LORD DRONE’S MIGHTY FLEET STREET ORGAN,
THE WORLD’S GREATEST ONLINE NEWSPAPER
THE ALTERNATIVE MEDIA DAILY
THURSDAY 30 NOVEMBER 2023
Dear Lord Drone — I was sad to read the letter from someone named Polly Anna … a pseudonym for someone too timid to step into the limelight I think, because I don’t remember the name in our parish.
How sad that Polly or perhaps Olly if she is a he, is confused and hasn’t grasped the reason for The Drone’s being … which is of course to be a time capsule for Fleet Street hacks who lived through the heady days of the 60s, 70s, 80s and onwards of our historic street and time. All this, wonderfully edited by you.
It is a nostalgic, sometimes newsy, satirical and whimsical look back at better days in Fleet Street, a bible of our lives, and not a sort of Woman’s Own, Spectator kind of thing that he/she craves.
As Polly appears not to contribute anything to our much loved tome of the past and present, perhaps she could concentrate on polishing up her letter writing skills. Point One is to check her facts.
There is no word count for the Daily Drone. And secondly, only one columnist wrote about crosshead placement, not two. Thirdly, nostalgia isn’t ‘mawkish’ … it is part of the British way of life. Perhaps Pitiful Polly/Olly might like to ban Remembrance Day. She appears to be one of those!
LOOKING BACK IN ANGER
Sir — Thank God the seemingly interminable series Yesterday Once More has ground to an end. It was yet another example of the way the Drone is preoccupied by mawkish nostalgia these days. Why, two of your so-called columnists even exceed their word count limit (again) by reminiscing about crosshead placement — back in the 80s. I ask you.
Time to look forward, your Lordship: to lift your eyes to the hills, to gaze upon sunlit uplands, to savour the promise of a brighter and better future.
Oh do bugger off, smartarse — Ed
Sir— On a weekend escape from Fleet Street to a posh West Country hotel, back in the Seventies, my wife and I found ourselves alone in the dining room, except for a solitary figure crouched at a corner table — none other than the legendary Bernard Levin.
Though we had never met, I felt I should introduce myself as a fellow journalist and invite him in a friendly fashion to join us for a post-prandial cognac.
“No thank you,” he replied coldly, looking straight ahead.
An oddball indeed.
CRYSTAL BALLSTER VINDICATED
Sir— I imagine your resident soothsayer G R Petulengro-Frame will be celebrating the long awaited fulfillment of his many forecasts of the defenestration of Suella Braverman.
But will he invoke the memorable cry of the Prince of Darkness, Jimmy Nicholson, FLOOD THE BAR WITH DRINKS?
I think we should be told.
Name and Address Not Supplied.
PAWS FOR THOUGHT
M'lud — West Monmouth School has written to parents saying it would not provide litter trays to pupils identifying as cats.
The letter includes the following: ‘Whilst we are an inclusive school, we do not make any provision for pupils who might identify as an animal of any kind. This behaviour is not acceptable at school.’
The school has been forced to respond to rumours spread via social media by parents.
Can people get any more stupid?
I think they can.
ANYONE REMEMBER KEVIN?
Sir — I am trying to find out some information about a former Editor of your newspaper. I have a few vague bits of information and I am hoping you can fill in the blanks.
Somewhere between 1949 and 1952 he was the editor of the Giles cartoons, possibly just the Sunday edition. His first name was Kevin. I do not know his last name. He passed away in 1951 or 1952 (not terribly sure of the year here) and I do not know how he died. I would very much appreciate if you could look in your records and give me his last name and how he died?
Anything you can provide will be greatly appreciated.
EXCEEDINGLY BAD KIPLING
Sir -- Regarding Alan Frame's latest outbreak of Suellaphobia, I can only say: You're a Braverman than I am, Gunga Din.
With apologies to the Bard of Empire.
BLOODY BRAVERMAN AGAIN
Sir — At the risk of offending the Old Blighty Patriotic Front (Dollis Hill division) I feel the need to return to the issue of Ms Braverman, the most right wing and non-achieving Home Secretary in living memory. She advocates sweeping away the homeless who live in tiny, spindly tents claiming it is ‘lifestyle choice.’ Rishi Sunak refused to include it in the King’s Speech, though it could still turn up in legislation not yet outlined.
Sunak realised it wouldn’t have been a good look for the King. Just imagine the optics (as we now say apparently): The King arrives in an ornate coach surrounded by liveried flunkies at the Sovereign’s Entrance at Westminster. He is swathed in ermine on top of a uniform covered with braid and medals and gold. Atop his head is a crown covered with diamonds.
Sitting on his throne in the Lords he reads: ‘My government will sweep away vagrants and their tents from our streets because their lifestyle choice constitutes a nuisance to my responsible citizens.’
I rest my case.
Latest whispers from the Drone’s mole at Westminster suggest that Braverman is hoping Sunak will sack her so she can challenge him for the leadership — Ed
ROMANCING THE STONE
Sir — “Another sub, in glasses with pen” in Dick's picture of the stone is actually Night Editor Peter Johnson. Brilliant Expressman. Don't know why he left — possibly booze related — but he became PR for one of the big auction houses.
He would often still turn up in the Press Club on big news nights. Sadly, I guess he couldn't let go.
Thanks also to Alan Hill for identifying Johnson — Ed
In your photograph of Monty Modular badgering the ever-patient Robin Esser, is Monty fully clothed? There appears to be naked flesh below Monty’s jacket, which he never took off. Perhaps he was wearing very light coloured trews.
I think we should be told.
Concerned of This Parish
Anything went in those days — Ed
A NUT FROM NUTWOOD WRITES …
Sir — Hacking my way through an undergrowth of verbiage in one of the columns taking up space in the Drone, I came across the phrase ‘Rupert Bear patterned underpants’ as if they were, some how, odd.
I’ll have you know that those of us who toiled in Nutwood in those difficult days were grateful for any freebies on offer.
I, myself, particularly treasure a Bill the Badger loin cloth from that era and my lady wife looks very fetching in her silk headscarf featuring Bingo The Brainy Pup.
NAME & ADDRESS SUPPLIED
ALL WHITE ON THE NIGHT?
Sir — With the festive season approaching I am wondering whether I will be allowed to play my favourite Bing Crosby recording of White Christmas?
I know it’s the best-selling song of all time, but it does start off “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, Just like the ones I used to know . . . “
I’m worried the immigrant couple up the road may be upset by these neocolonialist non-inclusive sentiments, and might have to be taken to a safe place to be comforted until their hurt subsides.
