1st February 1980
Sensational news about fragrant [Sunday Express] hackette Olga Maitland.
Ollie is to stand for the European Parliament at Strasbourg.
And it does not stop there, cries Fleet Street’s fairest wordsmith. She also wants a Tory seat in the Commons.
The betting is that lady Olga will reach the Commons before her grateful Sunday Express employer Sir Jonah (McQuilp) Junor takes his seat on the red leather seats of the Lords.
[Drone note: Lady Olga Maitland subsequently became Member of Parliament for Sutton and Cheam from 1992 to the 1997 General Election that swept the Conservative Party from government when she lost to Liberal Democrat Paul Burstow. She unsuccessfully fought the seat again in 2001. Junor, who died in 1997, was knighted in 1980 but never made it to the Lords.]
15th February 1980
Auberon Waugh’s Diary
On my first day back in Britain I discover that my dear old friend Sid Yobbo [Derek Jameson] has at last had the courage to put female nipples into his exciting new Daily Express. It was only in October 1978 that Sid, enraged by being described as editor of the Tits-by-Christmas, made a solemn and binding promise in public: ‘Ve Dighly Express will never carry nippos.’
Sixteen months later we are told that the nippos prominently displayed on page nine belong to an actress appearing in a film with Dudley Moore. They are captioned: ‘Bo Derek … super scorer’. [sic]
Of Dudley we read: ‘A glimpse of Bo Derek on her way to her wedding has his loins in turmoil.’
Sid is one of the few honest and respectable editors left in Fleet Street, but I wonder if Bo Derek’s nipples will be quite enough to save the Daily Express. How long will it be before we are treated to a view of Dudley’s loins in turmoil?
14th March 1980
Street of Shame
Bewitched by Margaret Thatcher, Sunday Express editor Sir Jonah Junor failed to notice a scoop in his own paper last week. Lady Olga Maitland managed to interview Prince Philip who, on the record, was critical of the Government over the Olympic row. The story was buried, without comment, on page two in case it embarrassed Junor’s benefactress.
[Drone note: The British Olympic Association had defied the Government which wanted Britain to join the US-led boycott of the 1980 summer Games because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979]
Felicity Green, the former Mirror hackette who joined the Getsworse on Monday as Associate Editor, is heading for greater things I hear.
She will become Fleet Street’s first woman Editor – of the Getsworse.
Tiny Green is a formidable lady who was once on the board of the Mirror. She is being paid £50,000 a year with perks, and has already drawn up a ‘death list’ of highly paid, but expendable, Getsworse hacks.
11th April 1980
Street of Shame
These are exciting days on the Daily Smut, now under the leadership of Derek ‘Pearly King’ Jameson, opera-loving habitué of Regine’s night club.
Oxford double-first Peter Grimsditch, the editor, has been fired, and is now engaged in a legal rumpus with the Getsworse management over his golden handshake and office car.
He was offered one year’s salary in lieu of notice. ‘Grimbles’ wants two years plus the car – a Jaguar.
Meanwhile he is engaged in discussions with the Dirty Digger, Rupert Murdoch, concerning a position on the Smut’s chief rival, The Sun.
It is believed that his knowledge of Smut affairs – he personally set the paper up in Manchester – could put the dagger into the Digger’s hand that could cut the Smut’s throat for ever.
Meanwhile “Pearly’ is casting about for thrilling new material to present to Smut readers and, in this connection, has published the work of a little-known talent, one Ellen Petrie.
Pearly thought so highly of Miss Petrie’s work that the former Tit Bits writer was paid £5,000.
Who is Ellen Petrie?
She is, unofficially, Mrs Pearly King and achieved fleeting fame a few weeks ago by literally jumping on Brian [Prince Charles] and proposing to him in the street. Police said later she came within an inch of being shot dead as a potential nutter.
Drone note: After the broadcast of the 1969 documentary Royal Family, Private Eye satirised the Royal Family by giving them working-class names as though they were soap opera characters: the Queen was Brenda, the Duke of Edinburgh, Keith; Princess Margaret, Yvonne; the Prince of Wales, Brian; and Diana, the Princess of Wales, Cheryl.
