LORD DRONE’S MIGHTY FLEET STREET ORGAN,
THE WORLD’S GREATEST ONLINE NEWSPAPER
THE ALTERNATIVE MEDIA DAILY
THURSDAY 30 NOVEMBER 2023
Press Gazette’s former chief reporter Jean Morgan has died aged 86. She retired after 19 years reporting on the national and regional newspaper industry in 2003.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — Why is it that drivers of fog-coloured vehicles never, ever put on their lights…in fog?
Haven’t the foggiest — Ed
Sir — I predict that Home Secretary Suella Braverman will predict the imminent downfall of your resident seer and Keeper of the Drone Crystal Balls, G R Petulengro-Frame, by lunchtime yesterday.
It will come true at some time in the future. Keep thefaith! — Ed
Sir — Of course the planet is not flat. [See Poetry Corner.] If it were flat there would be no need for low gear on bikes. Leastways that's what I heard in the pub, so it must be true.
Sir — It is a dirty game they're playing. Well done to the press for outing Harry, Megsy and Netflix for their misuse of photos and footage in the trailers for their reality series. Rather reminiscent of the fake headlines that were used in the Oprah interview. They didn't try to explain that fakery so it'll be interesting to see if they can explain away this chicanery.
What's bizarre is that they've distanced themselves from a show that they had made about themselves.
Love the comparison between Harry and Megsy and John and Yoko in some of the papers. The difference between the couples is that one out of the four was actually talented. Although you could argue that Yoko was a fair actress herself.
I see Paul Burrell has resurfaced although he isn't using his Kensington Palace nickname Barrack Room Bertha.
Jimi Hendrix, those like and dislike features were very common in magazines of yesteryear. Hendrix used to keep a diary, (ditto Keith Richards) hard to believe but true. Jimi would detail one of his extraordinary days, (bought new car...crashed new car...shagged 12 groupies etc) and sign off with SOS...Same Old Shit!
By cleft stick
Sir — With Christmas approaching, please allow me to inform readers that I have a box of Sooty, Sweep and Sue puppets for sale. They’re going very cheaply because, frankly, I just want them off my hands.
Sir — Your correspondent
P O Sullivan-Shanks asked me to look into my crystal ball to forecast the winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock. I can confidently tell him that it will be Protektorat at 11-2. He should put the national debt on it plus his shirt. And to think some were doubting my powers.
G R PETULENGRO-FRAME
By carrier pigeon
Dear Lord Drone — Your item in The Goss reminds me thata member of Colonel Richard Pine-Coffin’s family, a lady not built for hand-to-combat (but who knows, I don’t think any of our gentlemanly colleagues tried) graced the third floor of the Blackfriars Lubyanka. For a short time.
She worked as a casual reporter on Express Money. When her first copy arrived on the subs’ screens there was much checking. We had to get her byline right.
I do not remember her first name, but I think she was a granddaughter of the much decorated Colonel.
of this parish
Sir —I too was shocked to learn that the world of typewriter-throwing, full-wine bloodied, Fleet St Man is being replaced by the fireplace at the Flying Fuck, and that some members have been waiting patiently but noisily, on the backstairs of the Tavistock Clinic after lunch for gender realighment.
Whatever would journalist Don MacKay say, that softly-spoken doyen from the Age of Romance and chivalry?
Announcements that female members are not exclusively women and don't need a penis to be a man, would shake the very foundations of El Vino, where doubtless Sir John Junor's forbidding voice still echoes around the wine barrels he enjoyed.
But if as Lord Drone indicates, men with no penises are now 'Sister Drones', what do we call men who, through no fault of their own, have their penises cut off by angry lovers, like John Bobbit?
Your full Woke attention please, it is a difficult and delicate matter.
Don’t ask me, cock, I only work here — Ed
Sir — Haven't you got anyone on the Drone’s vast staff who could have predicted the resignation of Sir Gavin Williamson, for God’s sake? Disappointed.
Fortune Cookie Crescent
Not until the pubs close — Ed
Sir — I have always believed that a Drone, by definition, is a male. Imagine my surprise therefore at your reference to “sister drones”.
Are we expected to believe that long-standing colleagues, notorious for their macho antics in the Snug Bar of the Flying Fuck, have been secretly taking the back stairs to the Tavistock Clinic for a spot of gender reassignment?
I think we should be told.
The Drone is strictly gender neutral on all matters. Our mission is to show full respect to all those Woke tossers — Ed
Sir —I note Suella de Vil has popped in to see her friends, the migrant ‘invaders’ at the Manston holding centre. She arrived by a Chinook twin rotor helicopter, usually to be found in war theatres such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Why Chinook at £3,500 an hour (not to mention all those nasty carbon emissions)? A train from St Pancras to Ramsgate, next to Manston, takes 46 minutes and costs £36. Asking for a friend.
G R PETULENGRO-SHANKS
Re: Gypsy Rose Petulengro- Frame
Please note the above individual who has been brought to our attention is not an accredited member of our brotherhood and any prognostications he may make are exercises in self-aggrandisement and should be taken with a pinch of fairy dust.
Members of the public who encounter him should back off and ring our Help Line for immediate assistance.
The Old Bell
He’s a she, isn’t he? — Ed
Sir — I was so pleased to see that you have appointed my old colleague Gypsy Rose Petulengro-Frame as your resident astrologer. Once he has settled in, I wonder if he could give me the winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock on the 19th.
Sir — In view of his new woke redefinition, how does Lord Drone expect us to interpret government policy that “fracking can only be conducted with the consent of residents and/or approval from Health and Safety?”
For that matter, does he consider my customary Friday night, er, frack with a friendly barmaid behind my local constitutes a danger to surrounding communities and indeed the planet itself?
LEW D B’STARD
Sir — Please allow me space to offer the following unwanted gift for sale:
Giltlike badge (worn once) featuring iconic Crusader figure accompanied by effusive citation, lovingly inscribed on vellumette, displayed inside bespoke WoodaLike plastic frame (as new). Offers invited. Purchaser to collect.
Sir — Good to see Lord Drone giving valuable space to the book by pipe-smoking sports cartoonist extraordinaire, Roy Ullyett.
He was such a jovial and talented sports cartoonist, and something of a local celebrity in his hometown of Westcliff-on-Sea, where he would often be found walking along the cliff top near his house in the historic conservation area of the Victorian seaside Riviera, if he wasn’t residing in his Menorca, or was it Majorca, villa.
I shared a train journey with him once and he looked rather upset.
“What’s up Roy? Problems?” I helpfully asked as he sucked on his unlit pipe under his handlebar moustache and frowned.
It transpired that the originals of scores of his cartoons had disappeared from his filing cabinet. A newsroom theft was recorded, and a hunt was going on but to no avail. The matter was a mystery until some months later.
Roy was invited to a prestigious opening of a new West End Sports club. The owner met him at the entrance and took him down to the cellar bar where he walked past a complete collection of his framed work on the walls. Someone had found a market for Roy's missing pencil strokes of history. Rows followed.
AN OLD BROWN CARDIGAN
Sir — We’re all used to the concept of Working From Home but now I read that Working From Pub is catching on.
What’s so new about that?
Truth and Reconciliation Suite
Ian Stocks, a much-loved and respected figure on the Sunday Express and Evening Standard subs tables for 40 years, has died aged 84.
Ian, whose daughter Elaine is also a sub, started his Saturday shift at the Sunday Express in 1967 which he continued until his retirement in 1996. It was here he met his wife Betty Fryer, who was the newsdesk secretary.
One of Ian’s passions was the Evening Standard Pudding Club which involved the subs trooping out of the officeeach afternoon to eat, er, somepudding, although theconsumption of such comestible was not mandatory.
Alan Ashworth has written an excellent account of his friendship with Tony Gallagher, the new editor of The Times.
'DELAY 'DACRE PEERAGE'
Labour MP Chris Bryant has called for Paul Dacre’s peerage to be delayedwhile the Daily Mail faces legal action over alleged privacy breaches.
DAILY Express Political Correspondent Peter Hooley, who covered Westminster for more than two decades, has died aged 69 after a short illness.
Peter, the son of a Bomber Command veteran, first worked on Fleet Street in the early 1980s for the Daily Star’s Investigations unit before becoming part of the Daily Express political team, reporting on the Winter of Discontent and the premiership of Margaret Thatcher. He went on to cover Home Affairs before joining the Sunday Express which he left in 1996.
He combined great political insight with a sense of the ridiculous which was vital in the sometimes pompous world of politics.
Peter, who grew up in Harrogate, went on to become a press officer for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. A keen angler, he specialised in fishing issues and particularly enjoyed a secondment to the Caribbean.
He leaves a widow, Sarah, who is also a journalist, and two daughters.
John Ingham told the Drone: 'He was a top man and a fine reporter.'
FORMER Express and Mailman Scott Gormley died on September 15 after a long illness. He was 78.
