what we did there?)

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ON THE SET: Alfred Lee with Mark Rylance

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History in Moments

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FLASHBACK TO 1965

Twiggy’s Express dress

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GOOD MOURNING AND GOOD NIGHT, WILLIAM HICKEY

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They look glum but these Daily Express women were in fact putting on an act. They were actually having fun, mourning the death of the paper’s William Hickey gossip column. 

Back in 1987, the Express decided to replace the long-dead diarist with a real person in the shape of Ross Benson. Fleet Street gossip columnists led by the Daily Mail’s Nigel Dempster held a mock funeral for Hickey whose  name was revived following Benson’s death. 

This picture is supplied by Kim Willsher, second left, with Louise Court on her right.

The day they buried Hickey

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

SIR — On a flying visit to London recently I took my family for dinner at the new Joe Allen, fondly expecting to wallow nostalgically in its uniquely cool and quietly clubbable atmosphere.

Imagine my surprise (as they say) to find myself in a overcrowded characterless bistro full of shouting tourists off the street and an expensive menu with little to remind me of its bygone Exeter Street heyday. Even the signature cheesecake tasted like Tesco’s!

Perhaps you chaps have a different perspective at your regular get-togethers there. Probably it’s the company not the place? Maybe also night times are a no-no. Too close to the Strand.

You know what they say . . . never go back.

Greetings to all Express Persons of Good Standing!

 RICK McNEILL

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May’s Brexit  letter — subbed

We’ve been trying to make sense of Theresa May’s letter to the nation. See the result of our resident Remainer’s work here

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

SIR — I was half-way through Dick Durham's excellent Guttersnipe when I came across a reference to "nature's pruning fork", attributed to  Brian Hitchen when editing the Star. This, says Durham, was  his comment on a story about a murderer who left bodies of gay men strewn about London.

The  label description was current at the Mirror in those far-off times, and was shortened to NPF. However, the term applied mostly to natural disasters abroad, such as a thousand or so killed by a volcano.  It  did so annoy one particular middle-bencher who was a stickler for accuracy to the extent of being a bit of a pedant. He insisted that there was no such thing as a pruning fork, the gardening tool being a pruning knife.

Thought you might like to know.

PETER MICHEL

Buy Dick’s book here

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THE GHASTLY GANG OF TEN WRECKERS

MPs hold UK to ransom 

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Ulsterman ALAN FRAME speaks out with passion about the ruin Arlene Foster and her bigoted band of Democratic Unionist Party MPs have brought to his beloved province and the damage it is doing to the UK

READ IT HERE


AND NOW … A SHORT POEM WHAT JIM CASSELS WROTE: 

(With apologies to McGonagall)

May-be Knot

Mrs No-muscles went to Brussels

To get her country a deal

But when she got there

The cupboard was bare

No snack, never mind a meal 

(Thank you Jim, don’t call us)

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Tweet of the Year

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Express showbiz great Victor Davis dies at 89

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Tributes have been paid to Victor Davis, former Showbusiness Editor of the Daily Express and the doyen of entertainment writers, who died at his home in Notting Hill, London on Monday. He was 89.

He had been living alone, with a carer, since his wife, Janice died fours years ago.

Victor is pictured above left with his friend and colleague, former Mailman and author Brian Freemantle.

The funeral will be held at St George’s Church, Aubrey Walk, Campden Hill, Notting Hill, London W8 7JG at noon on December 17. Nearest Tube station is Notting Hill Gate.

There’s been no news of a reception afterwards, but as Vic’s favourite pub, the Windsor Castle, is nearby, there’s no doubt that his many friends will be meeting there afterwards for drinks in his memory.

Drone tributes

RODERICK GILCHRIST’S tribute in the Mail On Sunday

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MAC’S 50-YEAR REIGN BEATS GILES

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Stan McMurtry, better known as Mac of the Daily Mail, has now surpassed Carl Giles of the Daily and Sunday Express as the longest-serving cartoonist on a national newspaper, serving from 1968 to 2018, reports Tim Benson of the Political Cartoon Gallery in Putney. 

Mac retires from the Mail next month.

Giles, who died in 1995, drew his last cartoon for the Express in 1989.

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Stan McMurtry with former Mail editor Paul Dacre at the launch of the paperback and Kindle ebook 50 Years of Mac. The book contains the best of Mac’s cartoons from the 1960s.

Buy it here 

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Reflections on Cummings, a great Express cartoonist

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Who remembers Muriel Bailey, doyenne of the

Express Foreign Desk?