A number of anxious calls from readers of the Sunday Getsworse who notice a new name at the head of the gossip column.
Has fragrant hackette Lady Olga Maitland been fired by her malevolent and uncivil employer?
Not at all. I can reveal that the gorgeous gossiper is travelling in France with her husband, the canny barrister Robin Hay.
25th April 1980
Street of Shame
Fleet Street squeaks about high pay rises causing ruinous inflation should be taken with the usual pinch of salt.
News International (Sun, News of the World) have just awarded their hacks 27 per cent.
Mirror men are demanding 32 per cent, and will settle for around 30 per cent. The Getsworse, staggering from crisis to crisis and losing an estimated £250,000 a week on the Daily Smut, will soon face a 40 per cent claim. They will settle for around 25 per cent.
I hear that veteran Sunday Getsworse editor Sir Jonah Junor is under siege from Fingers Matthews and is making his last stand.
Fingers wants his friend Kenneth Fleet, whom he made City Editor on the Sunday Express, given more space in the paper – two pages instead of one.
Sir Jonah is adamantly blocking this. He is also incensed that Fleet appealed over his head to Fingers to get permission to do the Prudential ads that started appearing in the papers last week. The first Sir Jonah knew about them was when he saw them in print. He was appalled, as was most of Fleet Street, because he cannot see how Fleet can continue to be an independent City Editor when he has sold himself to Prudential.
But it does not bother Matthews, who wants Fleet to take over from Junor within the year.
Desperately looking for buyers of his flagging Express group of newspapers, Victor Matthews may at last have a taker. Heiress Vivien Clore (who has stated that she doesn’t want to contest father Charlie’s £80 million will) was expecting to meet lover Jocelyn Stevens the other night when a message filtered through that he had been detained at Chateau Despair and would have to cancel.
‘If that business continues to interfere with my sex life,’ shrieked our Viv, ‘I’ll bloody well buy the newspapers.’
*Drone note: Vivien and Jocelyn were partners for 32 years until they separated in 2005.
9th May 1980
Street of Shame
Is poor Derek ‘Sid Yobbo’ Jameson, stuck in the mire of the Daily Smut, losing his sense of humour?
Sid is suing the BBC for making him Man of the Week on the radio comedy show.
Here is the offending script from Radio Four’s Week Ending:
This week we burrow into the no-bars-barred world of Fleet Street, to pay tribute to an editor who sees reality with half an eye, humour with half a wit, and circulation figures with half an aspirin. Yes, the Daily Star’s editor of the month and our MAN OF THE WEEK is Derek Jameson.
In Derek Jameson we have the archetypal East End boy made bad: narrowly surviving a term of active service on the Mirror, he retired from newspaper work to become editor of the Daily Express. He arrived uncluttered with taste or talent and took to his new role like a duck to orange sauce; displaying an editorial policy characteristically simple – all the nudes fit to print and all the news printed to fit.
But it’s as a craftsman we remember him best: the writer who thinks from the wrist, the author who is to journalism what lockjaw is to conversation, and the creative force who’s made the Daily Express what it is today – the thinking man’s bin liner. Never lost for cliches, Derek Jameson is always ready to speak his mind – however small.
But tonight we honour him for his promotion to the lofty obscurity of the Daily Star. We salute him as an editor with the common touch, who regards nudity as only skin deep, an who still believes that ‘erudite’ is a glue.
So join us now as we congratulate this man of a few syllables as he approaches his new labour of lust and starts the ball rolling, in the paper that put the media into mediocrity. Derek Jameson, the nitty-gritty titivation tout from Trafalgar House is our MAN OF THE WEEK.
*Drone note: Jameson sued the BBC for libel, but lost the action when it came to court in February 1984. While the jury found the broadcast defamatory, they also considered it fair comment and Jameson had to pay costs of £75,000, which crippled him financially.
9th May 1980
Fingers Matthews is showing advanced signs of Press Baron megalomania.
His latest fetish is having pictures of himself taken with the genuine high-and-mighty – in the forlorn hope that some of their glamour will rub off on his seedy self. The photographs are blown up to massive size and then gaudily framed in half-inch Hogarth, black and gold.