Scott began his career on localnewspapers in Shropshire beforemoving to the Daily Mirror.
Helater worked on the Daily Mail,Daily Express and finally the Mail on Sunday,where he became Chief Sub Editorbefore being promoted to Executive Production Editor and later Head of Production at the launchof the Financial Mail on Sunday.
MoS personal finance editor Jeff Prestridge said: 'Scott couldgrasp the heart of a financial storyin seconds and bring it to life on the page through imaginative display and headlines. His stellarproduction skills helped to makeFinancial Mail the best of its kind.'
Scott left the MoS in 2000 andretired to Shropshire, whee heindulged his passion for golf.
He leaves a wife Tina anddaughter Beth.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — I call on the landlord to investigate shocking scenes in the Back Bar of the Flying Frack* as customers clamoured to obtain drinks after Last Orders was called. A horrified witness has told me he saw drinkers being manhandled and having abuse shouted at them. He added: ‘Some of them were in tears and I am sure many cried themselves to sleep. It’s appalling.’
Sir — Your correspondent Dumpster thinks I should apply for the post of Grape Feeder at Bacchanalia, the proposed new restaurant from that strange chap, the over tanned, over coiffed and over rich Richard Caring. A knowledge of Latin and Greek (ancient presumably) will be a requirement.
I adulatus sum sec non.
What’s more I prefer my grapes bottled.
Sent via chariot
Sir — I see plans are afoot to pay us all £10 a day for turning off the rads in the depths of winter. Good. I'm going to spend it in the pub where it's never cold.
I'm wondering if The Drone will be the first newspaper, online or otherwise, to use King Charles's initials in a headline.
Where the Drone leads others follow — Ed
MAIL’S BLACK MUSEUM
In the latest edition of his blog, Alan Ashworth recalls the Daily Mail’s Black Museum which documented the horrific errors of reporters and copy takers which, but for the subs, would have found their way into the paper.
A SUBTLE REMINDER
Tony Boullemier has gone to the trouble to remind Lord Drone that his The Little Book of Monarchs, first published in 2013, is still available, covered in dust and slightly foxed, at a mere £5.99 in paperback.
TIMES RADIO FIRST
The first national radio station to break the news of the Queen’s death, according to research provided to RadioToday, was Times Radio at 18.31.
CALLED TO THE BAR
Former Mailman Alan Ashworth has written in his entertaining blog about an old colleague from the Burnley Evening Star who turned beer drinking into an art form.
OLD JOKES HOME
Went for a job at a blacksmiths the other day. The interviewer asked me if I'd ever shoed a horse.
I said 'No, but I've told a donkey to fuck off."
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — I write in reference to your utter bollox about signs and hangman’s nooses hanging from the yellowing, nicotine-stained, supposedly clean-air pipes on the ceiling of the old Express newsroom in the Black Lubyanka.
I will never forget late one afternoon when three workmen in white sterile space suits and helmets entered through the doorway opposite the gentleman’s latrines with a ladder and some spanners. Did we have an overflow into the corridor and into Diver's secretive locker?
Under the watchful eye of a management executive wearing a mask, which appeared to cover up an orange beard, they set about wrenching off the dusty yellow and brown-stained, air conditioning pipes and grills, as splash sub, Peter Hedley puffed on his pipe thoughtfully and SAS hero Billy Montgomery lit another Guards cigarette, blowing out the smoke and looking on incongruously.
Hurried union meetings were called. Was the management endangering the lungs of gentleman journalists, most with packets of 20 or pipes on their desks? Was this a time for danger money? The talks with management went on for days and so did the work above, with drafts and dust bursts blowing through.
It was all finally settled amicably with assurances that the pipes were being updated. Dust sheets were laid on the floor and the old asbestos lining we never knew about above our heads, was removed over several days by the men in the sterile suits who grew in number, as we worked innocently on in shirtsleeves.
Sometime later we were editing stories about a ban on the import of raw blue asbestos into the UK following a world health scare on lung disease — because it was widespread in buildings but not detected until years on. (Er, cough).
AN OLD BROWN CARDIGAN
Brighton was a great newsy place back then with photographers from the dailies in town most days, The passing of Roger Bamber, ex Mail, Sun, Guardian and resident of Brighton, made think of past times working with some of the greats. I had many good time with Express man Stan Sherman socially, sometimes very socially!
One of the snappers passing through during the late 70s was Alasdair Loos of the Daily Star, I have searched online for him but drawn a blank.
Does anyone know of his whereabouts??
Thanks to Michael Hellicar we have found Alasdair Loos, who has changed his surname to Lyall.
Sir — I'm now so old and deaf that I need subtitles for the wireless.
Sir — I’ve noticed that some bloke in a cardigan has started to contribute rambling reminiscences to the Drone. Could you please ask him to put a trim in it?
I find I often drop off as I’m reading them but when I do reach the end, the intro is inevitably in the final paragraph.
Always a guest of a certain Editor, who once went down on his hands and knees with her ... over a map of the Falklands to see where it was as we went to war, many hacks will remember a particular day she arrived for one of her copious glasses of whisky in her favourite newspaper office.
Perrier Water was the In-Trend drink at the time on the subs' tables ... oiling the tummies of clock watchers eyeing copy times for the last pages before retiring to their Fleet St bars of choice.
Story goes that warlord Maggie appeared on the Editorial floor like a Pied Piper with senior executives in tow, and spied a bottle of the French answer to Highland Spring. She was apoplectic and demanded to know why the French dishwater was in the newspaper home of the British Empire.
From that day on Perrier was banned from the building, or so the story goes.
Footnote: On another visit, hacks were aggrieved to use the stairs when an Express lift was sealed off, while workmen plastered its walls with Tory blue cellophane for the Great Lady's ascendancy to the floor where Lord Stevens was pouring the whisky.
OLD BROWN CARDIGAN
Sir — Absorbing the latest grim news about the Tories, cost of living, Ukraine etc, I went for a relaxing stroll. There in front of me were four sinister chaps on horseback, one of whom was carrying a nasty-looking knife. I don’t want to be alarmist but should I be concerned?
If you want to — Ed
Sir —The humour of Tory devotee William Hague, once said by Maggie Thatcher to be the next William Pitt, has never appealed to me, even when I had a jock-ular half and a half drinking with him once in a Scottish bar.
But I was impressed with the recall of a Daily Mail reader this week, who said that when Mr Hague was leader of the Opposition in 2000, he rose to speak in the Commons about London’s forthcoming mayoral elections and brought the house down.
He told MPs the Labour Party was not content with one candidate, but were putting up two to share the position. Frank Dobson would be the day mayor while Ken Livingstone would be the nightmare!
AN OLD BROWN CARDIGAN
SIR — I must take issue with the letter from Jess Askin-Shanks asking why it is that many ubiquitous women complaining about the cost of living in telly interviews always have tattoos, expensive to feed dogs and monster TVs etc. That is unfair comment.
Indeed I was watching a young, single mother in skimpy attire being interviewed on BBC TV last week, and she didn’t have a tattoo showing anywhere, as she ranted about Boris not doing enough to pay for her eight children, who squeezed on the sofa with her. Surely, we mustn’t judge.
Sir — May I draw your readers’ attention to these latest potential dangers to their health and well-being?
** The Motherwell Institute for Purposeful Anxiety has warned that blowing your nose more than four times a day carries a 27 per cent increased risk of developing painful piles after the age of 50.
** A study of 64,000 weekend cyclists by researchers at the Ferguson Institute for Statistical Obfuscation has found that saddle-burn among 25- to 38-year-old males led to reduced fertility in 19 per cent of cases.
** Increasing flatulence, coupled with instances of nasal anaesthesia leading to attempted life-taking, have been uncovered in a survey by Indolent Science plc among 54 members of vegan social clubs in the Cardiff area during the first half of June 2022.
You have been warned.
Sir — Why is it that the ubiquitous women complaining in telly interviews about the cost of living crisis always have tattoos, expensive to feed dogs, monster TVs and expensively lacquered nails?
JUST FANCY THAT
Ozzy Osbourne says he stopped doing acid after he took ten tabs in one day, went for a walk in a field and heard one of the horses tell him to fuck off.
Roy Collins, former chief sports writer at Today and The People, has died suddenly in Spain at the age of 73.
His friend, and one-time flat mate, PAUL WEAVER has paid a very personal tribute on the Sports Journalists’ Associationwebsite.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Snappers R Us
But where are the short skirts you promised? — Ed
Sir — I read on Page 24 in the Daily Mail today that Wisbech has been moved from Cambridgeshire into Norfolk. Is this due to subsidence, Brexit or a vote on independence that I have missed? As Wisbech is only five miles from Lincolnshire, wouldn’t moving it a little further north been a better choice?
Still residing in Essex, I think.
