One in the Eye 1973

9th February, 1973

The tip of the Bormann iceberg is slowly surfacing to expedite the sinking of the Good Ship Daily Express.

On 1st February, tucked away on page 7, the Express (perhaps fearing legal action rather more than Nazi assassins) grovelingly apologised for a whole chunk of its world-shattering discovery last November than M. Bormann was alive, well and living in the Argentine.

One Dr Grimaldi had been informatively and uncompromisingly branded as a stooge for Bormann Enterprises in three local companies. These fearless disclosures about the Nazi Mafia were based on an ‘intelligence report’ from indefatigable Bormann hunter Ladislas Farago, which even the Express has no belief in. How long will it be before a similar correction appears to the not so intelligent report that writ-waving Buenos Aires schoolmaster Rodolfo Siri was really the rejuvenated Nazi deputy Fuehrer?

6th April, 1973

Grovel writes: Machiavelli still lurks the darker corridors of Fleet Street. While Jean ‘Glenda’ Rook is in Paris this week for the fashions, it will be announced that blonde, vivacious Jolly Sooper [aka Jilly Cooper] will soon be joining the Express at a salary not unadjacent to £15,000 a year, £4,000 more than the ungainly Rook who will no longer be billed as the First Lady of Fleet Street.

In any eyeball to eyeball office confrontation the Rook, who hails from the provincial purlieus of Petts Wood, will be no match for the super sophisticate Sooper.

*****

The Daily Express is searching desperately meanwhile for recruits.

Even extremists such as Comrade P Foot of Protz’s weekly are being offered jobs and, it is widely believed, rejecting them.

One person rumoured to have offered the editorship of the paper is talented, unpleasant Peter Baker, Chief Right-Hand Man of ‘Gypsy Dave’ Frost. He too is thought to have turned the offer down.

*****

A payment of £20,000 is being withheld by Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd from Ladislas Farago, perpetrator of the bizarre Bormann fiasco which has effectively destroyed the last vestiges of credibility of the Daily Express.

Why are they welshing? I challenge Piranha and Biggles either to pay up like gentlemen or admit to their fast dwindling band of readers that they were conned. 

20th April 1973

The annual presentation of awards to journalists has received another paralysing blow from this year’s IPC awards.

Typical of the state of affairs is the honouring of a certain John Morgan of the Daily Express the title ‘Sports Writer of the Year’.

Morgan’s sports column ‘Morgan on Monday’ is so bad that it is frequently removed from the Northern edition by his colleagues in the Manchester edition of the Daily Express.

Quite how he got the award remains something of a mystery. The Daily Express has never entered the IPC awards competition before. But this year with the launching of a new-look paper it was decided by the editor, Ian McColl, that they could do with some awards to tack on to their bylines.

Morgan was quick to gather his cuttings together and send them round to IPC. But, rather surprisingly, none of his colleagues did the same. Morgan did not apparently pass on the message to the other Express sports writers. The result was that the IPC had no alternative, having decided to honour the Express, but to give Morgan the award.

Morgan’s colleagues, including Desmond Hackett, 63, are reported to be incensed by the award. The only other person apart from Morgan to be pleased is his son, Maurice, who works in the Manchester office.

John Morgan is 54.

******

An exclusive interview with the relatives of a citizen who had died of smallpox was carried by the Daily Express last week. Picture and interview were secured by intrepid Expressmen Frank Howitt and Michael Stroud from the foot of the beleaguered garden. Howitt fearlessly shouted out his questions and Stroud wielded a telephoto lens.

When this story reached Express sub-editors panic broke out. An emergency meeting was called. The Medical Correspondent was summoned.

Would the subs be in danger of smallpox if Howitt and Stroud were allowed back in the office? No said the Medico. Both had been vaccinated and anyway they had been too far away to be infected.

The subs were unreassured. Howitt and Stroud have been sent home for 19 days.