The latest masterpiece shows the whelk-guzzler beaming at a non-plussed Dame Vera Lynn.
Lady Olga tells me she has arranged a series of glittering luncheons at the Getsworse. Would I be a guest?
That will depend, I say, on who else has been invited.
The doyenne of hackettes becomes uncharacteristically demure. ‘You shall have to wait and see, my dear!’ she shrills.
At the very first function I learn that the guests will be no other than Princess Michael of Kent – and Victor ‘Fingers’ Matthews.
Whelks are on the menu, I understand.
23rd May 1980
City Editor Kenneth Fleet’s advertising campaign for Prudential Assurance is still causing controversy in the Black Lubianka Express building currently run by Victor Matthews. Sunday Express editor Sir Jonah Junor is believed to be horrified by the series and even the whelk-guzzler Matthews now accepts that the shameless self-enrichment of Fleet has been a mistake.
Over the years Fleet has been almost embarrassingly flattering about the Pru: 'The man from the Pru yesterday added his soothing voice to the oratorio of reassurance currently emanating from the life assurance industry.’ (20/9/74)
And again: ‘I have an idea, not fanciful, that the keys lies with the Prudential … if it did so the Pru would provide the leadership, vision and energy the composites as a class are lacking’. (All of this in an article allegedly about British Leyland, 16/7/78).
Fleet has certainly earned his money – said to be at least £20,000 – because shortly after joining the Sunday Express he was at it again, singing the praises of his favourite company. ‘If you are a company aspiring to to Stock Exchange status or newly-fledged as a quoted company and could choose just three shareholders, let me tell you who they should be. Firstly, the mighty Prudential Assurance. The Pru’s coffers are ever deepening, its conscience is tender and its word in the City is law. To have the Pru as a shareholder is a seal of approval.’ (12/8/79)
PS: Those readers already sickened by Fleet’s activities will shudder to realise that a second series will run from September to November.
20th June 1980
If there were stunned gasps throughout the nation that two of our leading soft-porn merchants had been included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List – ‘Sir’ Larry Lamb and Lord ‘Fingers’ – these were not reflected in the popular press.
The only paper to comment adversely on this day of shame was the Guardian, which dug up a 1977 Daily Getsworse leader which pontificated:
‘What is the point of honouring an outstanding citizen … if in the end he is to be put on the same list as a lot of time-serving political hacks, old mates of whoever happens to be Prime Minister and a retinue of comedians and actors … the only way of putting the system on a morally sound footing is to take it away from 10 Downing Street’.
They also found a 1978 leader in The Sun which said:
‘This paper has never had much time for the boring farce of buttons and bows and garters and knightly nonentities … If there have to be honours, let them go to the hundreds of deserving little men and little women. People who have never been nearer Number Ten than an No 10 bus.’
Fine words – and complete humbug. Matthews and Lamb take their line straight from Number Ten. That is why these two sleazy men now roost uneasily on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Ever since he bought Express Newspapers Matthews, has done everything possible to secure an honour. He will make his own papers stand on their heads just to please Mrs Thatcher.
On 31 May, after the Common Market deal, the Getsworse said: ‘The kind of provisional deal brought back by Lord Carrington and Peter Walker is worse than no deal at all … This is totally unacceptable.’
On 3 June this message was repeated in the same leader column: ‘Britain is still losing … the fight for a fair deal must go on … Britain is the net loser.’
Next day, after Mrs T had spoken to Matthews, a new view was printed: ‘She [Mrs Thatcher] has achieved a better deal for Britain than ever before. Certainly better than anything achieved by her Labour critics.’
There is also the Tory Employment Bill. Minister James Prior is pilloried in the Getsworse as ‘Pussyfoot Prior’ because of his relations with the unions. This is encouraged by Mrs Thatcher in her conversations with Matthews.
Matthews also creeps to the Royal Family. He kept on ludicrous Jocelyn Stevens for this reason – the then Mrs Stevens was a Lady-in-Waiting to Yvonne [Princess Margaret].