Sir — Leafing through my copy of The Times, I noticed that on 21 news pages, there were 17 credits from other sources for stories. Uplifting indeed!
In my day in the far-off Seventies and Eighties, pieces were often heavily disguised to pretend to show that the stuff was original.
Here is my thank-you list, all in The Times’ easy-to-spot italics: The Independent, Sky News, The Guardian, The Sunday Times (2),The Sun on Sunday, The Mail on Sunday (3), The Sunday Telegraph (3), The Observer (2), Saga Magazine, Sleep Medicine Reviews and the Architects Journal.
Saved me buying that lot!
THE COPY CAT,
Sir — Someone on Radio 4's One O'Clock news today spoke of problems facing the next Prime Minister, 'whoever they might be'. And here's me thinking we get only one of 'em at a time.
Sir — Allow me to pass on a tip to photographers covering exam results this summer.
Collect about 10 pretty girls in short skirts, give them some sheets of paper (results!) to hold and ask them to leap excitedly in the air at the same time.
Should make a good, original pic: certainly, I’ve never seen it before.
Isn’t it time for your nap? — Ed
Sir — With all these water restrictions going around, has anyone any advice on what I should do about Geronimo, my wall-mounted high-tech Japanese Smart Toilet?
He uses a lot of water, not to mention power for the blow-dry function. Will I be forced to abandon my “zero paper” bathroom?
(I’ll sit this one out — Ed)
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — Please accept the attached entry into the Daily Drone’s exciting new Ryan Giggs Love Poetry Competition. I should be grateful if you could tell me if I’ve won.
It’s a pity your ditty
Is so shitty, Kitty
But — to be terse —
Your blank verse
Is worse, nurse
That’s enough doggerel — Ed
Forgive us for interfering with you but your so-called ‘editor’ always seems to be swanning (geddit?) off on holiday
We, the undersigned, respectfully demand that, as a matter of urgency, you order the resumption of the reading of the football results in the Back Bar of the Flying Fuck-up at 5pm every Saturday.
This is a hallowed tradition passed down from father to son and is a lustrous thread in the rich tapestryof our islands’ history etc.
LP BREVMIN, SPIKE DIVER, Wm DUMPSTER and R. R. R. R. and R. RAMBLESHANKS
You’re all fired for going behind my back. Anyway I have now returned from my brief break — Ed
Sir — Sorry to disturb your holiday idyll in sunny Swansea but I think you should name and shame the wuss sub-editor who insists on riding his Harley-Davidson cowering behind a Klock Werks windshield.
The late great Sonny Barger must be doing wheelies in his freshly-dug grave.
I suspect I know who it is, though: the Jessie who didn’t like going on the stone in case he got his hands dirty.
Back Bar Truth and Reconciliation Suite
As you are the author of the piece to which you refer perhaps you can enlighten us as to the person’s identity rather than hide behind these absurd Shankssoubriquets which litter this website — Ed
Sir — Allowing Oliver, your Country Boys ‘diarist’ to use favourite desserts, such as Sticky Toffee Pudding and Spotted Dick, in a blatantly sexual context in an attempt to wring cheap laughs (not everyone gets the joke, you know) is vulgar and demeaning.
Any more of it and I’ll banish you to the naughty step (ie cancel my subscription).
Is that a promise or a threat? — Ed
Sir — In view of today’s gender sensitivities, when an aircraft is being flown by pilots identifying as female, shouldn’t a more appropriate word be found for the cockpit?
Sir — Your lordship might consider offering an award for an alternative to the cliche 'broad' daylight, as in murders and robberies. After all, who has ever heard of narrow daylight?
O B SERVER
PS: Your correspondent Fred Quimby rightly seeks a non-sexist alternative to 'cockpit', as in aircraft. How about organ loft?
Another great operator has been lost. Sub, writer and back bencher Ewen Campbell, who worked on the Daily Star, several national titles, the Northern Echo and papers in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Auckland, has died of cancer aged 69.
Mailman Alan Ashworth has written about subs’ drinks breaks in the latest edition of his blog. It certainly brought back happymemories ...
CUT, THRUST AND PARRY
Mike Parry, former news editor of the Daily Express, has received a mixed reception following his appearances on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine chat show.
Sir — Thank you for your reminiscence about Grey Cardigan, aka Mike Lowe (incidentally, a drinking pal of Terry Manners’) and especially Mungo, the Glaswegian sub who kept a house brick in his desk drawer ‘just in case’.
Why do I think that reminds me of someone?
Sir — Further to that priapism, mentioned In the Drone’s heatwave coverage, my missus wants to know if she can have it over the counter at Boots.
Sir — Re the reference in The Goss to everyone’s favourite broadcaster, Sue Barker, and Beachy Head: was that supposed to be funny? If so, I didn’t get the joke.
So you’ve given up laughing at your own 'jokes’ then?
Sir — I note that the Daily Drone uses the four-letter F word quite a lot but I’ve excused that as locker room boisterousness. Now, though, your diarist employs the O word in a snide little piece (the diary item, not the Today programme presenter) about Mishal Husain. Shame on you! I am cancelling my subscription.
HERMIONE RAMBLESHANKS (Miss)
Sir — Now that the Tories are in such a two and eight, they’d do well to go along with that bloke who suggested Heseltine might do a turn. And what about that Jim Major? He looks the real deal and I bet that in a shared bath he’d volunteer to take the tap end. A proper gent.
Sir — The Tories are looking for a new leader/prime minister: what about Michael Heseltine, I think it is? He’s new to me but I saw him on the telly and he talked a lot of sense.
What we need is someone of integrity like him who is above backstairs plotting to knife properly elected leaders in the back.
Poll Hill, Wirral
Sir — What an elegantly scripted and nostalgic reminiscence about Tony Fowler rushing back to the office in his jim jams when he thought Reagan had died.
Why did everything happen to him?
Sir — I am writing a feature about all the unforgettable people Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother met in her long life … and then promptly forgot.
Has any Drone reader got any pix to illustrate this? TIA.
LORD CHARLES MOORE
Don’t be silly — Ed
Sir — Apropos Terry Manners' nostalgic piece about the 1970 unions, I had an early experience of the power the Readers felt they had.
I was three weeks into my holiday relief subbing job on the Daily Sketch when I was asked to sub a filler about a go-slow at Her Majesty's Stationery Office. The headline count was 13 characters max, so I settled for Stationary, which the chief sub thought suitable. Going through the proofs some time later I noticed the headline had been changed to Stationery and alerted the chief sub, who told me to go to the Reading Room and get it corrected.
This was in the summer 1963, so I don't remember the details of the battle I had. But the gist of it is that I was told — quite rudely — that I had spelt Stationery wrongly and my headline should be changed. I tried to explain the subtlety, but the Reader wouldn't have it. Only 23 and not yet on the staff, I was unsure of my ground, so I went back to the Newsroom and told the chief sub what had happened. The headline was changed.
Sir — I see the jubilant victory cry from the winner of the Tiverton and Honiton by-election was: “The Lib Dems are coming!”
Surely not yet another case of the party’s premature ejaculation?
Sir — With sixmonths to go my local pub is inviting bookings for its Christmas Day Menu (£68 adults; £45 children under 12). Is this a record?
Sir — I note the complaint from ‘old hack’ concerning what he, she or they (latest guidelines compliant) says is an excess of contributors from the extended Shanks family.
As Ethics Advisor to Lord Drone I have ruled on this matter as follows: The Daily Drone is published by Drone Corp, a private company registered in Little Cayman and as such is entitled to employ any idiot prepared to work for little (or indeed no) reward.
The precedent is set by the Editor who is a martyr to his art, working tirelessly day and night (take in PA) etc etc.
Shanks in the Wold,
Sir — I note a disturbing number of persons of the Shanks persuasion are employed on your website. This not only ignores official diversity and inclusivity guidelines, but is evidence of positively incestuous levels of nepotism.
Meanwhile many once-legendary former colleagues, in various stages of decrepitude, are without gainful employment, with several reduced to administering their financial portfolios from spice-scented, palm-fringed holiday island beaches and living off non-British food and cheap local wine.
Have you no shame?
(No – Ed)
Sir — Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but the comprehensive new Asylum Seekers Action Plan, issued jointly by the Church of England archbishops and bishops, the Labour Party, the SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and that ghastly woman from the Greens who looks just like a tortoise, seems to be the way forward.
PRITTI BALLOON- SHANKS
You’re a cock-eyed optimist — Ed
Sir — OK, so post-Brexit Britain’s exports to the EU now stand at the highest level since records began but do the Labour Party, the BBC and fucking Robert Peston have to keep crowing about it?
Prayer and Contemplation Suite
Hello! What are we going to do about the young? My grandson hasn’t a clue who Neil Armstrong was or which instrument he played. Wonderful world? I think not.
Bonkers (Yonkers — Ed)
Sir — The receptionist at my GP’s surgery telephoned to say that I have something extremely rare: a face-to-face appointment with the doctor next Wednesday.
