15th January 1982
Auberon Waugh’s Diary
Jocelyn Stevens is holidaying in Gstaad [following his sacking from the Express] with his girlfriend, the moustachioed hell-cat Vivien Clore, 66. From there he announces that he is trying to catch up with his reading: ‘I want to rejoin the human race,’ he says.
This seems to me a great mistake. The human race has taken some bad knocks recently, and I think it is time it was given a rest. In Jocelyn’s case it would involve endless, painful surgery to no very useful end: his tail would have to be cut off, his nails trimmed, his poisonous fangs would have to be filed down. He says he has ambitions to be involved in television, but if he is not careful he will spoil his chances of an appearance in David Attenborough’s brilliant Life On Earth series.
29th January 1982
Auberon Waugh’s Diary
One million five hundred and eight thousand and forty six morons now buy the Daily Star. Perhaps nearly half that number even ‘read’ some of it. It has a higher proportion of young ‘readers’ than any other newspaper except, I suppose, Beano.
The good news is that it is losing buckets of money. Lord Maffews has to scatter millions and millions of pounds of bingo money among its ignorant yobbo ‘readership’ before they will consent to take it to their sheds at the end of the garden.
The bad news is that all the newspapers face ruin as a result of this half-witted competition for ‘readers’. If the leadership of the National Union of Journalists were more than a collection of creepy lower-class power maniacs and left-wing fanatics – it would organise nationwide pressure to stop any newspapers offering any prizes whatever to its loathsome ‘readers’. They have done nothing whatever to deserve it. Then journalists might be able to undertake urgently needed refurbishment of their stately homes, repair their works of art etc.
12th March 1982
Auberon Waugh’s Diary
A curious article in today’s William Hickey column criticises Lord Gnome for spending only £15,000 on Private Eye’s 21st birthday party later this year. It was put there by the Daily Express’s incredibly greedy Assistant Editor, Peter McHackie.
What Hackie does not reveal is that the party is being organised by delicious sloe-eyed 22-year-old Helen McKay, 36-22-36, who in addition to her important executive role as Lord Gnome’s social secretary has the doubtful distinction of being McHackie’s wife.
Dare we suppose there is some rift in the relationship between this demented hack and his lovely wife? There would be no shortage of handsome, wealthy and distinguished Englishmen eager to move in. Watch this space.
26th March 1982
Street of Shame
New executive appointments.
Newly-promoted, thrusting and dynamic Nick Lloyd, new editor of the Sunday people, has just promoted dynamic and thrusting Eve Pollard as senior assistant editor.
She is Mrs Nick Lloyd.
9th April 1982
The loutish behaviour of Lord Matthews at Cheltenham, where the Daily Express sponsored a hurdle race, has sent the Royal Family to statute books to ascertain under what grounds Whelks can have his title rescinded.
Trouble started when the Queen Mother learned that Whelks had been invited to lunch by the Cheltenham executive, an automatic occurrence for big race sponsors. As guest-of-honour the QM was shown the list and promptly told Cheltenham chairman Captain Miles Gosling that under no circumstances was Whelks to be allowed in.
Word was duly passed to Whelks that not only the QM but Charles and Diana, who would also be attending the races that day, did not want to see one hair of his Brylcreemed head following the disgraceful peeping tom activities in the Bahamas of two Whelks employees from the Daily Star – which was then censored by the Press Council for ‘gross intrusion into the privacy of the Princess of Wales’.
Imagine the fury of the royal trio when Whelks, bold as brass, invaded the Royal Box after lunch. The Getsworse reported the next day that he had watched the first race with the Queen Mother at her invitation.
As a consolation, the Queen Mother has been able to chortle over Whelks’ discomfiture following the purchase of a useless racehorse for a sum not unadjacent to £55,000. The animal finished stone last at Aintree in a big race last Saturday, Grand National Day.