Grovel writes:

The relaunching of the Daily Express was not attended by Deputy Chairman Captain John Coutt (RN, submerged). But he has now returned to his favourite Fleet Street hostelries somewhat slimmer from an Iberian holiday. Can this have something to do with a dinner party the other day between him and his owner Sir ‘Blue’ Max Aitken? ‘You are a very fat man, Coutt. I do not like fat men,’ lashed out the witty Aitken.

Miss Jolly Sooper wishes to inform us that she will not be joining the awful Express at any salary whatsoever.

4th May 1973

All seems far from well these days between the Daily Express and Ladislas Farago, the intrepid discoverer of Nazi leader Martin Bormann. It seems that heresy may be infesting the Black Lubjanka of Fleet Street, with some men daring to suggest that Bormann is far from alive and well in the Argentine.

Certainly the Express have shown a surprising reluctance to persist with Farago’s world ‘scoop’ of only five months ago. This may have something to do with the Farago/Express ‘Bormann’ turning out to be writ-waving Buenos Aires teacher Rudolf Siri.  On April 12 the Express devoted a half page to attack recent German evidence presented in Frankfurt that Herr Bormann died in May 1945. However, there was but brief mention of their articles ‘asserting’ the Nazi leader was alive.

However Sir Max Aitken and the other chief disciple, Express editor Ian McColl (‘I am quite sure of it. Nothing that took place at Frankfurt changes my mind.’ Times 12th April)  - have no cause for doubt. For fearless Farago has promised publicly to make the real Martin Bormann to stand up very shortly. He told questioners from Granada TV’s World in Action team three weeks ago that he confidently expected to produce the Nazi bigwig within a month and definitely before the end of 1973. The Daily Express, representing the world, alone would meet the ageing and fast-fading Nazi now, some might say conveniently, half a goosestep into the grave.

However, the ungrateful Express seem slow to appreciate the chance of another ‘world-beating’ coup. Just before Easter Farago claimed Bormann was arriving in the Argentine where Expressman Andrew Fyall was waiting to meet him. However, no word of this historic confrontation has reached the outside world. This may have something to do with the fact that the deputy Fuehrer apparently wanted £10,000 just to have his picture taken - no interviews allowed - before disappearing back in the rain forest. Mr Farago, not to mention Mr Bormann, does not appreciate vulgar haggling over mere money.

This is not the first disagreement between Farago and the Express along the Bormann trail. His collaborator, ex-Express foreign editor Stewart Steven, has since joined the rival Daily Mail which does not support the Farago view.

Farago says he only claims to prove that Bormann did not die in Berlin but escaped to the Argentine. Despite the week-long Express series he admits to no concrete evidence that the Nazi boss was alive after 1948. Furthermore he says that his suggested headline for the ‘scoop’ was ‘Documents show that Bormann survived’, which somehow came out on November 25 as ‘Martin Bormann alive’. Farago says he suspected Siri was not Bormann – due perhaps to a difference of 20 years in age and several inches in height – and asked the Express not to use the pictures.

Sentiments like these, when expressed to Granada, prompted an anguished interruption from Expressman John Ellison who had demanded to sit in on the interview. Ellison halted Farago’s determined dumping of the Express by pointing out there were certain legal problems regarding Senor Siri.

1st June 1973

Grovel writes: The unhappiest man in London last Thursday night was undoubtedly ‘Chips and Four Forks’ Ian McColl, editor of the Daily Express, whose body is now covered by the tiny puncture marks of the deadly Piranha-toothed managing editor Jocelyn Stevens.

When News at Ten revealed that the Daily Mail had printed a picture of Lambton’s girls, and Stevens realised that all the Express had was Chapman Pincher getting the name wrong, he stormed across the print room towards McColl shouting ‘Look at this, look at this! Your very future hangs by a gossamer thread!’

Stevens then emphasised his point by going upstairs and firing news editor Jack Fawcett (at a cost of £22,000).