Sir — My only direct contact with Sir Bobby Charlton was rather different to David Richardson's [see below]. Charlton was to contribute an article to the Express and I rang him to confirm the payment of £200 (it was a long time ago). He told me to forward it to a children's hospice in Manchester which he apparently regularly supported. I told him we would acknowledge his generosity in the paper but he insisted we shouldn't. Just one example of his kindness and humility.
BOBBY’S BRUSH OFF
David Richardson staff.
Last night comma at his luxury home in Cheshire comma Bobby Charlton refused to comment after being dropped by Manchester United for the first time point end
The was my one and only contact with the soccer great.
I was a newbie at the DX in MX when legendary news editor Bob Blake called me over.
You are a Geordie and perfect for this job. Go and ask Charlton how he feels about being axed.
So, with a photographer, I headed off to the Charlton pad in Lymm.
He answered the door and I asked the question.
“Fuck off son,” and the door slammed.
M'lud — Wonderful entry in the Metro's Today In History section:
1961, Henri Matisse's Le Bateau attracted big crowds when it went on show in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was not until 116,000 people had seen it, 46 days later, that someone noticed that it was hanging upside down.
Art for art's sake!
Sir — More bleak news for your correspondent P. Edant of another battle irretrievably lost. Today’s Times crossword (16 Oct, 18 dn) rules that 'decimate' is now a synonym for 'wipe out'.
We old buffers should probably have run up the white flag in 2015 when, on BBC's Election Night Special, poor old Paddy Ashdown rubbished the idea that his Liberals would be 'decimated' and any watching sub who had read a style book thought: 'You should be so lucky matey'.
c/o St Jude's
A LUTA CONTINUA
Sir — Top marks, P Edant. The intrusive “of” must be banished! I should of (have) mentioned it myself.
In the meantime, a Morning Star headline reads “Thousands take to streets for to voice their support for besieged Palestinians”. Eh? There’s a stray “for” in there. Either the sub is a Scotsman or he was a trifle over-lacquered.
And can we have a moratorium on “showcasing”? Also “cuddly” and “adorable” to describe fairly unremarkable Royal children, babies and puppies? You know who I’m talking about, DM!
Sir — The scene: the Daily Express Big Room. Editor Derek Marks addresses Andy Carson on details of a story he’s subbing.
Carson: Aye, okay, I’ll sort it out, Mister . . . er . . . Mister . . . umm . . . Mister . . . aah . . .
The room goes quiet.
Cue laughter all round. Even Mister, er, Marks joins in. (A rare sight).
DRIVEN OFF OF MY MIND
Sir – Could you please ask Old Prodnose to campaign against the needless "of", as in "all of''? Example: All of the pubs were open. There are exceptions of course. "And so say all of us" comes to mind. But generally speaking it's happening all of the time.
My Lord — wonderful memories in today's Drone.
David Laws WAS the hardest-working sub in Fleet Street.
And I bet he was still beavering away on his latest novel until the moment the paramedics knocked on his front door. A wonderful servant of the DX and later the SX.
Andy Carson was another legend fondly remembered.
He was chief subbing one New Year's Day when I rang him early afternoon to say I was unfit for work owing to over-extensive refreshments on New Year's Eve.
His reply? "Aye, young Tony, that's a perfectly acceptable excuse. See yer tomorrow."
Andy, of course, had still managed to make it in.
We shall not see their like again.
(DX & SX, various times from 1969 -75 and 90 - 96)
IT’S AITCH NOT HAITCH!
Dear Lord Drone — When is some Prodnose at the BBC going to tell Amol Rajan, the matey, newish quizmaster of University Challenge, that "H" ain't "Haitch", it's "Aitch"?
FOR THE LOVE OF SUELLA
Sir — I note yet another swipe at Suella Braverman by the Drone’s top columnist and political crystal ballster. Surely this obsession of his with ending her career can only be explained by deep and hidden feelings of unrequited love?
Does it, perhaps, date from when she was a law student at Cambridge and he was a Fleet Street big noise? Did he pinch her bottom in the pub one night and get his face slapped?
I suggest Private Eye’s romantic scribbler Silvi Krin should be coaxed out of retirement to tell the full heart-throbbing tale.
Name and Address Not Supplied
Sorry, Silvi Krin is washing her hair — Ed
UNDERNEATH THE ARCHIVES
Sir — Forget tedious, up-your-bum so-called ‘columns’ (and thank fuck the Country Boys bore has decided to call it a day), it’s the archive material that makes the Drone so valuable.
I was delighted to spot among the faces in the Evening Standard pic one Peter Read. Chris Chalke, OTP (Down Under division) and I used to work with him on the Hereford Evening News exactly 60 years ago.
In a Field
So farewell Country Boys, you will be missed. And I confess I didn’t seen that coming.
Apropos recent correspondence concerning “the horrible, unspeakable irks (oiks?), who made lives a misery for their fellow DX workers … to cover up their obvious shortcomings as journalists,” I have to admit to feeling more than a little fortunate that my life was never made a misery by anyone, be it the DX or any of the other daily and Sunday newspapers I worked on. Indeed, the guys in more senior positions were always friendly, understanding and highly amusing.
Is it possible that whoever suffered at the hands of the “irks” brought the so-called misery on themselves?
NO RAY OF SUNSHINE
Sir — By applying the P G Wodehouse test, one concludes that the mysterious “long retired DX subeditor” who rants against unidentified former workmates could well be a Scotsman with a grievance.
But who? William Q Montgomery sadly passed away (as we are obliged to phrase it these days) some time ago.
Who else? Names must be named etc.
DEAD UNFAIR …
Scanning tearfully through your obituaries, one common factor links them all … the Lord, in all his alleged wisdom, culls only The Good Guys.
The Late List is endless but presumably living on, quite undeservedly, are the horrible, unspeakable irks who made lives a misery for their fellow DX workers. We all know who they are … those who regularly monstered colleagues to cover up their obvious shortcomings as journalists.
Bet you won’t print a list of their names. If you did, they wouldn’t come back to haunt you because those arseholes refuse to die!
Yours sincerely, DX sub-editor, long retired and still in God’s Waiting Room.
THE NOT SO FAMOUS FIVE
Sir — Angela Rippon’s appearance as a Strictly Come Dancing contestant reminded me of something that tickled me 40 years ago and still makes me smile today.
It has nothing to do with the former TV presenter, however — rather Peter Jay, the distinguished journalist, who was, for a short time in the early Eighties, her boss at TV-am, the ill-fated ITV breakfast programme.
Ms Rippon, of course, was one of the so-called Famous Five, who, with David Frost, Michael Parkinson, Anna Ford and Robert Kee, presented the show seven days a week.