Whelks, who likes to describe himself as a racehorse owner, wanted to buy a nag which would win the Express race at Cheltenham. He instructed O’Sullevan of BBC TV and Getsworse fame to find a suitable candidate. In the event O’Sullevan approached Irish coper Mick O’Toole who had been trying to flog a four-year-old called Morton, owned by his family, since Christmas – the asking price in Ireland had been in the region of £15,000.
By the time the O’Tooles ‘reluctantly’ parted with Morton the price had risen rather steeply to £55,000.
Oh yes – it also finished nowhere in the Express race.
23rd April 1982
Street of Shame
Daily Mail editor-in-chief David English is said by colleagues to be cast in the deepest gloom. For why? Because he thinks the Mail on Sunday, due to arrive on May 2, could be a disaster.
Privately, English believes it was a mistake to hire Bernard Shrimsley, and then hire his brother, Tony of Talbot fame, as associate editor.
The Mail on Sunday’s cast list is not inspiring and contains not one name that makes the Daily Mail popular.
Ex-pimp Willy Donaldson is their gossip columnist and the racing man, Ivor Herbert, has gone against the normal sabbath practice by saying he will not be working on Saturdays.
But it is The Brothers Shrim, as they are known who are causing disquiet.
Nepotism is in fact enjoying a revival in Fleet Street. Over at the Sunday People hacks assembling for editorial conference have a charming mother-and-child photo gazing down at them from the wall above the editor’s head.
It is of assistant editor Eve Pollard. Below sits her husband - editor Nick Lloyd.
Following the Grovel exclusive that the Queen Mother had banned him from her Cheltenham lunch, Lord Matthews has claimed to the Sunday Mirror that this was not so. He “spent a jovial hour”, he says, with the old lady.
Such claims are as specious as the original Daily Getsmuchworse report that Whelks had watched the racing with the Queen Mother at her special invitation.
The facts are that Whelks was told by Cheltenham chairman Captain Miles Gosling that he was unwelcome and could no longer consider himself invited to the luncheon (for about 40 people).
Imagine the horror of all concerned – including Charles and Diana, who had taken a dim view of the Whelks hacks invading their Bahamas privacy – when “Lord” Matthews arrived in the Royal Box as bold as brass.
In the face of open hostility, he quickly made his excuses and left but did loiter awhile hoping for absolution royal. In vain.
21st May 1982
Auberon Waugh’s Diary
When the newspapers are brought to me freshly ironed and laundered, I am amazed to discover that the doomed new Mail on Sunday has run to a third number.
I assumed that after the Shrimsley brothers’ appalling first effort, everybody would realise it had been a great mistake. Mr Bernard (“Slimy”) Shrimsley – the man who lost a million readers from the News of the World – had the brainwave of publishing the lesbian confessions of Billie Jean King; while the “exclusive” with the son of the Shah of Persia was exactly the sort of scoop that sunk NOW! magazine under the editorship of his little brother Tony (“Toady”) Shrimsley.
I think they should be more adventurous. How about: I married a pooftah by Nancy Kissinger; My Solution to the Falklands Crisis by Bruce Forsyth; or Coping with the Curse by Desmond Wilcox?
18th June 1982
As summer gets into full bloom Grovel’s thoughts turn to dreams of a lengthy sabbatical.
In fact, there will soon be no competition among the tawdry gossip columns of Fleet Street. Alarmingly, I hear that Atticus of the Sunday Times is being axed; the final demise of William Hickey has been discussed at recent Daily Getsevenworse editorial meetings and the devious Charlie Douglas-Home is about to send his PHS column to the obituary department.
Soon the only tattlers will be the wondrous Lady Olga and the immortal Jennifer (aka Mme Betty Kenward) of Harpers and Queen.
Is life worth living on these terms?
2nd July 1982
Street of Shame
That doyen of City hacks Patrick Sergeant has headed off an attempted takeover bid by his music-and-money-loving rival Kenneth Fleet.
It appears that the ever ambitious “Man from the Pru” was offered a substantial sum – £30,000 minimum – to become Daily Mail City editor and was mightily attracted by the thought of leaving his comfortable backwater at the Sunday Express.