We on the Drone love a character and Fred Shawcross was no exception.
Former Mailman Alan Ashworth has written a hilarious account of the great man whose career ranged from stone subbing to show business.
Here’s a sample:
When I arrived on the subs’ desk of the Lancashire Evening Telegraph in Blackburn, Fred had left some years earlier but they still talked of little else. How he would roll in an hour late after a night on the tiles, disappear in the direction of the bogs with a rolled-up Racing Post under his arm and announce to the chief sub: "Harry, I’ll be in Trap Three."
'How he would open the flap on the pneumatic copy tube to the composing room and shout: ‘Bridge here, give me more steam!’
FINGERS OF FATE
A letter to The Sunday Times:You mention U2 in your article on the most annoying bands ever. The (possibly apocryphal) story goes that they were also subject to the greatest heckle ever. Halfway through a Dublin gig, Bono told the audience to hush and then started clicking his fingers. “Every time I click my fingers, somewhere a child dies,” he said softly.
Out of the gloom, a voice shouted out: “Stop fuckin’ doing it, then.”
Simon Miller, Thames Ditton, Surrey
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — I can’t wait for my GP to join the doctors’ threatened strike. I’ll join the picket line so I can see him face to face for the first time in ages.
West Byfleet sur Mer
Sir — I've written a piece about the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland declaring its friendship withthe Roman Catholic Church — it's only taken 400 years.
It's based on my experiences as a religion (but not very religious) correspondent.
Lord Beaverbrook, son of a Presbyterian minister who emigrated from Scotland to Canada, took a close interest in the Express's coverage and tried to influence the Kirk when he thought it was deviating from the path of righteousness. The 'Nae Bishops in the Kirk' campaign was his but he approved of friendly relations withthe Catholic Church.
His adviser on Church of Scotland affairs was the Express leader writer George Malcolm Thomson who would come on the phone and announce: "This is the word of the Lord.'
Of course, he didn't mean the Lord above, but THE lord on the top floor…
Sir —You very kindly published a letter from me some weeks ago and though I promise this won’t get a habit I would like to ask if anyone had seen the Prime Minister’s lovely wife Carrie recently.
I am a great admirer and am very disappointed not to have seen her picture in the press, instead we have been inundated with images of two women apparently called Wagatha.
Please do use your extensive resources to find out on my behalf. Has Mrs Johnson gone abroad, into a nunnery or just got camera shy? Or do you have another explanation?
Up the Garden Path
Sir — Following the Dumpster item about the Express Merit Badge, I report that I received mine this morning. I wonder what I’ve got in common with the other recipients.
Poor Pratt, whathashis bottom done to deserve this? — Ed
Sir — As “sex” has become one of the most hazardous words in the Woke lexicon, may I suggest that Harry and Meghan Markle style themselves in future as the Duke and Duchess of SUSSIX, thus avoiding the potential of placing many of their admirers in harm’s way?
I am assured by a numerologist that SIX does not pose a threat to sensitive minds.
I hesitate to also suggest that the titles “Duke” and “Duchess” should be combined in the single gender-neutral “Duch”. But on the other hand to be known jointly as “Duch Sussix” would have a catchy appeal among their progressive followers, don’t you think?
MAXIE HEADROOM (Mx)
Sir —Whatever one thinks of Partygate and the awful thought of staff drinking in the workplace, something those journalists naturally frown on as they gather outside the PM's front door to demonstrate their abhorrence, why do we have to listen to the songbook of Sky Deputy Something, Sam Coates yelling out his repetitive chorus line in the street every day: "When are you going to resign Prime Minister?"
What is it he doesn't understand about Johnson's daily quote: "I am not going to resign"?
This Partygate pantomime goes on with a snarling Laura Kuenssberg starring as the front gender for a Netflix-style TV movie, complete with actors, playing the roles of naughty Downing Street staff sitting on each other's laps, gulping gallons of booze and laughing at the suffering British public. Good, solid unbiased in-depth coverage, eh?
Newspapers, TV and journalists were never like this when I was a lad. Booze? Well that's another thing.
Tenerife via Dollis Hill.
Sir — As a long-retired pedant once gainfully employed by The World’s Greatest, I found myself annoyed by BBC News and even The Times telling us that West Ham footballer Monte (subs, please check) Zouma was guilty of drop-kicking his “pet cat”. Anyone out there own a “working cat” that maybe pops out to buy your milk and cream and munches through a few annoying sparrows?
Sir — I was particularly interested in your letter from Mrs Trellis-Shanks, of Up The Garden Path on the subject of anonymous sources, as I tend to believe everything they say in newspapers, and why not?
But my confidence has been shaken recently by reading a quip from a certain Mr Kelvin MacKenzie, (I don't think the name is made up), that when Mr Derek Jameson, an editor of a newspaper called the Daily Star, apparently an in-depth digest of world coverage, was short of a P1 lead in his career, he had the perfect solution.
He told Mr MacKenzie that he would tell a reporter to use a dirty iron on a white tea cloth and then run the photo under the headline: Is this the face of Jesus?
Of course, I immediately tried it and burned a hole in three of them. But the fourth worked. I will never look at newspapers the same way again — or tea cloths.
Mr MATTHEW IRONS,
Everlasting Teacloths Ltd.
Sir — I was interested to read in the Drone that there had been a controversial erection in somewhere called Grantham. I used to have those but I can’t remember when.
Sir — Who, pray, is Angela Rayner?
Sir — Who, pray, is Sharon Stone?
Do you expect ME to know? — Ed
Sir — Not being acquainted with the newspaper world, though I do like the Monmouthshire Beacon and Forest of Dean Gazette, would you please explain to me this business of anonymous sources?
If a reporter can write a story without having to name the source, what is to stop them making it all up on a quiet day like we did at school during the old king’s reign (God rest his soul)?
Asking on behalf of a friend.
Up the garden path
It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a reporter quotes an unnamedsource it is invariably made up. It is lazy journalism but it does fill a space — Ed
Sir — I note you’ve taken to running pieces in the Drone by people with the most preposterous, made-up bylines such as Robin McGibbon, Terry Manners and (yes, I get it!) Alan Frame.
If they’re doing it to protect their modesty, they would do well to remember what Churchill said about Attlee.
AWARDS NOMINEE ROSALIE RAMBLESHANKS (trainee)
Apropos the twit who’s clearly suffering a bout of insecurity, writing for The Drone has nothing to do with a lack of modesty; it’s simply a way of supporting a jolly decent guy, who invests his time — and a fair amount of money — producing a vibrant, highly informative and amusing website that never ceases to entertain. I doff my Chelsea baseball cap to him.
STUMPY (not made up!),
The cheque’s in the post, Stumpy — Ed
Dear Jolly Decent Guy Who Invests His Time — And A Fair Mount Of Money — Producing A Vibrant, Highly Informative And Amusing Website That Never Ceases To Entertain.
Sir —Predictably, there is much hand wringing over the decision to relocate male illegal migrants to Rwanda. The Beeb’s Mark Easton piles on the agony by pointing outthat, sob, they will be landing in a country they’ve never visited before. Bit like the UK then.
Sir — Forget Boris’s crazy Rwanda plan! Let’s concentrate, instead, on the bold, incisive strategy to solve Britain’s migrant problem laid out with forensic rigour by Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP.
I must have missed that — Ed
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir —So sad to read about the death of dear old Charlie Catchpole, a wonderful wit and great company.
As well as the good times with him, I remember some not so good. When I was Night Editor of the Sunday Express back in the turbulent 80s for Sir John Junor, Charlie sat behind the Backbench on the news desk on Saturdays, and we would often exchange banter and pop down to the Poppinjay for a swift one.
These were the days of the Wapping newspaper revolution that many of us will never forget. It was the most vicious industrial dispute since the days of the Great Depression and hate ruled. Murdoch’s new tech dawn sparked a strike that put the print workers on the streets. Feelings ran high.
Charlie worked at Wapping of course and was a target. One quite menacing messenger who sat close by, was consumed with fury and Charlie was in his sights. Words were exchanged, and for some weeks, Charlie was subjected to deathly glares and worse. He felt he couldn't carry on. It got so bad that he wouldleave the building by the back door or was followed by security.
In the end the management got involved. But not before Charlie stopped coming in for a while. They were tough times … and it was a difficult situation. But Charlie finally soldiered on and continued to be the star he was.
Sir — I fear some of my chums misheard me on a Skype call last night, causing a frisson of incredulity.
I said I was relocating at the end of the month to “the UK” — not “the Ukraine”!
I will be in Devon, not Donbas, come May Day.
Cape Town (for now)
Welcome home, Rick — Ed
Sir — I see that Apple has just made life a little easier for us bank robbers (when I gets out!)
Its latest iPhone update, iOS 15.4, ‘adds the ability to unlock Face ID while wearing a mask.’
