By ALASTAIR McINTYRE
DURING a long career in Fleet Street a chap gets into many scrapes, particularly when that career involves the 1970s and 1980s. Incidents such as the fire extinguisher attack on the overnight features operatives are detailed on another page.
But no incident is stranger than The Affair of Richard Addis's Teacup. Former Royal Reporter Ashley Walton, who told the tale over lunch, swears that I am the culprit for this jape which occurred in the 1990s at the Blackfriars office when I would have been Chief Sub-Editor. For my part I deny any involvement in the shoddy affair.
Addis, pictured right, was an effete former monk who had mysteriously been parachuted into the editor's chair from the Daily Mail. It was hard to imagine a more unlikely leader for the hardened hacks of the Express. The fact that he drank his tea from a bone china cup, which came with a matching saucer, seemed to accentuate this.
This elegant, nay dainty, receptacle was regularly paraded through the office by the editor's secretary in full view of the permanently disgruntled staff who would be drinking their beverages from plastic canteen cups which in those smoke-filled days often doubled as ashtrays.
One day the teacup went missing. Alarms and excursions emanated from the editor's office and exhaustive investigations were carried out to discover the whereabouts of the hallowed crockery.
An amnesty was announced: If the cup's kidnapper returned the receptacle unharmed, nothing more would be said. Failure to comply would result in the most serious consequences, the details of which have slipped my mind.
The stand-off continued for several days until, at last, the missing saucer was delivered to the inner sanctum. There was just one problem – it was broken into two pieces.
Accompanying it was a note, which read: More money for the subs or the cup gets it.
I don't think the cup ever did turn up. Neither did any pay rises.
Elaine Canham has her own version of events. Read it here