******

Amazing acts of desperation are emanating from Chateau Despair  where Beaverbrook executives are offering reckless sums of money to Daily Mail staffers to join the sinking Daily Express ship. The table reads:

Patrick Sergeant £27,000 per annum (refused)

David Lewin £25,000 per annum (refused)

Ian Wooldridge £15,000 per annum and Sports Editorship (refused)

Walter Terry £14,000 per annum and a Citroen (accepted)

John Edwards £9,000 per annum (refused).

******

At a dinner at The Dorchester for high-powered marketing men, the Piranha spoke about marketing the new Daily Express. Maybe he was trying to be funny but he suddenly launched into an attack on Biggles’s band of men.

He claimed he was head of Imperial Pterodactyl Airways employing a Neanderthal staff whose hands reached well below their knees. He added that his sales lackeys were appalling and that he had been trying to fire one member all day but hadn’t been able to find him. Beaverbrook ‘A’ shares are languishing at 95p, down, deservedly, from the year’s high of 133p.

15th June 1973

Grovel writes: The black glass Lubjanka of Fleet Street throbbed with dissension when the last copy of Grovel was scanned. Armed with his Eye, Sports Editor John Morgan (yet to be forgiven by his colleagues for the manner in which he ‘won’ the Sportswriter of the Year award) confronted hapless Editor Ian McColl with my information that the Daily Mail’s Ian Wooldridge had been offered (and refused) his job and a booty of £15,000 per annum. When McColl was unable to satisfy the woolly-haired Morgan to the contrary he resigned as sports editor.

29th June 1973

Grovel writes: Those who tuned into The Editors on June 15 in the hope of seeing megalomaniac Jocelyn Piranha Teeth Stevens making an exhibition of himself were not disappointed. His airy announcement that for the first time in years that the Express is to have adequate political coverage was not best received by the sacked political editor Wilfred Sendall.

Resenting the imputation that his years in that august position had been marked by gross incompetence he forthwith approached his solicitors with a view to claiming damages at the nice round sum of £5,000.

Other ageing hacks who have recently departed from the Black Lubjanka with only a redundancy cheque to cover their loins are waiting eagerly for Piranha’s next appearance in the hope of profiting from further ill-judged insults. 

13th July 1973

Grovel writes: The very Left Wing Dennis Hacket is now apparently favourite in the Daily Express Editor’s Sweepstake after his arrival there less than a month ago.

His past record in failed glossy magazines (D. Mirror magazine) should recommend him to Piranha Teeth Stevens, although his ‘Leftist’ views may not endear him to Sir Max Aitken, who has already quashed one unsatisfactory profile of his own friend Ian Smith, written by Dennis.

24th August 1973

Grovel (aka Nigel Dempster, allegedly) writes: News of the Daily Express. Ian McColl, the floundering editor of the wailing wall, is endeavouring to make up for his journalistic inadequacies by displaying a mindless callousness towards his staff. Viz Arnold Latcham, for many years Express court reporter.

Last July Latcham barely survived an air crash in Corfu. Staggering from the smouldering wreckage, thinking only of the paper, he dictated the story of his escape, which was the page one lead for the next day. Recovered at last from his injuries the gallant Latcham went back to work at the Old Bailey, until the March bomb sent him back to hospital with a burst eardrum. 

Last week he once again checked in at the Lubjanka to report back for duty, only to be informed by the loathsome McColl that ‘there’s no job for you here.’ McColl offered a nugatory redundancy payment, together with the helpful suggestion that Latcham should try for a job writing obituaries for the Daily Telegraph.

7th September 1973

Really, if he wishes to occupy an exposed position such as the editorship of the Daily Express, Mr Ian McColl should learn not to to be so sensitive. My description of him as loathsome in my last column  was no excuse for going into hysterics.

Not that he does not have much on his mind at the moment: is the £12,000 a year to be paid to the avaricious MP Clement Freud to write a weekly article and jump when his told to, a sound investment? Will the awful Jean Rook accept the offer of £25,000 to go away?