Sir - You’ve got to hand it to Labour spin doctors for always coming up with les mots justes to discomfit the Tories.
Almost every Opposition mouthpiece has now taken to dismissing any Government initiative as ‘too little, too late.’
Wish I’d thought of that.
Sir — My wife Quarantine and I have trialled a gas-saving project in our road. Beware the dangers! Two neighbours joined WarmStop, in which one household turns off all their radiators between 5pm and 10pm then stays next door. One couple were Seventh Day Adventists and wouldn’t shut up about God, the others were pervs who invited us to watch porn and walk around with nothing on as heat raged from their boiler. You have been warned!
Mr and Mrs MAURICE
Sir —I see that Prince Andrew, Duke of York, previously known as HRH, once again proves that an expensive education (Gordonstoun £44,000 and ever rising) can never make a thick sod intelligent. In his quickly deleted Instagram posts he talks of returning from Mrs Thatcher’s Falklands war ‘a changed man.’ He says: ‘I put away childish things and false bravado… returned a man full in the knowledge of human frailty and suffering.’
By childish things was he including underage girls? And by human frailty did he mean his paedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein or his own which has been on full view for decades?
His grasp of grammar is as bad as his morals, referring to ‘family’s torn about by the horrors they have witnessed.’ He talks of being brought ‘to a full weep’ by the suffering in Ukraine. A full weep? What does that mean? My guess is that it is straight out of the Fergie psychobabble text book. At one point he says ‘I am afraid to say’ when he means ‘sorry to say.’ What a chump.
All this at a time when some kind soul mysteriously deposited £1.1 million into his bank account and he muscles in on the memorial service for his father.
As that splendid broadcaster Eddie Mair told Boris Johnson: ‘You’re a nasty piece of work aren’t you?’ At least Boris isn’t thick, stupid maybe, but not thick.
of Windsor Great Park
Sir — So glad to hear Kelvin has a Lexus. I could have bought one off the proceeds of the massive royal exclusive he stole from me when editing The Sun, the bastard.
And after I got his mother Mary a job as PR for Hampshire CC when she was out of work, too.
OLD JOKES HOME
I went to the shop to get some deodorant.
The shopkeeper asked "Ball or aerosol?"
I said "No, for my armpit."
OVERHEARD IN THE PUB
Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.
The much loved Lou Yaffa, former chief sub of the News of the World has died.
Lou, a Geordie who was described by a colleague as a great man, also worked on the Daily Herald and the Daily Mirror.
Towards the end of his career, Lou was a valued casual sub on the Daily Express in Blackfriars. He was also an NUJ activist.
That’s all we know at the moment but we do have a great anecdote about Lou which can be read HERE
WORLD’S WORST JOKE
Are you sweating while putting petrol in your car and feeling sick when you pay for it?
You are suffering from carownervirus.
Get this appalling joke off my website now — Ed.
Sod off, Ed — The Subs.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — My neighbour is never short of an insult. She calls vegetarians “herbi-bores”, which is clever. She also refers to a prominent member of our gay community as “Rear Admiral”. Naughty, but I get that too.
Today she said Vladimir Putin is “the World’s Number One Front Bottom”. I think I know what she means, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Sir — I see that the late Madeleine Albright, first female U.S. Secretary of State, used to live in the bijou town of Walton-on-Thames, so posh that it is said that the staff have staff.
Apart from Ms Albright, President Herbert Hoover, Admiral George Rodney, Dame Julie Andrews, singer Nick Lowe and, maybe, Julius Caesar, do readers know of anyone famous who has lived there?
West Byfleet sur Mer
I can’t think of anyone, unless you know better, Mr Hickey-Shanks. I will ask my staff. But I can confirm it is very pleasant this time of year — Ed
Sir — Another example of the lack of a revise system on the Mail: a Page 3 picture do-up on actress Anya Taylor-Joy mentions she starred in the Netflix mini-series The Queen’s Gambit two years ago but fails to note she has rather a prominent role in Peaky Blinders, currently dominating the BBC drama output on Sunday nights.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Goodness knows, maybe they are all brothers.Similarly, why are all rugby balls called Gilbert? — Ed
Sir — I see you have introduced an Haut Definition, turbo-charged, all-singing, all-dancing, gold-embossed, bevel-edged, appliqué-enhanced, cantilever-action, mahogany-inlaid weather forecast, in glorious Technicolor and VistaVision, for … London.
Trouble is: I don’t live in fucking London.
As the caption advises, if you click on the graphic you get more details including the ability to choose your location — Ed
Sir — When I were a lad we called it the Ukraine. What ever became of the 'the'?
We used to say the Lebanon too, those were the days! — Ed
Sir — These ‘soaring’ petrol prices don’t worry me: I’ll continue putting in twenty quid as usual.
Sir — Sometimes it’s the little things, an elegant turn of phrase, which draw one to subscribe to a particular newspaper. Two examples from wordsmiths at The Times:
Hugo Rifkind on the complexities of the Peaky Blinders plot: ‘I've no idea where all this is going, and once it has gone there I daresay there's a decent chance I'll have no idea where it just went.’
An obit touching on the marital shenanigans of Shane Warne: ‘Not one to be restrained by the small print of a nuptial contract, he exhausted his wife's powers of forgiveness. They divorced in 2005.’
Sir —Since moving from newspapers to the world of social media, like so many other semi-retired hacks out grazing in the wetlands of Blighty, I have noticed a new breed of reader in various news fields … The Deniers.
On Twitter, this herd denies everything from the Holocaust and Covid to Armstrong landing on the Moon and any Brexit success, along with the fact that no one reads the Express because it is fascist.
Even news events unfolding before our very eyes from British snappers in the Ukraine. Mostly no bylines from Tweeters of course, just a picture of a frog or skull.
One anonymous Armchair General this week, claimed the 40-kilometre-long column of Russian tanks heading for Kiev, was fake because the trees were green, and we were in wintertime. In fact, the invading tanks were moving through a UkrainIan, evergreen pine and conifer forest.
Sir — Much admired Alan Frame’s emotional and affectionate piece on Ukraine. Look out, you Shankses, there’s a new kid (eh? Ed) on the block!
(Ex Drone trainee)
Sir — Isn’t it about time the Daily Drone got up to date and started using Preferred Gender Pronouns? I am sure we would all welcome the choice of He/Him, She/Her or They/Them. There may even be a case for extending this to the use of Neopronouns such as Xe, Ze, Ve, Tey and Hir.
What think you, Mr Ed?
Ze are being silly now. As for our readers, I am sure hir wouldn’t welcome it — Ed
Sir — Have you noticed how snappers at The Times have become increasingly self regarding of late? They have taken to publishing up-your-bum albums of their ‘work’ on the paper’s website.
Each run-of-the-mill, often grainy, snap is accompanied by technical bollocks such as: Equipment used: Canon EOS-1DX Mark ll using 16-35mm zoom lens (set at 16mm) 1/1,250th sec, f7.1, ISO 500
Yet the Drone recently published a pin-sharp picture of Express geriatrics which showed every line and blemish on their crumbling faces taken on an ordinary
over-the-counter iPhone 12 15.3.1 MGJ53B/A F17FWBXD¥F§N
The end of an era: Martin Clarke, the mastermind behind MailOnline, left the Mail's office for the last time, with an unexpectedly tearful leaving speech.
VETERAN reporter TOM BROWN, pictured, has written an excellent piece in the Daily Record which has proved popular with readers.
Tom told the Drone: "I’m amazed by the response — a couple of hundred messages in emails, Facebook, etc.
It shows the Queen and I are now history, but at least it proves I'm not ga-ga (yet).
"The intro wrote itself — 'The Queen and I started our jobs on the same day in February 1952.' So I wrote this piece, not about the big stories but about how our lives have changed. It's now official — I'm history.
“The story has gone online — not in the newspaper — a sign of the times. Beware, there are several pictures of me."
We suggest reading Tom’s piece (link below) wearing a blindfold to avoid seeing pictures of him — Ed
FLEET STREET MEMORIES
Former editorial assistant STEVE MILL reports:
I took a nostalgic trip to the Street of Shame shortly before Christmas to remember an old friend. Unfortunately it was rather a depressing experience.
Stopped at The Old Bell for a pint, I think I was the sixth customer, couldn't help recalling the mayhem that ensued during the festive season. I could tell it was the season of goodwill back then when I saw a news reporter heave a typewriter at a colleague!
Speaking of 'attitude adjusters', how many times did I hear Peter Tory invite Ross Benson to join him for a morning 'sharpener' in The Poppinjay?
At the other end of the spectrum, an heroically over-refreshed Ross Tayne ordered off the stone, I know it happened because he came into the pub to tell us! His finest hour?
I remember Norman Cox…Andrew Edwards strolls into the Hickey office and greets Norman with the following:‘Hello you bearded fart!'