Once the absurd Sir Jonah Junor said in his Sunday Express column that Prince Philip should keep his nose out of public affairs. After a word from Fingers, Sir Jonah grovelled and printed an item praising the ignorant consort.
Lamb is just a political toady and not worth mentioning. But Fingers has been a Tory paymaster for years. He donates £20,000 of Trafalgar House gold each year to the Tories. He has also enlisted the financial assistance of other tycoons.
His Sunday Getsworse, under the doddering command of ageing sycophant Sir Jonah Junor, describes Mrs Thatcher as ‘the greatest peacetime Prime Minister’.
The Daily Getsworse takes much the same line, and even the Daily Smut – grudgingly allowed to support Labour after the last election, in the belief that this would boost circulation – is not allowed to attack Mrs Thatcher.
DRONE NOTE: Larry Lamb was then editor of The Sun and later took the helm at the Daily Express
4th July 1980
Massed ranks of hacks gathered at the Getsworse to debate their 40 per cent wage claim in the wake of their paper’s risible ‘Let’s All Work Harder’ campaign.
Up jumped Jimmy Murray, the Mussolini lookalike who writes TV paragraphs.
‘Would it not be a good idea,’ he cried, ‘to send a note of congratulations to Chairman Matthews on the occasion of his peerage?’
This produced a howl of laughter, much to Murray’s chagrin.
Then a loud voice (whose famous owner will not be identified if he sends Grovel a fiver) cried: ‘Why don’t we send him a bag of whelks?’
Collapse of meeting.
‘Sir’ Larry Lamb, editor of the Tit & Bum Sun newspaper, is as obsequious to his employer the Dirty Digger as he is to Mrs Thatcher.
I once witnessed a curious scene in a London restaurant. The Lambs were waiting nervously at a table.
Then the Digger entered the restaurant. When Lamb saw his boss hovering into view he seized a napkin and began to plush his shoes.
18th July 1980
Street of Shame
Every week a dapper, cigar-smoking figure enters Chateau Despair in Fleet Street and ascends to the third-floor office of Express chairman Lord Whelks.
He is Gordon Reece, Margaret Thatcher’s special PR man, the ‘image’ expert who advised her to lower her hair and her voice.
‘Eminence Reece’ gives Whelks what is called a 'special briefing' on events of the day.
What this means is he points out what Margaret Thatcher wishes the Getsworse to say.
Whelks digests this and afterwards instructs his ‘editor’ Arthur Firth and the two leader-writers – the tired Michael Harrington and Keith Raffan, a former Tory political candidate who once stripped off during a general election to become one of the Sun’s Daily Males.
‘Grease’ has also been lurking in Bouverie Street, home of The Sun and ‘Sir’ Larry Lamb – another of Mrs T’s sleazy new noblemen.
1st August 1980
Sir Jonah Junor tells me he had a hard time getting a peerage for Lord Whelks.
When he first put the name up to Sir Trevor Evans, who runs the Fleet Street honours-vetting committee, and it was forwarded to Mrs T, Maggie crossed the name off and replaced it with his own.
So Junor had to plead with Mrs T to get Whelks put on second.
The stringent economy drive at the Getsworse, announced by the playboy Piranha, has now spread to the private staff of Lord Whelks.
Seen in Fleet Street the other day: Whelk’s chauffeur sitting in the back of the Rolls-Royce Whelkmobile cleaning assorted pairs of his master’s shoes.
15th August 1980
I hear Trafalgar House shareholders are become restive at last over the absurd Fleet Street activities of Lord Whelks.
Not content with spending £100,000 in buying himself a Thatcher peerage, he is now dickering with Getsworse readers’ prizes.
The Getsworse spent £75,000 buying itself into the autumn Bob Hope golf match at Epsom.
Four tickets costing £2,500 each were set aside for lucky readers. These gave them a variety of delights at the Golforama. However, Getsworse Sports Editor Ken Lawrence made an embarrassing discovery the other day.
Whelks and his golf-mad son had hived off with two of them.
Pasty-faced old failure Charles Wintour addressed the Evening Standard staff last week on the subject of his paper’s ruin.