The label was coined, unsurprisingly, by Fleet Street subs because of the huge success of Enid Blyton’s 21 Famous Five novels and a long-running TV series, Everyone, it seemed, had heard of Blyton’s five adventuring characters – even if they hadn’t read her books.
Well, not the erudite, ultra-intelligent Mr Jay, I was to discover.
After he was sacked as CEO of TV-am, in 1983, Jay was employed as Chief of Staff by Robert Maxwell, who had just bought the Daily Mirror. For some reason I can’t remember, I wanted to put an idea to Maxwell and was invited to Maxwell House to meet him.
I found Peter Jay a charming, welcoming gentleman and we chatted amiably while I waited for my audience with the millionaire mogul. After some pretty meaningless chit-chat, Jay looked at me, very intently, and said: “I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to ask you something that’s been puzzling me for some time.”
Not sure how to respond, I just shrugged and said: “Go ahead.”
"It’s to do with the Famous Five,” Jay said. “The phrase was bandied about all over the place, in the papers, on TV, and everyone clearly knew what it meant. But I didn’t. And still don’t. Do you know?”
I said I did, and gave him a brief run-down on the Enid Blyton success story. But I have to admit I was astonished he knew nothing of the Famous Five. If he didn’t know, and wanted to, why, in the three years since he was fired from TV-am, had he not asked anyone?
Is it simply that, as old Etonian, former British Ambassador to the U.S., and someone once regarded as the cleverest man in Britain, he was too embarrassed to admit his ignorance? And, in me, he saw someone so insignificant in his life, he didn’t give a toss what I thought.
As I say, why he chose to ask me tickled me then, and still does today.
THE DUKE BREAKS COVER
G’Day Lord Drone — Here I am in the far reaches of a dwindling Commonwealth, enjoying a sip or two of the amber nectar and reading my favourite online newspaper, I especially enjoy the musings of your three fine columnists, Dick Dismore, Alan Frame and Terry Manners among many other gems.
Imagine my surprise when Terry gave acknowledgement (king of the Hollywood jungle, 11th Sept ) to a long-lost relative, Picture Editor Kristine Bogcanovitch (Department of Utter Bollocks ). I thought she had been committed long ago, very strange lady . Please pass on my regards if you see her again.
I look forward to many more insights into the Twilight Zone that masqueraded as ‘Fleet Street’ for a Golden era.
Best wishes to all.
A devoted reader ,
CHRIS DJUKANOVIC, (aged 72 3/4)
Somewhere in Australia
THE WRIGHT STUFF
Sir — Enjoyed the Roy Wright anecdotes. He has certainly disappeared from sight apart from a routine Wiki entry. I found no trace of him while writing my memoirs in 2018. An alien abduction might be the answer.
The trigger for his departure was the infamous CHARLES TO MARRY ASTRID splash, to which headline he added the word OFFICIAL, with no justification whatever. And of course the story turned out to be bollocks anyway. Talk about hubris.
The blameless princess went on to marry Prince Lorenz of Belgium and have six children. A lucky escape, no doubt.
STANDING UP FOR RUGBY’S MAVERICKS
Sir — Dick Dismore makes some interesting points on the back of Danny Cipriani’s auto biog which, in turn, reopens the Mavericks v the Pragmatists (ie Marcus Smith - Owen Farrell) debate in rugby.
Dick rightly mentions Stuart Barnes whose treatment by England’s safety first selectors is nothing short of scandalous. Ten caps! Barnes played early club rugby for Newport and represented and captained Wales at junior level. Had he chosen to be considered for a full Welsh cap, do we imagine that his talent would have been squandered thus?
Cipriani, a Mav similarly ill treated, makes the point that selectors always seem to prefer Prags: all action grunts who fling themselves into tackles then leap to their feet to do it all over again. I imagine Farrell rather prides himself on his robust tackling. But he’s missing the point. In his book Cip comments wryly that it’s what you do when you’re on your feet that’s important.
He echoes Gareth Davies, a silky fly half for Cardiff and Wales a generation ago. He was criticised for not tackling enough which he rebutted by asking: what’s the point of the team’s playmaker lying on the ground and being out of the game?
Borthwick and Co: Take note!
WHAT A … ER … CLOT
Sir — What was Gillian Keegan thinking of? And I’m not talking about the foul-mouthed rant that sparked the latest Tory mess. To offer the crass apology of “It was an off-the-cuff remark,” is not an answer one would expect from any MP, let alone the Education Secretary. I could think of a number of four-letter words she could have used instead of ‘cuff’ as an excuse for her stupidity … and each one begins with C. Who elects these morons?
A bank manager was unfairly sacked for seeking advice on what to do if he heard a black person using the N-word at work, a tribunal has ruled.
Carl Borg-Neal, 58, raised the question during a Lloyds Bank race education training session, but in doing so inadvertently used the full word himself. He apologised immediately.
It left the woman leading the exercise apparently so 'badly distressed' that she had to take a week off.
Now that's what I call pulling a sickie!
HOW NON U
Sir — It's Qantas, Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services. I can see why Dumpster needs a break. You can't get a decent sub anywhere these days. (Good spot, Stewpot! — Ed)
GREAT MODULAR DISASTER (CONT)
Milord — Further to your recent item on Monty Modular and the Great DX80 Disaster, it seems modularity doesn't work in the building business either.
My local primary school in Northamptonshire is one of three ordered to close by the government, over structural safety fears. The others are in Essex and Somerset and all were built by a firm called Caledonian Modular, which is now in administration.
These modular schools were put together at speed from prefabricated sections and have been assessed as being unable to withstand extreme weather conditions like high winds and heavy snow. They may have to be rebuilt.
No fault of our Monty, of course.
QUEER GOINGS ON
M'lud, from The Mail on Sunday: — A lesbian speed dating event, (yes apparently they do exist) is at the centre of a transphobia row after the organiser insisted that only 'adult human females' can attend. Last week, Jenny Watson, a town planner who runs the nights posted on her website: 'If you are a male, please refrain from coming to the events, you are not a lesbian.’
Ms Watson said: 'Last year, a person turned up sporting a purple latex outfit ... and an erection.’
How ghastly ... purple latex.
BRAVO THE NHS
M’Lord — Further to Ten Tel’s NHS experiences, [see next letter] my wife and I have been slumming it in the south of France for 18 years, surrounded by vineyards and failing in our attempts to drink them dry.
While not perfection, the French health service is magnificent. No waiting lists, instant appointments with specialists and GPs.
Need a new hip — can you pop in next week?
Hospital stays mean a maximum of two to a room but a private room is guaranteed if, as most of us do, you have top up insurance.
Imagine my horror when last Christmas Day I became ill while visiting our children, grandchildren, in the UK. All I had read and seen from afar were tales of a disintegrating NHS.