Strolling arm in arm down Fleet Street with a youthful Jim Nicoll in 1969, this was Daily Express Foreign Desk copytaster Muriel Bailey on the day she retired.

Do you remember Muriel? If so her niece Laura Gregory would love to hear from you.

Laura told the Drone: "Do you know if anyone is still around who knew or worked with my favourite auntie Muriel Bailey, she was copytaster on the Daily Express Foreign Desk and retired on June 30th, 1969 after 35 years with Beaverbrook.

"She worked under Eric Raybould and Derek Marks and René MacColl.  

"Four of the seven foreign editors she worked under were  Stuart Steven, David English, Norman Smart, Sutton, Foley, Lulow.”

Can you help with any reminiscences? Contact the editor at dailydrone@mail.com

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Puffing on a cigarette, Muriel taps away on her trusty typewriter on the Express Foreign Desk, sorting out the best stories from the world that day watched by an admiring Jim Thurman

Tribute to Muriel in the Express staff newspaper Crusader

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Alan Bennett Diaries
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Caricature of the week

Her Maj by Nicola Jennings 

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THE WAY WE WERE
Picture that sums up fun of old Fleet Street

THREE OF THE BEST: Features subs Norman ‘Normal’ Cox, Dave ‘Squiffy’ Searby, and Mike ‘Trouser’ Snaith relax after a hardish day’s night at the Daily Express in Fleet Street

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SLIGHTLY MORE SENSIBLE: But not very, production editor Bob Smith, left, and artist Fred Boyce inspect the first edition of the Daily Express at the Blackfriars offices in the 1990s

Both pictures courtesy of Geoff Compton

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It’s the Duke, caught on camera in the 1970s

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There’s a few familiar faces in this pic of the London Evening Standard backbench in, at a guess, the 1970s. In the background gazing into the middle distance is Chris ‘Duke’ Djukanovic, later to become picture editor of the Daily Express. 

Seated on the right is Charles Wintour, famed editor of the Standard, and next to him in the striped shirt is Roy Wright, who later became the editor of the Daily Express before disappearing without trace.

PETER STEWARD has filled in the gaps. He writes:

I believe the picture was taken before I joined the Standard (in the long hot summer of 1976) and for some reason I think it was a pre-Budget meeting. At that time the Evening Standard was part of the Beaverbrook empire and housed in Shoe Lane.

As you say, to the left of Charles Wintour is Roy Wright who returned to the Standard while I was there. I think he was deputy editor when Simon Jenkins was fired and Wintour returned for a short time before Lou Kirby arrived and Associated took half a share in the paper.

Seated centre is Bill Sharp, the splash sub.The chap back left in beard and specs is Cyril Raper, who enjoyed a White Shield Worthington. I think he was once chief sub, but during my time there he was like an executive revise sub. 

In those days subs sent copy direct to the printers below via a conveyor belt down the middle of the desk and a hole in the floor. The first opportunity to get it revised was when galley proofs arrived upstairs or when the stone sub got a chance to read it.

On the left is the legendary political editor Bob Carvel (with pipe) and Michael King.

Perhaps the person furthest right could be David Henshall.

I left the Standard on December 29 1983 after being kidnapped in the Poppinjay by the sweet-talking Terry Manners. I was working a five-day week as the Standard's chief sub at the time but Terry held out the prospect of a four-night week for more money. 

Six months later Mr Manners showed me the way to the escape tunnel (or perhaps he regretted tempting me in the first place) and I left to join the Sunday Express under that dynamic liberal editor Sir John Junor.

Click pic for larger image

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TODAY’S FRONT PAGES

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TODAY’S BACK PAGES

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TODAY’S CARTOONS

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Peter Brookes

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Christian Adams

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Steve Bell

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Dave Brown

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Peter Brookes

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Steve Bell

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Stan McMurtry

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Bob Moran

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David Rowe

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Gerald Scarfe

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Ben Jennings

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Graeme Keyes

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David Rowe

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Bob Moran

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Morten Morland

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Brian Adcock

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Stephff

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Andy Davey

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Bob Moran

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Punch Classic (1954)

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Ronald Searle

Classic Giles (1977)

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Latest Eye

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Classic Eye (1975)

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When we were very young

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The faces look familiar to anyone who was on the Daily Express in the 1970s and 80s. But who are these two youngsters? The answers are here

Day the long Fleet Street lunch died

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COLIN DUNNE, a former feature writer for The Sun and Daily Mirror, has written a superbly nostalgic piece in Press Gazette about the death of the Fleet Street long lunch. It will ring a distinct bell for many readers of the Daily Drone.