This proposed move followed Sergeant’s failure to garner the Mail on Sunday post which would have left him with even more time for his money-making activities – £260,000 last year – on Euromoney and elsewhere.
However, Fleet’s ardour reportedly cooled when the silver-haired scribe indicated that he would still be very much in charge of the Mail City Page although the “Man form the Pru” would have to take care of business every day.
Seeing the honeyed trap ready to spring, Fleet made his excuses – demands for loyalty from his employer Lord “Whelks” – and left.
30th July 1982
Flying crockery broke the tranquility of the press cafeteria of the Commons when two hacks from rival papers decided to discuss the latest break-in at Buckingham Palace.
Smoothie Keith Raffan of the Daily Express and the greasy-haired Edward Pearce of the Daily Telegraph surprised fellow journalists by the heated discussion.
It all started when Pearce, a devoted republican, referred to Her Majesty as “that German woman” and accused Raffan of writing for a “common paper”.
When Raffan was told by Pearce to “step into a hole” the witty Expressman replied that such a thing was impossible because Pearce was already in one.
Aware that Pearce was about to get into one of his exhibitionist rages which entertain Westminster journalists from time to time, Mr Raffan decided to exit stage right.
Pearce then picked up a cup and saucer and threw it at Raffan as he left the room. Having been told by an indignant canteen assistant to pick up the broken pieces of the Commons German-made crockery, Pearce left the room fuming and determined to get his own back on the Express smoothie.
24th September 1982
Not since the dawn of time has a meeting of two men been invested with so much importance.
I refer to the secret luncheon tryst this week in the Ritz between Press mogul Lord Whelks and Nigel Dempster, the Greatest Living Englishman.
His Lordship has formally reached the conclusion that most Press overlords have found irresistible: no newspaper today is complete without Nigel Dempster. So he is prepared to pay handsomely for the sleek gossip hound’s service.
And Dempster? He seeks a solution in his favour to the great Jocelyn/Daily Express/Dempster libel action, which arose out of a “review” of the great man’s Princess Margaret book by the former in the Express.
Grovel will have a full, exclusive report of the summit at the Ritz in the next issue.
8th October 1982
I promised a full account of the important Ritz luncheon between Lord Whelks and Greatest Living Englishman Nigel Dempster.
This has had to be held over by a most sensational development which might be reported in the next issue.
A clue to its nature will already have been heard by listeners to the weekend radio “News Quiz” on which Dempster was introduced as the “editor-elect” of the Daily Express.
Was this a joke? Watch this space.
22nd October 1982
Auberon Waugh’s Diary
A gloomy luncheon with ‘Lord’ Maffews of Kilimanjaro, the elephant-like chairman of Express Newspapers, in the Ritz. He also owns the Ritz and tells me proudly how he made the staff scrub the dining room with Brillo pads. He really is rather an appalling person.
I accepted his invitation only because I thought he might want to give me some money. Instead of which, Elephant Bill, as my friend George Gale wittily calls him, wants me to give him some free advice on how to run Express Newspapers. They keep losing money, he tells me between sobs.
I tell him if he really wants to make a ‘go’ of his clapped-out newspapers, he should appoint the incredibly-gifted Shrimsley Brothers – Bernardo and Antonio – as joint editors of the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Daily Star. He should employ Norah Beloff as his political editor and Agony Auntie; and he should buy the services of handsome, fearless Jon Pilger at about £1million a week as his expert on the slave trade in the Far East.
But why should I help the old brute? If he does not know how to run a newspaper he should stick to other forms of ‘business’.
*Drone note: Waugh made much of his column up in the name of satire without straying from his Somerset home Combe Florey. It should not be read as fact.
5th November 1982
Street of Shame
Pressured mercilessly by ‘editor-in-chief’ Sir David English, the weak tax exile Viscount Rothermere finally succumbed this week and agreed to install English acolyte Stewart Steven as Editor of the disastrous £22million (so far only 20 issues) Mail on Sunday.