So it was with trepidation that four days later, at 0100, I was on my way to North Middlesex University Hospital in an ambulance with sirens and blue lights. Paramedics suspected pneumonia.
A doctor examined me immediately and I was diagnosed with covid and flu, put on oxygen and kept in A&E isolation overnight.
The following morning I was taken up to the “Penthouse Suite” — a small isolation ward for six with panoramic views over London — where two consultants were soon around my bed.
After four days of intense treatment and round-the-clock care I was well enough to eat again.
What happened next was amazing — an orderly produced a glossy six-page menu for breakfast lunch and dinner with a myriad of choices. While not cordon bleu, the meals were good enough to eat.
On the day of my discharge, as a non-UK taxpayer, I asked for a bill for a health insurance claim.
There was no charge.
I visited my GP on return to France. He is English and combines doctoring with owning three vineyards.
He inspected my hospital report and was amazed at the quality of my treatment and the cost of some of the drugs I was on.
All is well now and, as a bonus, I ceased smoking on Christmas Day.
Thank you NHS.
EMERGENCY WARD TEL
My Dear Lord Drone — I read with great dismay Dickie Dismore’s column highlighting the disturbing news that one in four GPs now has private medical insurance because 7.5 million are waiting for treatment.
Of course, we all have opinions on the reasons why the NHS is as sick as the patients themselves … from blaming politicians and hospital management to striking doctors and even patients themselves demanding to be seen in A&E with an ingrown toenail.
And there is no doubt that in some quarters the spirit and caring of historic icons like Florence Nightingale have disappeared along with the flame in her lamp, as striking medical staff chase money to keep up with the cost of Costa coffee.
Just this week, I experienced first-hand the NHS conundrum when I was taken to A&E with internal pain from a previous medical procedure. Not pleasant. Imagine my relief then, when the double glass doors to the waiting room opened and I was checked in. My joy was short-lived when I sat and roughly counted 40 ailing souls before me. It was 3.30pm.
I listened … one woman had suffered leg cramps in bed the night before and was sure she might never walk again; another woman was being sick into a pillowcase as her son explained she had mixed her drinks; an elderly man showed me a rash on his elbow and a mother didn’t like the look of a bruise on the leg of her son after football. All true.
Rescue came when I was directed to a new set of doors and the priority room. Relief. But imagine my gloom when I was confronted by another 30 plus people squeezed into chairs. Finally, I was ushered into a quiet little ‘cupboard’ and assured a doctor had been alerted to come from urology.
Six hours later, after three polite enquiries from my wife and counting every little leg on a Lowry print on the wall, the lady doctor arrived, full of apologies.
No one had been alerted in urology at all … she had just started the night shift and seen my problems on the list. But no one had told urology. Later that night, after treatment, I was helped to a taxi and passed drug addicts being sick all over the pavement entrance; patients with drips in one hand and a cigarette in the other under No Smoking warnings and two elderly women in wheelchairs sharing a husband’s can of Carlsberg. What difference would yet more money for the NHS make, I wondered?
Dollis Hill Rest Home.
PITY THE POOR CAPTION WRITER
Sir — I sympathise with messrs Dismore and Manners, but shurely the plight of the Daily Express Weather Sub was nowhere near as miserable as that of the (drum roll) Caption Writer?
While these Friends of Iris could take take hours to complete their task — thus putting off the moment when they would be handed some real work to do — the poor sod responsible for those damned 10pt Square Gothic captions under every news picture was banished to a windowless room in the art department and forced to beg information from photographers, the uncooperative News Desk and even more hostile senior sub editors..
A successful night consisted of avoiding abuse from production supremo Maj Morris Benet MC, for delaying the edition, and not being told to fuck off more than once.
I heard tell of a previous incumbent who was found kneeling pale-faced in St Bride’s during his break and had to be helped back to the office by consoling colleagues. Rumour has it he resigned shortly after to take holy orders and subsequently became Archbishop of Addis Ababa.
Flong Sub? Cowes Slip Sub? Don’t get me started. Our Back Bench glory had to be earned.
TIME AND TIDE
Dick Dismore's fear of subbing the Daily Express weather panel was well-founded.
I think I selected the ski resorts with a pin. I'd never stepped onto a ski slope and had no idea which ones Max Aitken would wish to check. But I got away with it.
However, it wasn't half as worrying as doing the weather in my days as a trainee reporter on the Newcastle Journal.
The panel included the Holy Island Crossing Times. This meant perusing tide tables to work out when it was safe to drive across the long causeway connecting the island to the mainland.
Was it 4 hours? Or 4.5 hours before high tide? Nightmares!
Figures are not my strongpoint and I was threatened with the sack if we caused anyone's car to be washed off the causeway.
Visiting Newcastle years later, The Journal landed on my hotel breakfast table, featuring a large front page picture of a car, standing upright in the sea beside Holy Island, with just its boot visible. How we did laugh.
I do hope The Journal reporter wasn't to blame?
MONSEWER TONY BOULLEMIER
By cleft stick
WEATHER BOOK WAS A COLD AFFRONT TO THE SUBS
My Dear Lord Drone — Your columnist Dick Dismore’s nostalgic memories of the Weather Book bring back wonderful recollections of the subs table on the Express in the 1970s, as does the snippet about Billy Montgomery and the much disliked 5.30pm shift.
In those heady times the News Subs Table was split into fiefdoms, no-go zones and the rule of personal egos which survived many years, of course. Many long-serving and older talented subs believed they had the right to work their own hours … the 3.30 to 11pm shift to them was starting around 3pm-ish and disappearing before 8.30pm-ish four days a week.
They were still in the parish of course and could be found in The Albion; The Punch or the Poppinjay. Hence these hallowed souls would never be handed the Weather Book to compile the forecast for the edition.
The forecast was that the hapless executive who dared hand out the task would have it returned to where the sun didn't shine. Hence new blood suffered the task of working out the tides and more.
For many who don’t know, the Weather Book was a red or blue foolscap, hardcover tome in the top right-hand drawer of iconic copy-taster Les Diver’s desk on the Backbench, next to the salt and pepper pots and a few stale and curly canteen chips that had dropped off his plate the night before. A4 pages, crammed with data on ski resort temps; high and low tides; Moon phases; sunrise, sunset, lighting up times, general weather in the regions and more had been pasted in for the subs to follow from a galaxy of sources. Ugh.
No wonder, as Dick says, it was better to come in a few minutes late and escape the beady eye of Diver watching the subs entrance by the yellowing toilets and military green lockers, ready to pounce.