Dunne’s story inevitably involves Kelvin (no surname needed) storming around the office trying to get his staff out of licensed premises. 

The Drone’s own ASHLEY WALTON has a similar recollection. He reports: Shortly after Kelvin left the Express to edit The Sun I was taking a lunchtime glass in the Wine Press and joined four Sun reporters who were all sitting at the bar with one eye on the window and Bouverie Street.  

In the middle of some convivial chat the foursome suddenly fled from their stools and disappeared into the back of the bar. Kelvin came through the door and joined me at the bar.

After about half an hour of picking my brains about life on the Express he stood up to leave. At the door he turned round ... 'Oh by the way can you tell those cunts in the bog to come back to the office.’

I went to the gents, there was no sign of them but four closed doors. Looking underneath the doors, nothing to see, so I shouted: 'He  knows you are here!

The foursome got down from the toilet bowls and fled to the office — but not without finishing their drinks still on the bar.

There was a good deal of late evening merriment going on, too, at around that time, not least at the Mirror.

On one famous occasion chief sub Vic Mayhew rolled back from Barney's about 20 minutes after the last bell to be confronted angrily by night editor Mark Kahn.

'Pissed again,’ said Kahn to Vic.

'Yeh Mark,' said Vic. 'So am I!'   

READ COLIN DUNNE’S PIECE HERE

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Alan Bennett Diaries

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Fleet Street then and now

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1899: Carter’s Hair Cutting Saloon, at 17 Fleet Street, London, just opposite Chancery Lane. The facade above the gateway, which leads to Inner Temple, hid the original 17th Century half-timbered front which was subsequently restored. 

The first floor of the building comprises Prince Henry’s Room, named for the son of James I. It is one of the few surviving buildings in the City of London dating from before the Great Fire of London in 1666. It is a Grade II listed building.

BELOW: The same building today.

More on this

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Hold the front stage! It’s Christiansen the film star

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1961: Legendary Daily Express editor Arthur Christiansen demonstrates that as an actor he was a very fine journalist playing himself in the cult sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Caught Fire. 

Chris, pictured with Edward Judd who played a maverick reporter (aren’t they all? — Ed), spent most of the time spouting lines like: “Hold the front page!” and “Make it sing and make it a song I like,” (or was that another legendary Daily Express editor?) 

The film was based on the Express in its heyday and many shots were filmed in the office and Fleet Street. Behind the scenes there was also rumoured to have been a piquant play within a play starring an Express executive (still there in the seventies) and the luscious female lead Janet Munro, who, after a hard day’s filming, were encountered discussing bold intros and splash heads in the lane behind the Old Bell (mem to Night Lawyer Cocklecarrot: It’s OK: they’re both dead now)

MULDOON

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We think this may be a pic of the Express subs

but could it be the Mail?

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This fascinating pic of sub-editors in, at a guess, the 1950s has been taken from the website of Hugh Dawson, who was chief sub and production editor of the Daily Mail for more than 40 years. Hugh, pictured right, died aged 73 on 24 June after a long fight against motor neurone disease. He started in journalism on the sports desk of The Journal, Newcastle, in 1962 and left the Daily Mail in 2010. He also worked on the Hemel Hempstead Post and Echo.

Hugh identified the picture as of the Daily Express. That being the case, we think the man on the far right of the pic is Dan McDonald.

But Rick McNeill, who joined the DX news subs in the 1960s, thinks the picture may be of the Daily Mail newsroom. He said: "Inspecting your fascinating DX subs picture with my Sherlock Holmes © Magnifying Glass, I think the man you ID as Dan McDonald is cutting a copy of the Daily Mail. See masthead. Which leads me to suppose that (a) it is not Dan McDonald but a lookalike, and (b) this is a pic of Daily Mail subs. Did Dan ever work for the Mail?

"Also the room, windows, ceiling lights and clock on the pillar are wrong the Black Lubyanka subs’ room I joined in the mid-1960s looked nothing like this and was unchanged since at least before the war.

"Maybe the real mystery is why Hugh Dawson mistakenly identified the picture on his website? He was after all Mail chief sub for yonks.

"I’m happy to be proved wrong, however.

Chris Chalke, an Express news sub in the 1970s, wondered if the picture is in fact of the Daily Express in Manchester. Dan McDonald was a Scot so he could well have worked there before moving down to London.