More than 20 hacks would have to go, expenses would have to be slashed, and the midday edition would no longer be published.
Then Charlie got aboard a jet for New York. Where, it so happened, his flame-haired temptress Audrey [Slaughter] was holidaying.
Charlie’s ludicrous reason for the company freebie: to watch breakfast television. No-one thought of the cheaper method – watching the programmes on the video cassettes which are freely available.
26th September 1980
There has been a new outbreak of impostorism in Fleet Street.
A former actor called Peter Tory has spent the last two weeks touring Perthshire in a borrowed British Leyland 3.5 Rover, freeloading at several fishing hotels under the name ‘William Hickey’. Tory took the precaution of writing to the Highland hoteliers on Daily Getsworse headed notepaper, outlining his plans for featuring their establishments at the earliest opportunity in the paper. Many an otherwise canny Scottish landlord was taken in by his smooth promises. Shame on ye, Tory!
Sir Jonah Junor, elderly melodeon-playing editor of the Sunday Express and trenchant Eye columnist, has set his bonnet at a dazzling new doxie: Princess Michael of Kent, poor old Tom Troubridge’s wife, who pressured the last Pope to annul her marriage on laughably specious terms.
This unlikely pair were introduced by the doyenne of gossip hacks, Lady Olga Maitland, who shrills: ‘Don’t ask me anything about the Beast darling! It just gets me into wretched trouble.’
Is this why Sir Jonah’s Sunday Express column is now a stalwart ally of the Roman Catholic church?
I think we should be told.
24th October 1980
I congratulate the fragrant hackette Lady Olga Maitland. She is pregnant again with her third child.
Thinking the news would please her curmudgeonly old employer melodeon-playing Sunday Express editor Sir Jonah Junor she ran in excitedly with the tidings.
‘Get away with ye lassie,’ cried Lord Whelk’s Highland factotum, ‘you’re far too old for sex.’
Lady Olga is 23. [Drone note: She was actually 36 at the time.]
7th November 1980
Auberon Waugh’s Diary
To the Black Lubyanka in Fleet Street, where Lord Thingers Maffews has organised a small lunch party to mark my departure from Express Newspapers at the end of the year after nine years of faithful service. He has asked the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Runcie, Sir Ian Moncrieffe of that Ilk, Sir John Junor (of some other ilk), Sir Melvyn Barg, delicious 23-year-old Lady Olga Maitland, mouth-watering Prue Leith and a bevy of beautiful women including Edna Healy, no less.
I must say, Lord Maffews is a jolly good host. He doesn’t like the look of our escalope de veau à la crême so has a special dish brought to him, no doubt containing jellied eels, stewed whelks, parsnips, tripe ’n’ elephant pie and other homely delicacies. He says how much he enjoys nearly everything I and other members of my family have ever written, and how sad he is that his own humble class origins make it impossible for me to go on working with him.
The other great sadness is that the lovely Lady Maffews is Not Ible to be Wiv Us. If I fought there was any estrangement between them I might have to sell the story to my old friend Peter Tory, whose excellent William Hickey column in the Daily Express is the only thing worth reading in that doomed newspaper.
[Drone note: Waugh was a columnist and book reviewer for the Evening Standard]
21st November 1980
Yet further news of appalling behaviour by hacks from Fingers’ tit ’n’ bum organ has emerged.
After her trial the Star approached Streatham madame Cynthia Payne and offered her £4,000 for the exclusive rights to her story. Mrs Payne was encouraged to tell all to a sympathetic reporter. But she did not receive any form of written contract.
Consequently, when she told the Smut hacks all she knew, she was in no position to demand her fee.
At first the Smut refused to pay her anything; but it now seems likely she will be paid £1,000.
19th December 1980
Auberon Waugh’s Diary
As my time to leave the Standard draws near after seven years as its fiction reviewer I wish some kind person would buy the paper from its present owner, Elephant Man lookalike ‘Lord’ Maffews (as my friend William Hickey wittily describes him). Such a philanthropist could send this whelk-guzzling oaf back to Bermondsey, reinstate Sir Charles Wintour as editor and let me resume my novel reviewing.