The creative part of the job came at the end when the sub was by now an expert on the next day’s weather forecast. This was the sexy bit … Iris the Express weather girl. Scores of pages with cartoon pictures of a leggy young lady carrying a brolly, sunbathing, skirt flapping in the wind and jumping over puddles. The sub would choose a cartoon figure to match his version of the weather nationwide and then write a caption …
“The rain will ruin my hair; don’t forget to put on your suncream” or I’m shivering!”
Creative stuff. It took up to half an hour or more.
The really humiliating moment of course came as you returned the weather book to Kiwi Diver who by now might be lost in a conversation about ‘one-eyed trouser snakes’, a particular topic of his.
By now you had missed the early hand out of stories and do-ups and all-around people were subbing page leads; court cases; colour captions and political shenanigans. You felt you had been given ‘the freeze’. But that’s another story.
Sunny Dollis Hill, Neasden
Sir — Examination by Dick and Rick of the decline in the Express in the Eighties calls to mind the frequent lurches ‘upmarket’ and ‘down market’ demanded by the hapless senior management.
I remember one evening at about 6 (presumably after another fatuous board meeting) when I, as Night Editor, was advised that headline sizes should be dramatically reduced and that left hand pages, especially P2, should be packed with news.
Thus, that night the first edition, at least, went with 60pt or even 72pt heads on 25x4 pages already gone at the back of the book and 48pt on P3, 5 and 7. Oh, and Geoff Compton, sitting on my left, crammed 37 stories and shorts on to P2!
DOES HARRY REALLY NEED TO KNOW?
Dear Lord Drone — Strolling through recent letters, I came across a missive from someone who charmingly signs himself Tenerife Tel and it struck me that if Mail Online gets rid of Desperate Dan Wootton, this chap from the Canary Islands would make the perfect replacement. Their views on Prince Harry, for example, appear to be so similar that any transition would be seamless.
I will not — nay, cannot — argue Tel’s sabre thrusts into the character of the not-so-young Harry. He is foolish, naive, vain, short of a few brain cells (as is the entire Royal Family), blaming, complaining and in possession of most of the other negative qualities that are cut and pasted by tabloid journalists.
But if there was a time, perhaps the first and only time, when Harry demonstrated a previously well-hidden genius, it was in the act of Getting Out. He prised open the bars of the gilded cage, scaled the Palace walls in a single bound and hot-footed it as fast — and as far away — as his little legs could carry him.
That he immediately collected in excess of a hundred million from even more naive broadcasters and publishers is worthy of nothing less than total admiration.
Who cares that Harry doesn’t know how the Press works? He may well lose the case but he's having fun squeezing the lemon.
CONFUSING AND LOSING READERS
Sir — Dick Dismore's dissection of the decline of the Daily Express is spot on. What a sad tale of neglect, incompetence and bad judgement!
I can add another dimension. After abandoning the ill-conceived DX80 in the late 1970s, the Express went tabloid — belatedly following the revamp of the Daily Mail by David English in 1971.
To the surprise of many, the tabloid launched well and began clawing back some of the circulation lost after decades of clueless management and a raft of mainly ineffective editors (I worked with eight).
But within weeks shipping tycoon and Express publishing new boy Lord Matthews decided to launch the Daily Star to soak up print capacity in Manchester. Inevitably, the instruction went out to the Express to row back on its lively presentation to give the new paper a chance. "Let the Star do the exciting stuff."
Dumbing up? How to confuse, and lose, readers.
HUW AND CRY
Sir — The trouble with you is that you wouldn’t know a good picture if it bit you on the bum and gnawed away at the subcutaneous fat lying therein. What has happened to that nostalgic portrait of Fleet Street’s Famous Five which enhanced the Drone and gave it much needed credibility? Are we consigned to be mere overmatter now?
NAME AND ADDRESS SUPPLIED
All right, all right, I surrender — Ed
COVID WITCH HUNT
My Dear Lord Drone,
I am all for the Covid Inquiry. Of course, we must take a long, hard look at where we went wrong and right while fighting this batty virus that killed at will. But I have lost count of the number of politicians and members of the public appearing on TV and writing in the Press, to turn this period of our history into a witch hunt as blood thirsty as the Pendle witch trials of 1612.
For instead of trampling the innocent witches to death under doors laid across their heads, as they did in York 400 years ago, they want to see people lose their careers, pensions and be jailed … or go on parole with benefits. As one lady said to TV cameras in the street: “It’s all that Matt Hancock’s fault. He’s guilty. Apologies are no good!” Guilty? Really? Of what? Guilty before charged and no evidence heard?
Of course, people are emotionally upset about not being able to say farewell to their loved ones or tend to their relatives. But their friends and kin were killed by a mystery coronavirus probably from the sinister depths of a murky Chinese cave laboratory, plotting destruction of the West, not our health minister at the time; the Tory Party or Boris.The world didn't know what to do.
The Covid-19 Inquiry has been set up to examine the UK’s response to and impact of the pandemic and learn lessons for the future. Not provide modern-day stocks to satisfy peoples’ bloodlust.
This, of course, is party celebration cake time for Labour and LibDems. They appear to be revelling in it after failing to come up with even hindsight policies to tackle immigration, the cost of living and rising interest rates. Nowhere was the anger felt more strongly against this witch hunt than on my recent visit to my nephew’s pickled onion stall at the Neasden Omnibus union’s charity market day in No. 232’s maintenance depot.
One-handed Willy, son of Wally Foot, Neasden FC’s iconic and legendary one-legged goalkeeper, had turned my crusty shallots into a fine jar of golden brown pickled onions for his stall, boasting his own merlot and lemonade recipe. (One of your writer Richard Dismore’s favourite tipples, I have been told).
Willy Foot, who gave up a promising cricket career because he struggled to bat one-handed and has followed in his father’s footstep as goalkeeper for the plucky side which came close to scoring a goal last season, invited me to the works canteen famed for its culinary skills. Over a hot dog and onions, the lads and lasses all agreed that most members of the public hadn’t got a clue what went on in government … or could even do the job. Even tea lady Agnes McTwerker had to admit that she thought ISIS was a washing powder. Why do these people have the vote workers asked?
Seat fitter, Mohammed Backsaw had the last word. “I like that Matt Hancock, Did you know that he sent me free Vitamin D tablets and a personal letter during Lockdown?”
So there, you have it M’Lud. Another moan about England today from Neasden. As if moving the grave of hero Dambuster Wing Co Guy Gibson’s faithful and now nameless black Labrador from its grave next to his hanger at Scampton to make way for thousands of illegal male immigrants, hadn’t upset them enough.
And now even the RAF admit they have done it because they say that in today’s England stories of our historic war glory are changed and tampered with to pamper with the beliefs of others who weren’t even there. Thank God, the RAF snatched our hero’s dog away.