Chris added: “The skull on the left opposite Dan McDonald reminded me of Ted Hodgson.”

Roger Watkins has his doubts too. "I don’t think that’s the Daily Express. When I moved to Fleet Street from Manchester in the seventies the back bench was parallel to Fleet Street facing north (it later turned 180 degrees when it moved to be closer to the news desk).

"In Hugh’s picture there are windows behind the back bench. For that to be the Express they would have to be on the Shoe Lane wall (where the art desk and reporters were situated when we left the Lubyanka)

"Unlikely, especially when you consider there was a huge supporting pillar (by which the Manchester Desk sat) which would have been in the middle of the subs desk.

"I don’t know much about lookalikes but I think Rick’s right about Dan.”

Last night further forensic examination of the photo throws up more doubts. Could the pic date from the 1930s?

Rick said: "Since when did subs (Mail or Express) ever look so respectfully buttoned up with suits and ties and Ernest Bevin specs? Pre-war I reckon."

What do you think?

Tribute to a true gentleman

Hugh Dawson’s website

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The amazing life of Bain, a fantastic story well told

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The idea of launching a public relations company in a desert country where they’d never heard of PR, especially when you couldn’t speak the language and had no experience in that business, might  seem more like insanity than entrepreneurial vision. But that’s exactly what former Express sub IAN BAIN did in the United Arab Emirates.

After an understandably shaky start, he built it into one of the biggest consultancies of its kind in the Middle East with clients that included General Motors, Airbus, Intel, Samsung, Emirates Airline and many others. 

At the time, Ian was well used to risk-taking, having been a reporter, a merchant seaman, a big-time booze smuggler in India, and Buenos Aires correspondent of the Express and The Economist — all before the age of 24. 

How he achieved success without the benefit of an education (he attended nine schools in 10 years and was thrown out at the age of 15 without a single exam pass) is beautifully described in his memoirs, Singing in the Lifeboat, available on Amazon.

Amid a multitude of other adventures, the book relates how Ian battled alcoholism, checking himself into a psychiatric clinic in Dubai where he was shocked to find patients handcuffed to the water pipes, and guards with batons. “It wasn’t the kind of rehab I’d had in mind,” he said.

"I'm grateful to a few of my old Express colleagues who read the manuscript and produced some lovely words for the covers," he added. 

"Right now I'm trying to figure out how Amazon's sales charts work. With pre-orders alone, the book hit No 1 in UAE history and No 1 in motor rallying when these subjects are only loosely connected. Of course, that's only on one particular day but not everyone knows that.

Singing in the Lifeboat is available on Amazon for £8.99 

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DRONE PHOTONEWS

In remembrance of Bob

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Bob McGowan was one of the great reporters on the Daily Express. Now, exclusively on the Drone, his widow Pauline has issued some pictures of our esteemed colleague, who died in 2011 aged just 67.

See the pics and read TERRY MANNERS’ tribute here

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Drone Mart

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DRONETUBE
Nick Lloyd’s tribute to Jean Rook in 1991

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DRONETUBE

Our man Ashley on ITV news

Ashley Walton out on the Fergie story, early 1990s 

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Daily Star Sports Desk 1980

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Former Daily Star sub Jeff Connor, pictured front right, sent this snap of the paper’s Sports Desk in Manchester circa 1980 before they moved to new offices. 

Pictured, second left, is sports editor Arthur Lamb, to his left is deputy sports editor Gordon ‘Geordie’ Burnett (long departed), the secretary was named Sue. In the background between Gordon and Jeff is the backbench with deputy night editor Chris Davis, later Royston Davis, who went to The Sun, and leaning over him is copy editor Mike Hughes. 

Next to Chris is night editor Andy (mine’s a Bell’s and a light ale) Carson, then Ian Pollock. On the extreme left is Jack Ronnie (probably). Also on the backbench is Robbie Addison.

To the left of Chris Davis is Ian Pollack and standing is a guy called Robbie who we think was deputy to editor Peter Grimsditch. Behind secretary Sue is the DS newsdesk. Thanks to Mike Hughes and John Edgley for help in identifications. 

Read Jeff Connor’s potted history of Ancoats from 1976 to 1988. ONLY ON THE DRONE!

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Latest Beano

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One in the Eye

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No 103

Volume 15: 1986

THE history of the Daily and Sunday Express as told 30 years ago through the columns of Private Eye (Lord Drone does not necessarily agree with the sentiments expressed although, from memory, they seem reasonably accurate.) 