Heather McGlone, editor of the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine, will retire this week shortly before her 65th birthday.
She will be replaced after her 19-year stint by Andrew Davies, who is currently assistant editor at the Mail on Sunday.
Lord Dronewrites: I remember Heather from the Daily Express where her presence was always very much in evidence. After one of her many jousts with editor Nick Lloyd she stuck a Post-It note on hiscomputer reading: I RESIGN.
Nick refused to accept her resignation and Heather carried on until she was finally fired by Richard Addis.
A reader adds: Heather often received a bad press at the Express (viz constant references to her ‘links’ to the east end of the District Line) but she was an assiduous, hard-working journalist who deserved to infiltrate the men only top table.
Those who highlight her ‘eccentricities’ tend to overlook that she was not only doing a good job in Blackfriars Road but successfully bringing up two daughters.
Her subsequent success editing the Mail’s go-to Saturday TV magazine, which made other telly mags superfluous, says all there is to say.
Happy retirement, H!
Another correspondent writes: I recall that the features editor spent what spare time she had left over from berating her team in sobbing in the loo. A secretary at one stage was obliged to pass a note under the door begging her to come out as Nick Lloyd wished to see her.
Yet another reader recalls:
After she flounced out of the Express her long suffering husband Louis Kirby, calling in favours from his time as deputy editor of the Daily Mail, asked Paul Dacre to give her a job, though warning, according to Kirby’s own account, ‘just don’t let her near any human beings’.
Dacre gave her a junior job on Femail but soon promoted her to the Weekend editorship, telling his execs, ‘Ive found someone even nastier than me!’
At Weekend her rages were legendary.
She once had to send her secretary to Marks and Spencer during her lunch break to buy her some new underwear, explaining ‘I shouted at someone so hard I wet myself’.
And after deciding the £50,000 differential between her salary and that of one of her senior staff was not enough, she went to management and, rather than demand they gave her a raise, insisted they cut his pay instead, which they did, albeit reluctantly, by £25,000!
Simon Hedger,who 'toiled under Heather McGlone’s leadership when she was Features Editor on the Daily Express', writes:
I agree that she was (and probably still is) a very hard-working and talented journalist who forced her way to the top in what was then a predominately male world, but on Express Features she was also demanding, unpredictable and, as A Reader says, at times somewhat eccentric.
On one occasion after some real or imaginary slight she ordered all her backbench (male) colleagues to “just shoo, go away” and they all trooped off sheepishly like naughty schoolboys for 10 minutes or so before creeping back to their work stations.
While much of the above is true, Heather was not a complete villain and some people speak of her kindness — Ed
Michael Buerk on watching Philippa Forrester cuddle up to a male astronomer for warmth during BBC1's UK eclipse coverage remarked: 'They seem cold out there. They're rubbing each other and he's only come in his shorts.’
JUST FANCY THAT
An anagram of‘omicron' is ‘moronic’. Not a lot of people know that.
They do now — Ed
Tyro touch-typist in love, Punch, c1950.
Oh my darlung I adore yoi
Sweet-one wull yoi be my wufe?
Do not spirn me I umplore yoi.
Be the spurut of my lufe.
We wull never, never be bored,
Darlung, uff yoi'll be my bride.
For even on unfeelung keyboard
U and I are side by side.
FINGERS GETS THE BIRD
Times Diary, Oct 26
In talk about the press at Cliveden Literary Festival, Conrad Black mentioned Victor Matthews, his opposite number at Daily Express, who was “a nice man", but at the bottom of his own domestic pecking order.
He had a rather domineering wife,” Black said, “however, the wife was herself intimidated by the family parrot.
He recalled one call with the polite Matthews who was hectored by his wife Joyce: “Don’t put up with it, Victor!”
She would not fall silent for Matthews, but went schtum when the parrot squawked : “Sack the lot! Sack the lot!”
JUST FANCY THAT
You can no longer buy a newspaper in Fleet Street, the closest place being Tesco Express on The Strand, according to honorary Expressman James Dismore.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — Evidently Richard Dismore spread his talents for mummery beyond mere theatrical posters in Joe Allen’s.
Alas, this fetching new design for a Co-Op milkman’s uniform he modelled in 1972 never really caught on, and Dismore was obliged to pursue a less reputable career.
Experts meanwhile have discounted a rival claim that the milkman in question is actually Chris Williams, also formerly of this parish, in happier times.
P R STUNT
Sir — Lunching at Joe Allen, I couldn’t help but notice this theatrical poster featuring former Express executive Richard Dismore in his early days as a putative mummer.
A fine figure of a man to be sure.
Are you sure it’s not Jason King or Peter Wyngarde? — Ed
POEM OF THE DAY
By HUMPHREY PUMPHREY, Poetry Editor
Mary had a little skirt
That was split right up the sides
And everywhere that Mary went
The boys could see her thighs.
Mary had another skirt
That was split right up the front.
She never wore that one.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — Since many of us departed the privileged world of the Daily Express, we are watching words vanish from our vocabulary. Latest casualty: “Batsman”.
Suddenly, even once such hallowed sources of English as the BBC have dumped the word in favour of “Batter”. I blame the 100 and T20 formats. Bish, bash, bosh!
These players are not true batsmen like Colin Cowdrey, Ted Dexter, Geoffrey Boycott, David Gower, et al. Quick-fix cricketers batter the ball with little skill or finesse. Have to say it: I’m stumped for words.
LORD OVAL of TRENT BRIDGE,
Isle of Dogs
Sir — Love him or loathe him, the OFCOM ruling on Piers Morgan was a major statement on freedom of speech in this country and, you would imagine, a significant media story.
The BBC gave it 17.5 seconds airtime 22 minutes into the Six O’clock News; the Grauniad put it on Page 17.
If the ruling had been reversed, do you think these news ‘judgments’ would have pertained?
Sir — Through you, may I appeal to Drone readers for any news about former Expressman John Fox-Clinch? I recall that John was nicknamed after a punctuation mark: semi colon or dog’s cock or something like that.
He was always shy and self-effacing and reluctant to give out many details about himself. I just wondered how he was getting on.
He’s definitely getting on — Ed
Sir — I met a man who has trained his dog to play a trumpet on the Tube. Apparently it went from Barking to Tooting in just over an hour.
Sir — The ‘People v Pets’ Afghan sideshow featuring someone called Farthing reminds of the time when the Queen encountered the Express gardening guru of the same surname at Chelsea Flower Show.
I’d like to think P. Rodnose prevented the immortal picture caption Expressman Farting with the Queen from actually going into the paper but I’m not sure.
It didn’t make the paper but Mr Farthing was bowing to the Queen in the pic making it look as if he was preparing to let one go — Ed
Sir — The Pen Farting imbroglio has created a feeding frenzy for handwringing animal rights zealots, including, it has to be said, ex-Express colleagues.
Numbered among them is someone (it’s kinder not to name her) who styles herself as a Furry Dogmother and who is said to be ‘a dogged (sic) campaigning blogger and twitterer’. Bless.
Sir — My grand daughter went to a nightclub called Gravity and the ceiling fell down. How do you explain that?
Apple Tree Cottage
I can’t, now bugger off — Ed
Sir — I don’t think my new wife was too impressed with my choice of an ‘edgy boutique hotel’ for our honeymoon: bunk beds! It’s one thing on top of another for us two.
Sir — My neighbour says FUCKOFF keeps its meaning when said backwards, but saying FFOKCUF makes you sound Irish. I cannot confirm this as we only hear Geordie round here.
Sir — So many people these days are wearing blue plimsolls with big white ticks. Does the tick mean they've passed the Covid test?
Sir — It’s nice to see a pic of those portly Express pensioners having a good time at the footie.
You mention pies: shouldn’t that be tarts?
Sir — Now that those nice Mujahidden are taking back their country, we look forward to the reinstatement of the Afghan Ball at the Café Royal, one of the highlights of the London social scene of the 1980s.
It was such fun, all that campaigning to get the nasty Russians out of Afghanistan!
DEREK &EDNA PATHAN
Sir — I see the Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle (happy birthday, Big Mac, by the way) records that Queen Victoria used to add scotch to her claret to pep it up. I’ve heard of lemonade, but whisky! Do you think it will catch on?
Family and friends of former Daily Express secretary Helene Costas bade her a final farewell on Friday, July 9,2021 at her funeral in Southwark Cathedral, London.
JUST FANCY THAT
The phrase 'hung like a donkey' has its origins in the Bible. (Ezekiel 23:20: "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses”.)
This is disgusting, remove it from my organ immediately — Lord Drone
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — Since 1997 the British and Irish Lions Player of the Tour has been: Scott Gibbs, Dafydd James, Ryan Jones, Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny and Jonathan Davies.
Could they possibly have something in common, look you?
Good Lord, is that thetime? — Ed
Sir — On my morning walk I regularly come across elastic bands discarded by the postman. These have now been joined by a scattering of thrown-away face masks. Is this stretching things too far?