TENERIFE TEL, born within the sound of Neasden depot’s bus bells.
A PROPER CHARLIE?
Sir — While taking my afternoon nap aboard a French river boat — as one does — I was awakened by a knock on my cabin door.
Imagine my surprise when a smiling King Charles appeared dressed in a bright blue suit and red striped tie. Ahoy! I said, springing from my bunk. But His Majesty disappeared in a flash, leaving me royally baffled.
Had I merely experienced the well-documented British phenomenon of dreaming about the Monarch?
Was it, perhaps, the consequence of a surfeit of the best of Burgundy at lunch?
Or was there some deeper astrological significance in this visitation? Could Drone savant and noted crystal-ballster G R Petulengro-Frame, maybe provide guidance? We are both fervent royalists. Or at least I am.
ON THE JOB TRAINING
M'lud — An item catches my eye regarding The Body Coach aka Joe Wicks. He hosted a 20 minute High Intensity Interval Training ( HIIT) session at Glastonbury on Friday.
This reminds me of a memo that circulated around the Express back in the 70's regarding Special High Intensity Training ( SHIT), and the question posed at the end of the memo was "Are you getting enough SHIT on the job?"
They don't write 'em like that anymore.
OFF THE WALL
Sir – What's all this hoo-ha about Artificial Intelligence? If it gets uppity, just pull the plug out of the wall.
HARRY DOESN’T KNOW HOW THE PRESS WORKS
Dear Lord Drone, even being a Royalist like yourself, I am sadly coming to the end of Harry weeping ice buckets of tears into his Harrods decanter over his life-long agony of being a royal at the mercy of the ‘nasty’ tabloid Press.
For when I scratch the surface of his endless stories of misery I find a deeper reasoning behind his journey from the private Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital, London, where he had his first wail in Victoria’s royal birth shawl … to Buckingham Palace and on to a £12million mansion in the gated community of Montecito, California.
He simply does not like what people say about him in newspapers. It is not his own narrative.
Taking telephone hacking off the hook for a moment, his evidence in court is littered with his hatred of headlines and true newspaper reports of what he has done in his unhappy life, or about to do. These are hurtful and cut him to the core, he says. Worse, they have ruined him. The fact that they are true, cuts no ice for his Macallan whiskey.
His break-up with Zimbabwean millionaire Chelsy Davy for example was even blamed on the ‘prying eyes’ of the Press. His girlfriends, his drinking nights out and public parties, are out of bounds apparently. What is it he wants in his great crackdown on the media? Does he want a Commons committee to approve every headline? Must they ignore stories about the Royals unless they are marching at funerals? What?
He claims of course that such stories are gathered illegally. But he is his own evidence. There seems to be no other. Fact is that like so many people he does not know how the Press works in chasing up leads and reports. At the Express of course, we have had chief executives who didn’t know either. We never had the luxury of a Rupert Murdoch or a young Rothermere. People generally don’t know how the jigsaw of a newsroom fits together. Accountants ruled and there was no middle ground.
There is little doubt that there is a taxi rank of the rich and famous queuing up behind the anguished, multi-millionaire helicopter commander to crush the media. They sucked up to the Press in their early years, desperate for fame, but now want to be left to their spoils from the public money they took.
But such fame seekers should beware that even in the canteen of the Dollis Hill bus depot, where a picture of Neasden FC’s famed one-legged goalkeeper, Wally Foot, hangs over the tea urn, the lads and lasses of our country respect and want, the Freedom of the Press. Or they might not have a voice at all.
Dollis Hill, north of Buckingham Palace.
BOATS LATEST: NEASDEN LISTS TO STARBOARD
My dearest Lord Drone, just what is it that upsets your prophet of politics, Petulengro-Frame, about our Crusading defender of the Dover beaches, Baroness Braverman of Rwanda?
Who else will echo the voices of the silent majority behind the net curtains of windows from Guildford and Barnstaple to Redcar and Dollis Hill, if not her?
But as the boats keep flooding in with hundreds, nay thousands, of African illegal male immigrants seeking new Nikes and Samsungs, Petulengro tells us with glee that our champion’s days are numbered, and her dreams will be sunk in the incoming tide.
I write to you during a break in our George Formby ukulele lessons at Neasden Town Hall, where patriots have been discussing the reaction to Petulengro’s forecasts of doom. Not least from the eminent Lord Luck this week.
Nearly 200,000 British young ‘uns are homeless; many more are hungry; hospital waiting lists grow; schools overcrowded; government borrowing at a record high and food banks out of cornflakes but still the crisp-munching Linekers of this world sleepwalk through it all.
People waiting for St Braverman to fall off her mount, should remember that polls often get things wrong. As Labour waits to hand out leaflets on our beaches on how to vote for them and the BBC brands Braverman’s army of voters as Far Right nutters, watch this space.
Dollis Hill, Neasden.
PER ARDUA AD ASTROLOGY
Sir — It would seem that, for all his braggadocio, your resident soothsayer GR Petulengro-Frame has been wrong again regarding the sacking/non-sacking of the sainted Suella Braverman.
Was it a poor reading of his tea-leaves, perhaps, or the fact that Jupiter did not leave Orion and move into conjunction with Mars, that led to his wildly inaccurate prediction?
To avoid the further tainting of our proud profession, may I suggest he either repays Your Lordship’s generous retainer, or else takes his crystal balls in both hands and announces to the world an actual time and date of the good lady’s dismissal.
MORE CRYSTAL BALLS
Sir — In my role (unpaid of course) as Drone Resident Seer I have had to endure scorn, derision, mockery and many other things that mean the same. It was my forecast of the demise of Baroness Braverman of Rwanda which unleashed the vitriol aimed at my gifts as clairvoyant.
So ye cynics, what price do you give her chances now? It’s not as if little Rishi will go out of his way to save her, not when she has spent much of the week auditioning for his job. When not trying to avoid a speed awareness course that is.
Mark my words, the woman’s a wrong’un. She’ll be on her way in no time. But don’t pin me down for exact hour and day.
NEASDEN STRIKES BACK
My dearest Lord Drone,
Richard Dismore’s informative and enlightening Dispatches From The Front which focused on among other issues, Russia, where the only political swing will probably be Putin hanging from a lamp post, was well received by the patriotic Republic of Neasden.
And nowhere more so than in the saloon of The Royal Oak, where the night shift from the paint shop of the Neasden bus depot, erupted with anger as Putin’s mouthpiece Dmitry Kiselyov told news reporters that Moscow would Nuke London, Sunak and all, using a deadly underwater drone that would trigger a tidal wave plunging Blighty to the depths of the ocean.