New readers: The Eye referred to the Express as the Getsworse, the Getsmuchworse, or the Getsevenworse or sometimes even worse than that.

UPDATED 27 JANUARY

25 July 1986

Street of Shame

When an Englishman was sentenced to hang in Malaysia for drug-running, the Getsmuchworse swiftly dispatched ace newshound Norman Luck to cover the pleas for clemency, death-cell agony and grisly end. Unfortunately the grisly end took rather a long time coming.

Worried about the cost of this jaunt, the Getsmuchstingier’s news desk ordered the luckless Luck to return home. While he was in midair, though, it became clear that the editor, “Nick” Lloyd — who had not been told of Luck’s imminent return — wanted him to remain in Kuala Lumpur.

In panic, the news desk decided to keep the return of the prodigal wordsmith secret. As soon as he touched down on home soil he was whisked off to a hideaway and continued filing stories as if he was still in Malaysia.

Thus it was that a series of graphic eyewitness accounts of the days leading up to the hanging which appeared in the Express under the byline “from Norman Luck in Kuala Lumpur” actually came from no further afield than Tunbridge Wells where Luck was holed up in a luxurious flat while involved in discussions of a Malaysian nature.

19 September 1986

Street of Shame

Just as United boss David Stevens removes one source of sleaziness, Roger Boyes, so another pops up. Fleet Street's most repulsive yob Ray Mills, now has a column in the Star. 

Eye readers will remember Mills from issue 635, in which his habit of peeing in office wastepaper baskets, to the distress of cleaners, was disclosed. Mills’s new column is the journalistic equivalent of peeing in public.

At the Star he is known to one and all as BIFFO — Big Ignorant Fucker From Oldham.

The most recent Mills story involves his teenage son who, trying to please the elderly delinquent, baked him a birthday cake. Mills threw the cake at the lad’s head, shouting: “Are you a queer or something?”

3 October 1986

Street of Shame

When word was brought to dynamic Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie that Pat Phoenix was dead, his reaction was swift. “Get Doris Stokes [a clairvoyant] on the phone,” he screamed at a subordinate. “I want the first interview from the other side.”

A few minutes later the trembling subordinate reported back. La Stokes said that it took some time for for the spirit to move from earthly form. Even with her talents she could not yet make contact with the departed star.

“Well tell her to make it up,” shrieked MacFrenzie.

14 November 1986

“Hindley Freedom Move” screamed the Daily Getsmuchworse on Monday, labelling the story as “exclusive”. Its gullible readers were informed that Myra Hindley was to be sent to an open prison, and there were assorted quotes expressing the appropriate shock horror.

The Home Office denied the story as being untrue, for a very good reason — it was.

Step forward yet again Mr Michael Rocco Ryan who, posing as a prison nurse on escort duty, conned the gullible hacks. They can, however, almost be forgiven — for Rocky has become more sophisticated in the last twelve months. He has a fun-loving female accomplice who leads the hacks into his traps.

28 November 1986

Blood is running in the gutters at the Sunday Express, following the takeover by new Editor Robin Esser and his personally-appointed deputy Brian Hitchen.

Assistant Editor James Kinlay, once touted as the next editor, finishes at the end of the month. Photo editor John Dove has been given his cards and finishes up at the same time. Foreign editor Terry Foley returned from sick leave to be told he was no longer needed and has moved out of his office.

The latest office notice board announcement is the demotion of News Editor Michael Dove to reporter, apparently for his remark in the Poppinjay pub: “Brian Hitchen wouldn’t know a news story if it was shoved up his nose. He’s a beer-bellied idiot.”

“Inspector” Michael Watts has been axed after 27 years on the paper after telling Esser: “You can’t change the character of my column, old boy. I won’t stand for it.”

Travel editor Lewis de Fries has been chopped and now the Esser/Hitchen Punch and Judy act have turned their sights on Features Editor Max “Fuhrer” Davidson because of his continual complaining within the office: “All I get are inane features from Esser’s talentless Yuppie friends and Hitchen’s old drunken American-based cohorts.”

Assistant editor Ted Dickinson has been told to leave because when Esser tried to get back on the Daily Express after the closure of the Evening News he wrote a memo, still on file, reading: “On no account should Esser be given a job. He’s a total incompetent.”

Assistant editor Henry Macrory has been demoted to News Editor and one of his deputies, Ted Gartell, leaves at the end of November after being axed. Political editor Keith Renshaw has volunteered for early retirement at Christmas.