Sir — I see that Henri Delaunay, founding head of UEFA and father of the Euros, used to be a referee until a ball hit him in the face knocking out two teeth and forcing him to swallow his whistle.
I wonder if a certain actor knows that. Not many people do.
Sir — The fascinating reminiscences of the revise subs from the golden age of the Express reminded me of a priceless piece of quick-thinking by the stand-in revise sub in the early days of my spell on the Express sports desk.
Dear Harry Pashley, stand-in prod on this occasion, was a delight, if on occasions, a little eccentric. Though a little disappointed when he turned down my headline suggestion, I had to admire the way in which he cleverly defended his style point.
After finishing subbing a story, I considered that ‘razzmatazz’ was a perfect fit for part of the headline, recollecting that the noun had appeared recently in news page headline.
In the nicest possible way, Harry called to me way down the subs desk to point out that ‘razzmatazz’ definitely wasn’t used in the Express.
“But H,” I replied, “it was used in news last month.”
“Oh, well,” he replied without hesitation, “it’s only got one z.”
I retired gracefully.
Sir — Reading my former sports colleague Ian Barratt’s letter about Harry Pashley I was reminded of a Sunday evening in the department when Harry walked in from the stone with wet page proofs. The TV was on, showing 85-year-old Artur Rubinstein playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto. Harry looked at the screen and said:”He’s making mistakes, but he’s covering them up well.” Culture in the Games Room, who would have thought?
Sir — Here's a little something for the Great Wine Debaters to mull over. Back in the 60s the popular TV show On the Braden Beat staged a wine-tasting in which blind-folded drinkers were given glasses of red and white, both deliberately served at room temperature. Most couldn't tell the difference.
PS:Chateau Cardboard suits me fine.
Sir — It’s a liberty that the lad who had a laugh with that Covid bloke off the telly faces being banged up. Strewth, it was only a bit of harmless Essex bantz. Whitty? Leave it out: he’s got no sense of humour at all.
Sir — “Critical Race Theory” which is so exercising our woke elite these days is apparently the brainchild of Marxist philosopher Michel Foucault.
Pardon my French but isn’t that pronounced Fuckall?
A. L. INGUIST
Fuck knows, in my day CRT stood for Cathode Ray Tube — Ed
Basil only had to rise from his desk to silence the room. Many a downtable sub visibly paled — in more deferential times, some were reputed to have fallen on their knees, gibbering — when Basil bore down on them, face set in a grimace, shooting his cuffs and clutching an offending galley proof. A comma out of place, a careless misspelling, no transgression went unbollocked.
For an errant sub there was nothing for it but to decamp for a restorative sharpener or two in the Old Bell.
Hard by Table Mountain
Sir —How gratifying to rate a mention in Spike Diver’s excellent eulogy to Express supersubs! A lot of drinking went on in those days and although I can’t remember being Revise Editor I shall take Mr Diver’s word for it. Do you think I might now qualify for an Express pension?
I did once sell Hickey a picture of Sir Julian Huxley’s great grand-daughter, Susannah Huxley, whom I discovered working at El Vino. Could this have caused some confusion?
I wouldn’t have bothered you with this query, but I have always believed that the Drone will continue to prosper only while the letters outweigh the obits, and unfortunate recent events are tipping the balance.
University of Gazunda
Sir — Regular readers of the Drone will appreciate that not only has Aunt Marje previously exposed the inadequacies of Keir Starmer and Anneliese Dodds but summed up former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care the Rt Hon Matthew Bindon-Hancock, MP, as a ‘jumped-up little twat’ when he was being lauded by other less well informed commentators.
How prescient and perceptive does a columnist have to be to graduate from being a trainee?
Ra! Ra! AN RR (t)
I haven’t seen the person to who you refer for months — Ed
Sir — Watching the warm-up match of the British and Irish Lions’ tour, I notice from the names on their shirts that all the Japan players are called Toshiba. Typical Oriental cunning, of course, but you’ve got to admire them for it.
Llanvihangel-Ystern-Llewern 3rd XV (The Tossers)
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — I see Labour has urged Matt Hancock to “get a grip” following the shock revelation of his secret dalliance.
I thought The Sun’s front-page picture showed he had a very firm handful indeed of the lady’s left buttock.
Lucky that print and broadcast heroes just happened to be there to report in breathless, first person purple prose as the ‘drama-drenched’ minutes ticked by and, er, everyone went back to the wardroom.
Simple, really. Load your warship with hacks, sail into disputed territory, wait for the inevitable, nay obligatory, reaction, withdraw and then fuck off home.
Sir — If your readership
Sir —Three of us went for a meal at our newly reopened pub. I watched a waitress put a pint of beer and a bottle of red and two glasses on a tray. She set it down on our table and announced that Covid bollocks prevented her taking the drinks off the tray and would we mind doing it.
What the fuck’s that all about, little Mattie Hancock?
Sir — Willie Rushton’s amusing tips reminded me of a game ranger pal of mine who had spent a week squiring a wealthy American tourist through the African bush — dawn game drives, late-night barbecues at the watering hole etc.
As the Yank prepared to leave he asked my friend: “You want a tip?” My friend blushed expectantly.
“Never tie your shoelaces in a revolving door,” he said, driving off.
Sir — Acclaim (Eh? — Ed) for my earlier letter on bizarre Lincolnshire place names which could also be P.G. Wodehouse characters, prompts me to add some more: Burton Pedwardine, Boothby Parnell, Burton Le Coggles, Heydour Warren, Caythorpe Heath and Ewerby Thorpe.
Sir — Watching the late night TV newspaper reviews after taking blood pressure pills in advance, I wondered if it struck other former hacks how easy it now is for the loony Left to use the spot as a platform for their own personal views about running the country and why wallpaper should be banned.
All they have to do is set up a website no one reads, with a title no one understands — say Cosmic Nonsense — give themselves a title that would take years to attain in Fleet Street, and the TV studios’ media advisers, The Guardian, would recommend them for the appearance, providing they weren’t over 25.
Surely the time is right for our very own Lord Drone to take up the crusade against these bright, young, Yasmin Alibaba-Brown devotees, who know so much about the world, and appear himself … an Editor so respected on the patch.
Surely the producers would jump at the chance of learning a thing or two from the website that has become a bible of our trade?
TENERIFE TEL, renting in dreamy Dollis Hill.
Good idea, but it might be past my bedtime — Ed
Sir — I was shocked to see a headline in the Telegraph today about “shoehorning lesbian scenes”. Good grief! Is this some woke rite of passage? It sounds very painful indeed.
But since moving to Sunny Lincolnshire (very nice, since you ask, but don’t mention the fucking C [for conveyancers] word) I realise it’s a rural trait.
Near me are Cherry Willingham, Boothby Graffoe and Carlton Scroop.
Are you sure they’re not
P.G Wodehouse characters?
Sir — The recent fine weather has prompted me to get my summer wardrobe out of lockdown. I’m pleased to report that at least one item still fits: a rather nice linen scarf I bought in Bellagio a few years ago.
Sir — As colour-blind casting in the arts grows apace with the new Anne Boleyn TV series, surely a Netflix biopic about the life of Martin Luther King Jr, starring Kenneth Branagh, with Morgan Freeman as President Lyndon Johnson, Emma Thompson as Coretta King, and Lenny Henry as Bobby Kennedy, cannot be long delayed.
ARSE GRATIA ARTIS
Sir — I’m afraid you’ve been had by `Daredevil’ Charles C. Ebbets, or his sponsors, the Acme Shoe Co of New Jersey.
Come on, would a safety conscious bloke who sports both belt and braces really risk everything astride a girder up above New York?
I don’t buy it; he’s a poser.
Check the trouser creases, the artfully crooked little finger and elegantly pointed co-respondent’s shoe. For my money the real heroes are Acme’s marketing team and the poor sod on the next beam who pictured Ebbet’s elegant stance.
University of Gazunda
You shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers. The Drone’s motto is: We may not be first with the news but we’re always wrong — Ed.
Sir — I was so excited when I read that you planned a major revamp of the World’s Greatest Online Newspaper. Now you have completed the transformation…wow! Congratulations on a great job: it looks so much more modern, en pointe and niche in a sophisticated way.
To tell you the truth, the old version had grown a bit tired and rough around the edges so well done to you for spotting it and taking such successful action. Bravi to the Drone team!
Have you been drinking again? — Ed
Former Daily Express features sub-editor Sue Bromley has died from cancer. She was 75.
Sue lived in retirement at Cockerham, near Lancaster, and in recent years worked at the Lancashire Archive.
Her friend and colleague Nick Hill told the Drone: "Sue was a typical outspoken, tell-it-like-it-is character and a room lit up when she walked in.
"Her straight-talking and often colourful language was not to everyone’s taste but she was a good operator and pretty unforgettable."