Meanwhile Piranha Teeth Stevens has his own problems. He has been telling me how worried he is that Sir Max ‘Biggles’ Aitken has stopped inviting him to his parties. As no one likes him any more he is sad at the thought of losing his last friend and protector. Biggles himself is once more enjoying happiness with his friend of many years. Miranda Noel-Buxton, despite the interval in their relationship earlier this year when Miranda, for some reason got married to her protector, Pat McGraw. Luckily after three weeks McGraw went back to the States and Miranda was, by deed poll, once more her old self with the help of Biggles.

21st September 1973

The callousness of the much-loathed Ian McColl, the garden gnome-sized editor of the Daily Express, knows no bounds. The paper’s veteran crime reporter Percy Hoskins, a man who has served the Express for 50 years, discovered this when he spotted a crowd of McColl’s balding young eagles sniggering around an office notice board. To his sheer horror Hoskins read that the paper was to have a new crime reporter, a certain Mr Owen Summer [sic], formerly of the Daily Mail. It was the first news that the old crime man had of the change.

 19th October 1973

Grovel: Sir Max Aitken has let it be known that he does not like fat men or people who wear brown shoes or employees who drink overmuch. He has gone on the wagon which may be a hint to Captain John Coote RN (submerged) who is a very fat man who wears brown shoes and drinks overmuch and may not last much longer as Deputy Chairman of Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd, a position coveted by the agile Piranha.

2nd November 1973

In an effort to get ‘big name’ interviews, the Daily Express is plumbing new depths of deception. The only way that David Wigg, their prettier-than-anyone-deserves-to-be pop reporter, could inveigle Bianca Jagger to give an interview was by promising that he would print her age as a ludicrous 23. There are yellowing cuttings extant in all Fleet Street libraries that reveal Mrs jagger’s true age to be perilously near 30.

Grovel writes: The forlorn cry of abandon ship was heard emanating from Chateau Despair, reported to be listing badly, last week. First rat over the side was superstar Hugh McIlvanney who is returning to the intellectual havens of The Observer for a bribe in the region of £10,000 a year. McIlviolence is thought to have deserted Biggles’ unhappy band because of a lack of regard for his superiors.

Next one out was Ron Morgans, thought by some to have been the paper’s Picture Editor for the past two years. His first stop, via various hostelries, was his solicitor. Future defectioons will be faithfully recorded.

*******

The Daily Express was not pleased with the war corresponding of one Harry Dempster (brother of the Mail’s Nigel Dempster, notorious Fleet Street drunk). In the early days of the war the Express was unable to contact the vile Dempster. They would have done better to telephone the local police station where Dempster was languishing for some time having been ‘captured’ by the local fuzz in a somewhat tired and emotional state at the wheel of a hire car.

16th November 1973

So bereft of a social life is Ian McColl, believed to be editor of the Daily Express, that he has taken to whipping William Hickey’s free loan invitations in order to occupy his evenings. The other night found him at one such with charming Mrs Brenda ‘I’ve sown all the sequins on myself’ McColl at a bash given by Ravi Tikkoo to celebrate the launching of his new tanker.

It mattered not that Ravi (‘Wogs begin at Park Lane’) was not himself present, for the diminutive McColl (58) feasted himself so much that he was found to be tired and emotional in the early hours and was escorted off the Thames steamer on which the party was held. But the evening’s entertainment was clearly not over for Ian and Brenda. At a few minutes after 4am frantic emergency calls were made and wee Ian carted off to hospital at great speed.

At St Bart’s there was found little wrong with him except that, mystifyingly, he was suffering from a dislocated jaw. An ensuing, thorough examination of Brenda by worried medicos failed to reveal any Dracula-like marks about her body.

28th December 1973

Christmas has come a little early this year for the chaotic photographic department of the Daily Getsmuchworse. When the vile Harry Dempster learned that, due to oversight, his pictures had not been submitted to the panel judging the Rothmans Photographer of the Year competition, he stormed the bastions of the mighty and demanded retribution. In case Dempster spread the word to other dissident cameramen at Chateau Despair, he was given the same amount - £500 - that the eventual winner of the competition received.

One in the Eye 1974


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