“Come ‘ere and ‘ave some of this, then,” shouted one of the lads, shaking his fist at the screen in time-honoured Dollis Hill tradition. It is no wonder that your correspondent Mr Dismore is so popular on the walls of pubs and gents’ garden toilets, where make-do fan pictures of his look-alike, the late actor Jason King, adorn the walls and where ban-the-bomb marchers are banned.
In his piece Mr Dismore reminds us that Putin used the May Day Victory Parade to reinforce his own narrative about WWII, accusing the West of creating a new cult of Nazism and of forgetting who it was who defeated Hitler.
What on earth do these apparatchik bullies think would happen to them if they started slinging nukes around at Nato and Neasden? Do they really think they could return to their vodka bottles in their dachas? The lads in the paint shop have other ideas. The Kremlin should be wary. This is the land of Nelson, Wellington and Montgomery.
Putin needs to be reminded that he won WWII with 7,500 British planes and 6,000 British tanks … not ‘the loneliest little tank in the world’ he shed a tear for at the May Day parade.
Neasden Hysterical Society.
SAVE BLACKIE’S GRAVE
My dearest Lord Drone, another piece of dying national pride has been brought to my attention by union members of the Neasden Omnibus seat fitters and emergency stop lever installers, who, as you know are fiercely patriotic, in a company that once employed ex-Royal Hussars as drivers and conductors when their regiment was disbanded in 1958.
They are outraged that RAF Scampton, the home of the legendary and heroic Dambusters and latterly, the Red Arrows, is, as you know, being partly bulldozed to make way for an army of 2000 African male migrants. Already, signage on the fences where bus outings from Neasden brought workers’ families for picnics, have been ripped down and even the Red Arrows monument has vanished. There are no gates either.
But worse, the grave and monument to a famous and much-loved, unnamed dog is about to be bulldozed. I am talking of course about the loyal black Labrador pet of our hero Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar. We shall call his pet Blackie for the sake of political politeness following the race relations row over his real name.
Blackie was killed by a car at the base, shortly before Wing Commander Gibson flew on his famous raid to bomb the Möhne Dam. Some say it was a driver at the base with a grudge against Gibson.
The row to stop the base being used rumbles on and protestors joined by Neasden omnibus depot patriots, have lost their first legal battle. A bus trip from Dollis Hill to the site is planned and already the RAF has appealed to the local council, to save the site of Blackie, which could be moved. Your readers can find out more in their newspapers. Badges issued soon.
Dollis Hill, Neasden.
STINK OVER PONG HEADLINE
M’lud, the recent headline in your mighty organ “Just a flong at twilight” reminds of the occasion when Daily Star exec Andy Carson vented his spleen across the Manchester newsroom even more vociferously than usual.
The story was that a neighbourhood was upset by a local business allowing one of its chimneys to emit an obnoxious smell at the same time every day, around teatime.
These were hot metal days and Andy proudly sent his hand-written headline to the composing room…”Just a pong at twilight.” Cue an apoplectic Carson 20 minutes later when the stone sub rang the back bench. “Andy, your headline has bust. Can I make it Just a pong at dusk.”
Your loyal servant
STINK OVER AN INK POT
My Dear Lord Drone, there is an air of bewilderment about the Neasden Omnibus Depot in Dollis Hill, where my uncle is Shop Steward of the seat fitters for route 112 via Gladstone Hill and Willesden.
With a strong tradition of being Royalists, even staging their walkouts at Queen Victoria Gardens or Gladstone Park, they are running a book on why Harry gave his father, the King, the gift of an ink pot on his accession to the throne ... when Charles is forbidden to touch one under the strict rules of Royal protocol in case he makes a mess signing official documents and stains his robes.
Uncle Tom Cobblers sought my advice in the matter but as our dearest friend, former Royal Correspondent Ashley Walton, is sadly no longer with us, I had nowhere to go for the answer. Can you help?
My own experience of ink pots is through audiences with Sir Nicholas Lloyd as the print clock was ticking and I waited patiently to get Page One approved in his office while he concentrated on filling his Mont Blanc in deadly silence, for what always seemed a lifetime.
Twiggy Borough of Neasden
KEEPING THE FAITH
Sir — May I dissociate myself from the tedious ramblings of your Faith-based correspondents, whom I don’t know from Adam, and assure your lordship that I will continue to give the Drone 100% support.
Sir — If you persist in publishing the inaccurate and tedious ramblings of fantasists and charlatans we will have no alternative but to cancel our subscription to the Daily Drone.
ADAM FAITH APPRECIATION SOCIETY
Sir — Us, too.
OLIVER REED FAN CLUB
Sir — Me, also.
Sir — Och aye.
LAIRDS OF CLACH-NA-CINNEAMHAIN
FAMOUS SEATS WHAT I HAVE SAT ON
My Dearest Lord Drone — I seek use of your renowned Mighty Organ to wrestle with your columnist William Dumpster who reported I was obsessed with a morbid fascination into the life and particularly death of 50s/60s pop icon Adam Faith.
It is true that I was always a fan of the tussle-haired blond lad in the black leather jacket who burst on to the pop scene with his hit What Do You Want (If You Don’t Want Money). And then went on to make £41million before being declared bankrupt and died broke in the Stoke Hotel I often stayed in.
But I now have it on good authority that his last words to a vet’s receptionist he was privately entertaining, were not ‘what good value BBC2 was’ but … according to a highly-placed newspaper source of mine: ‘watching TV together, Adam turned to her in bed and said (along the lines of) “what a load of shit there is on Channel 4…’ – and then he died!”
Of course, none of this may be true. Nor the fact that she worked in a vet’s. She worked in a Kent mobile phone shop, I am told.
However, to all the people who wrote to me about the snippet, some saying it is a load of Fleet St bollocks and others who share my fascination for famous people who died, I can confirm I keep a diary of all the seats of the famous and dead I have sat on …
They are many and include:
1. Sitting on Scotland’s Stone of Destiny (The Stone of Scone) sat on by Scottish Kings back to the ninth century for their coronations. It was stolen in 1950 and returned to Edinburgh in the late 1990s. Charles will sit on it.
2. Sitting sipping chardonnay on the stone seat Napoleon rested while drinking brandy as he counted his warships in Valletta Harbour.
3. Sitting on his seat in legendary actor Oliver Reed’s favourite drinking haunt in Malta, The Pub. He fell off it and died after drinking eight pints of lager, 12 double rums and half a bottle of whiskey, during which time he won an arm-wrestling contest with the crew of HMS Cumberland. The seat is now a shrine. I thank you.