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — We’re all grateful that the Covid roadmap allows us to enter licensed premises again but I’d forgotten the risk of encountering the pub bore.
Look who I ran into at my local, the Rose Without Trace.
Sir — Following the suggestion by Tony Hall-Shanks that you employ a certain M Bashir, may I make a similar recommendation? A previous employee of mine, D Cummings, is without work or useful activity and has taken to frightening the horses. He is a hard-working, intensely loyal and thoroughly discreet individual who would make an excellent chauffeur for the Drone limousine.
Sir — Recently, while discussing possible holiday alternatives with my rather elderly mother-in-law, she intimated with a sigh of resignation that she was finally looking forward to the relaxation of Covid-19 rules and regulations.
Yesterday, I happened to mention that, if she were interested, she could now visit Iceland.
She peered at me with her typical look of displeasure. "Oh, no," she said, "I don't think so. I've got far too used to Tesco.”
(Name and address not supplied)
Hi, Al. How’s it hanging? Long time no see: fucking Covid! I was hoping to invite you to a piss-up at the National but events forced me to knock that on the nut. I’m writing to put in a good word for a journo, one of my lads, looking for a job.
Dedicated, inventive, ingenious and a good interviewer. You could do a lot worse than Martin Bashir. Love to LP, Spike and the gang.
Sir — If you are having trouble squeezing the 540-page Drone into its new smart format, here's an old stone-sub's trick, to be used in desperation: Cut from the bottom up, irrespective of content, but always leave the last par in to make 'em think you'd read it all.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sir — I was so pleased when hubby bought me this top quality David Austin rose. Then I saw what it’s called: do you think he’s trying to tell me something?
Sir — Regular Drone readers will recall that Aunt Marje was one of the first to query the suitability of Anneliese Dodds to be Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (If Ms Dodds is the answer, what the fuck was the question?)
How perceptive does a columnist have to be to graduate from being a trainee?
Ra! Ra! AN R.R (t)
She could start by turning in some decent copy — Ed
My dear Sir —Staring dimly at your august organ reminded me of the days that when the Slopers were out of the building, we erks on the art desk would amuse ourselves by sending the art desk clerk’s sandwiches down ‘the tube’ to the process department.
Dobbie (for it was he) would always be unamused, but would send his ‘runner’ (if ever there was a misused word) down several flights to retrieve them. Occasionally, I believe, they returned with a bite missing…
Four-eyed art bod, the Tim Holder era…
Sir — Since ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer was elected Labour leader, the Drone’s Aunt Marje has twice warned readers that ‘there is less to him than meets the eye.’ How prescient does a columnist have to be to graduate from being a trainee?
Ra Ra, AN R.R (t)!
Who? — Ed
Sir — I’ve been having a spring clean/lockdown turnout and am a frequent visitor to our local recycling centre. I’ve enjoyed the banter with binmen Ashley, Dave and the lads but now they’ve invited me down the pub when Covid restrictions end. Frankly, I’d rather not go but how can I refuse?
Sir — Forgive me for saying it but I think the Daily Drone’s looking a bit tired and unoriginal of late. Boring pictures of snappers in beer crates; piss poor petitions; contrived, unfunny kildares
(limericks, surely — Ed) and as for the ubiquitous Shankses, well they can fuck off for a start.
I remember when you used to run interesting things about overheard conversations in supermarkets, old films on the telly, and a nostalgic, haunting, evocative series inspired by a train stopping at a station in the Cotswolds before the Great War.
If you’re short of someone to write some good stuff I know just the lad.
Come on, Ed: it’s game-raising time!
ELVIRA MULDOON (Mrs)
Oh do fuck off, Spotty — Ed
Sir — What a pleasure to re-read Vincent Mulchrone’s ‘Two rivers run silently through London’ piece from Churchill’s Lying in State in the Daily Mail’s 125th anniversary supplement. The phrase ‘Fleet Street giant’ tends to be over used but Mulchrone truly was a legend — and not only in his lunchtime.
Sir — How quickly vogue becomes passee. My 23-year-old grand daughter was, understandably, chuffed to find Rod Stewart and his wife, Penny, at the next table to her outside a London riverside restaurant. But her family WhatsApp photograph of the occasion was greeted by my youngest grand daughter, aged 15, with: ‘Who’s that? They look like any old couple.’
Sir — Re Welsh pluckers. A certain wise monarch was also a keen ukulele player, viz:
King Solomon had a thousand wives,
He'd serenade them daily.
But what's the use of a thousand wives
If you've only got one ukulele?
Did George Formby sing this? Can't be sure. Further research needed.
My excellent limerick, by RONNIE GIGGLES
There was a young lady of Dee
Who was stung on the arm by a wasp.
When they said, 'Does it hurt?'
She replied, 'Not at all.
'I'm lucky it wasn't a hornet.’
Er, Ronnie? Could you glance into my office, luv? — Ed
Our good friend, the prolific and successful novelist Rory Clements, has a new book out.
A Prince and a Spyis the thrilling follow up to the Sunday Times bestseller Hitler's Secret.
Tom Wilde returns to unravel a dangerous mystery that goes all the way to the heart of the Third Reich — and the British Monarchy.
We have yet to read this book but if Rory’s past novels are anything to go by it is recommended.
Rory has heldsenior positions on several newspapers including the Daily Express, Daily Mail and Today.
A cracking new thriller by former Expressman Robin McGibbon is now available from Amazon.
The semiauto-biographical novel is set in Fleet Street with characters that may be recognisable — only the names have been changed.
This is the synopsis:
Vengeance comes at a price. A loyal reporter faithful to an emotional secret pact.
A power-crazed editor hungry for revenge, acorrupt police chief obsessed with money, a loving wife who fears the worst.
All four caught up in a scandal of blackmail and vice that disgraced Scotland Yard and changed the way Britain was policed.
Final Deadline, a fast-paced, dialogue-led story, soaked in the atmosphere of 70s’ London, tells the story of ex-national newspaper reporter Ross McLean, whose misplaced loyalty to former local paper colleague Harry Wise has catastrophic consequences for both of them.
BOB JOHNSTON TRIBUTE
JON ZACKON has written a heartfelt tribute to his old friend and colleague Bob Johnston, who has died aged 93.
Bob, a former Mirror executive and Daily Sketch MD in the Sixties, passed away at his home in St Agnes in Cornwall.
He leaves a widow Joan, aged 90 and brother Don, 80. The couple had no children.
JEFF’S NEW BOOK
Jeff Connor, a former
sub-editor on the Daily Express and Daily Star in Manchester, has a new book out.
Busby’s Last Crusade tells the story of Manchester United’s rise from the ashes of the Munich air crash in 1958 to the team’s European Cup victory 10 years later.
With more than 200 images, the book features the humble Scot who led them there, the legendary Matt Busby.
Still dark out
ZACK’S NEW BOOK
Our chum Jon Zackon, of this parish, has finally extracted his digit and published his latest novel, Sealion Drowning as an
e-book on Amazon.
The book — Lord Drone describes it as an excellent read — is set in August 1940.
Churchill is shown a report that states that any German invasion will fail. He loves the idea. If true it could lead to his first victory over the Nazis.
It becomes apparent later that Hitler is also sceptical of his chances. So Churchill takes a massive gamble — to lure Hitler into invading.
FRONT PAGE EXTRA
In an attempt to make this Home Page a little smaller and less crowded, I have created Front Page Extra.
Gradually, as time permits, many stories will be removed from this page — but fear not, all of them have already been transferred to their new home.
As a bonus, the new page will give pictures a better display — Ed.
YOUR DAILY DRONE
The Daily Drone is the work of several contributors, most of whom are retired Daily and Sunday Express journalists.
WORLD’S GREATEST QUOTE
A journalist who has never worked for the Express is like a soldier who has never marched to the sound of gunfire — Brian Inglis
YOUR MIGHTY DRONE
The Daily Drone was conceived, published and financed by Alastair McIntyre, former chief sub-editor of the Daily Express, where he was widely known as Bingo.
For the purposes of this website, drones are people who sit around doing nothing, as in a bee colony. We have no connection withremote-controlledpilotless aircraft or missiles.
All contributions are welcome.
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Here I sit alone at sixty
Bald and fat and full of sin
Cold the seat and loud the cistern
As I read the Harpic tin
– Alan Bennett parodying John Betjeman
OLD DRONE STORIES
YOU HAVE HAVE MISSED
The Daily Drone has grown into a huge website over the years and indexing has been a nightmare. Here are few stories from the old version of the Drone which deserve a wider audience.
JOBS FOR THE BOYS
Interviews for jobs on the Express could besomewhat perfunctory in the 1970s as ROGER WATKINS found out after along drive North.
Here at the Drone we slaved for 12 Daily Express editors.How many did you work for?
Thursday, 15 December 2022 at 21:07