So of all departmental heads, that leaves just Diary Editor Lady Olga Maitland. The terrible duo backed off at the last minute when she befriended and started lunching with Lady Stevens, wife of Express supremo Sir David Stevens. Now she’s organising a counter-plot, jabbing her poison pen into the backs of her would-be executioners.

But that has not stopped Punch and Judy from targeting their next victim: the great Sir John Junor himself, who keeps bad-mouthing Esser and Hitchen to his spies still on the Sunday Express.

*****

The Daily Express, it seems, is still under the impression that its rightful owners are the Beaverbrooks. Lady Beaver has recently taken to ringing the paper’s executives to complain of items she finds “offensive” or “anti-Tory”, to wit one poor hack’s reference to “booze and fags”.

The hack was summoned to Deputy Editor Leith McGrumble’s office and told to empty his desk and collect his cards. As stunned as were his building society and family, the minion duly complied, but first informed the Father of the Chapel. A ruckus ensued between various heads of department and, 24 hours later, the hack was reinstated. Later he was told that he had also been guilty of anti-Tory sentiments and had better keep his nose clean (ie brown) in the future.

Lady Beaverbrook is 94.

Christmas issue

Letters to the Editor

Bloodless…

Sir,

Less blood has flowed on the Sunday Express than you claim. Only one member of the News Desk is leaving the paper, entirely of his own volition. The only change in my own position is that my duties have been expanded.

Yours unanaemically, 
HENRY MACRORY

Assistant Editor,
Sunday Express 

121 Fleet Street, London


Coo

Sir,

Your piece about me (Eye 651) is wrong in every detail.

I was not demoted from News Editor. I came off the desk in order to write for the new lively Sunday Express. It was entirely my idea and the move was approved by the editor.

Neither have I ever criticised Brian Hitchen in the Poppinjay or anywhere else. The remarks you attributed to me are a complete fabrication.

Your article was untrue and highly defamatory. I thought you had learned your lesson about checking facts after your recent High Court experience. 

Kindly publish this letter. I know better than to expect an apology from you.

MICHAEL DOVE

Senior Reporter

Sunday Express

121 Fleet Street, London

THAT’S IT FOR 1986

MORE FROM 1986

ONE IN THE EYE 1985

ONE IN THE EYE 1984

ONE IN THE EYE 1983

ONE IN THE EYE 1982

ONE IN THE EYE 1981

ONE IN THE EYE 1980

ONE IN THE EYE 1979

ONE IN THE EYE 1978

ONE IN THE EYE 1977

ONE IN THE EYE 1976

ONE IN THE EYE 1975

ONE IN THE EYE 1974

ONE IN THE EYE 1973

ONE IN THE EYE 1972

ONE IN THE EYE 1966-1971

SPOOF FRONT PAGE FROM 1965

*****

Who put the lights out?

Dxblackout

NOTHING stopped the Daily Express in 1972, not even the miners’ strike. It was the year of constant power cuts instigated by Prime Minister Edward Heath to cope with the lack of coal to fuel the power stations. And as the clock hit 4.14 on a winter's afternoon the Express news sub-editors slaved away by gaslight. Lord Drone recalls that the gas lamps on the ceiling were still there when the Fleet Street office was vacated in 1989. 
Who’s in the picture? We put a few names to faces HERE

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DroneTube
Farewell to Fleet Street

Fleet Street was full of journalists for the first time in many years when the London Press Club held a long lunch to mark the departure of the last newspaper from the Street of Broken Dreams. Watch the YouTube video of the event above and read the Guardian report

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DroneTube Exclusive

Life After The Front Page

This rare and previously largely unseen film, unearthed in the annals of Lord Drone, recalls the grand old days of Fleet Street. It includes interviews with Ann Buchanan, of The Sun and Daily Mirror; Clem Jones, from the Wolverhampton Express; Eric Todd of the Manchester Evening Chronicle and The Guardian; and George Bell and Ted Townshend of the Daily Telegraph. 

The film, which was made by students of Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 1999, also includes someone called Alastair McIntyre (who he – Ed?) who addresses the public from the Daily Express offices in Blackfriars. 

Runtime is 16 minutes.
*****

DroneTube Exclusive

The Crusader Years 1900-1990

Only in the Drone: This video was supplied to Express staff in 1990 and is now published on the web for the first time. 

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© 2005-2018 Alastair McIntyre