Still sitting down
Sir — This Dominic Raab saga is a load of bollocks in my view. Bullying? Aggression? Intimidation? The snowflakes have seen nothing.
I worked with someone who punched me on the arm, threatened to smash my chest in, made me eat chips even when I was on a diet and over-filled my copy basket forcing me to make choices. Worst of all, he belittled me by asking me if I’d ever thought of being a journalist when I thought I was one.
NAME & ADDRESS SUPPLIED
Truth and Reconciliation Suite
I WAS THERE TOO
Sir — I must be Number 10,002 on your list of the usual suspects who witnessed Kelvin MacKenzie's famous fucking off of Felicity Green.
The incident, recalled in my memoir What Genius Wrote This? (Matador, 2018, now pulping), happened during the extraordinary few weeks of Kelvin's reign as simultaneously Night Editor of the Daily Express and Editor of The Sun.
With both managements eyeballed in a legal stand-off, Kelvin was in his element, legging it nightly between the two papers, mocking poor editor Arthur Firth, pissing off the night lawyers and giving short shrift to Deputy Editor Ted Dickinson, not to mention Ms Green.
Lord Maffews finally sacked Firth, Kelvin scuttled up the road to Bouverie Street glory. The era of Christopher Ward — all trendy boots and oversized specs — dawned on the Express, and we all know how that ended.
Incidentally, the features' subs had much ruder names for the lady in question. In deference to her great age I shall forbear to mention them.
LABOURING A POINT
Sir — If Sir Keir Starmer believes the percentage of women who don’t have penises is only 99.9%, my neighbour reckons he must be suffering from Penile Dementia.
Up The Red North
FLONGS AND SHIRT LIFTERS
M'lud, — I have good reason to remember the flong mentioned in the Press Gazette article. During my earliest days at the Express, (mid 70s) I was tasked with retrieving the flong cases from the front hall and bringing them up to the second floor post room. Large metal cases that weighed a ton, you'd think they were filled with lead bars. My memory is that the cases only contained rolls of newspapers and not the flong itself.
Jargon not mentioned could include, from the art desk, WOT's and BOT's. White on tone and black on tone I believe.
Re Garth Pearce's memories of the Fleet Street Express, journalists from this era will recall hammering out their stories on six or nine-part carbon paper.
An example of how different the working atmosphere was back then, I clearly remember hearing a member of the Daily Express Features Dept, (no names but you'll guess the identity quite easily ) bellowing across the vast expanse of Aitken House to a fellow journalist, "Oi Wiggy you old shirt lifter!" There were categorically no safe spaces back then!
Mind you, you could get three pints and change from a pound, so it wasn't all bad.
Former DX editorial assistant
By cleft stick
ALL BLACK TV
Sir -- I fell asleep in front of the telly this week, and when I woke up I thought I was back in Africa. I had to put on subtitles to follow some of the characters in a police drama before I realised it was set in Brighton. And the adverts for funeral insurance and car sales seemed to be aimed at the population of Soweto.
I opened a window half expecting to see herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across my front lawn. Fortunately the lashing wind and freezing rain brought me back to reality.
Sir — What a fabulously nostalgic piece by my old mucker Garth Pearce. All the names he dredged up in his article brought back fond memories of life in one of the great Fleet Street newsrooms.
When I joined the Daily Express in 1972 Derek Marks was editor, one of, I think, ten editors I worked under at the paper. He was a very large man with an expanding waist, a former political correspondent who did something no other editor did in my time on the Express. He put up a daily bulletin on a board which picked out what he liked in the paper that day. It was always my dream as a young reporter to be mentioned in dispatches in that bulletin.
I had joined the paper as a reporter on Action Line run by Bob Millar who wanted me to find stories amongst the plethora of readers' complaints and sob stories about whatever had gone wrong in their lives, whether faulty washing machines or dodgy insurance salesmen. I came up with a story about estate agents playing fast and loose with house buyers who lost out to higher bidders at the last moment. One reader described it as gazumping. That made the bulletin board!
So many amazing names of legendary reporters and feature writers highlighted by Garth. The Express was a treasure-trove of talent in those days. Dear Frank Howitt was among the best and always generous to us youngsters, Jim Davies, the nicest and most talented of all reporters/writers, and the splendid Michael O'Flaherty who had a way with words both in the office and in the newspaper. So, thank you, Garth, for bringing it all back.
NICOLA STURGEON’S MEMOIRS
M'lud — The Independent reports that the former Queen of Scots will 'probably' write a book about her glorious reign.
Those waiting with bated breath must be hoping that Queen Nicola preserved all the facts on paper given her notoriously patchy memory. I just hope she can remember where she has left all the details of the doubtless bombshell revelations.
A pretty slim volume if she can't!
As a long-standing reader and contributor, I should like to point out that the "Wardrobe Specials" and associated wardrobe murder cutting featured in a recent "Drone", has a full set of whiskers growing on it.
I should know...as I sent it to you exactly two years ago and it was used in the next edition!
Keep up the good (recycling) work. One must do one's bit for the planet.
If a story is worth telling, it’s worth telling twice — Ed
YOU COULD BANK ON LLOYD
Sir — I’ve just caught up with the letter from Terry Manners (Hi, Tel. How’s it going? Long time no see!) about the night Elvis died. I had been elevated to Back Bench wingman to Lloyd Turner who was stand-in night editor that historic day. We were well aware of the debate via telephone between Tony Fowler and Roy Wright. It didn’t matter: Lloyd turned to me and said: ‘Fuck it, we’re going to splash on it anyway.’
ELVIS … EXTENDED PLAY
Sir — Followers of the The Old Grey Cardigan will be interested to note that he has contacted Lord Drone’s crusty archives’ team in the dusty bowels of Drone Towers, this time to put the record straight, over our recent flurry of excitement of how the historic story of Elvis Presley’s death hit the newsrooms, on the night of August 17, 1977 … at the most inconvenient time for journalists and compositors busy elsewhere, getting seriously pissed in the hostelries of The Street of Broken Dreams.
But as alarm bells rang, machines stopped, pages were ripped out, subs and reporters stumbled back from pubs ranging from The Punch to the Cartoonist, to change the course of newspaper history that night, from Teesside to Tennessee, not all, it seems were of the same mind about the King of Rock’s place in media history.
A fierce disagreement was apparently taking place in the Thinking Zone of the Express hierarchy, as one highly-regarded senior executive spoke against the new Splash. Our fly on the wall from the time, dear old Brown Cardy was there and reports: He told them: “We can’t turn the whole paper upside down for this one Memphis rocker, I mean, it’s not as if he is Frank Sinatra! Now that would be big!” Name of executive withheld for obvious reasons.
Quite Wright too — Ed