The appointment bodes ill for shareholders in Associated Newspapers who have already seen their capital decline because of Rothermere’s messianic urge to become the new overlord of Fleet Street.
Steven it was who set the Daily Express (sales now below two million for the first time in 20 years) in decline when he was Associate Editor, by revealing that innocent South American teacher Rudolfo Siri was, in fact, Martin Bormann who had perished 30 years earlier.
Within days of the Express publishing this fable with photograph of Bormann/Siri, Steven had joined the Mail where his old and faithful friend David English presides (he moved to Associated Newspapers from the Express in 1969.)
Not content with putting the skids under the Express, Steven proceeded to destroy the Mail by being the executive responsible for ‘researching’ the British Leyland scandal letters. Any child of 10 would have seen they were crude forgeries, but Steven went ahead and printed the substance as a worldwide scoop. Total payments in libel costs and damages – in excess of £300,000.
Worse, if possible, was to come. Left on his own one night as Editor, he was sweet-talked into splashing some hokum about adventurers finally locating the fabled Valley of Eldorado in South America. That gaffe lasted, mercifully, for only one edition when English happened to pop in late at night see that corny old chestnut had been swallowed hook, line and sinker by his deputy.
*Drone note: Steven, a popular figure in Fleet Street, was in fact a very successful editor of the Mail on Sunday. He died in 2004 aged 68.
An unhappy rift has developed between Getsworse columnist and leader writer George G. Ale and his proprietor Lord Whelks. The dispute arose over a leader Ale was composing on the last day of the Tory conference when, to his surprise, he was interrupted by a call from Lord Whelks who was taking a tea-break on the golf course. Whelks confided that the paper’s Northern editor had told him that Getsworse sales were falling in the North because the paper didn’t care enough about unemployment. From now on, said Whelks, the paper was to ‘care’.
Furious, Ale, who had written the usual stuff about how magnificent Maggie is and how unemployment hasn’t dented her image one jot, refused to write another word. In spirited defence of editorial freedom, feeble Getsworse editor Christopher Ward promptly got another hack, Leith McGrandle, to take the Whelks line.
Ale promptly resigned as leader writer (though this courageous act won’t affect his job or salary), leaving Ward to search among wretched Getsworse hacks for a cringing replacement.
5th November 1982
Seeking sponsors to be added to the Conservative Party Candidates List, Fleet Street hackette Lady Olga Maitland called Industry Minister Norman Lamont, 40. At first the diminutive MP for Kingston-upon-Thames professed never to have heard of Lady Olga but eventually agreed to a luncheon.
Matters have moved at a heady pace since. The other evening a dishevelled Lamont appeared uninvited at Lady Olga’s Islington home and demanded entry. The doyenne’s barrister husband Robin Hay was away on circuit.
So tired and emotional was Lamont that he had to spend the night on the sofa.
Shrills the doyenne: ‘If that’s what goes on in government, I’m not sure I want to join!’
19th November 1982
Street of Shame
Scotland Yard are contemplating charges against Lord Whelks’ rag, the Daily Star, for wasting police time, following their exhaustive inquiries into the mystery woman in black who appeared at the funeral of Graham Sturley – the Biggin Hill property developer in the Avon Lady death shock horror.
The so-called mystery woman, who intrigued the police as well as Fleet Street, was shrouded in black and wore a veil when she carefully placed a dozen red roses on Sturley’s grave with a card saying: ‘Goodbye XXX’.
But she disappeared before anyone could question her. The next day all Fleet Street newspapers – except the Star – carried stories speculating on her identity and relations with either Sturley or his late wife Linda.
Scotland Yard has now discovered that the woman was an ‘actress’ friend of Brian Hitchen, the London Editor of the Star, who engaged her services for the stunt.
‘Benito’ Hitchen, who is as bald as a billiard ball and about as attractive, also instructed Star photographer Frank Barrett to stand by at the funeral for the arrival of the mystery lady. But in the event the nauseous Star got cold feet.
A mole in Lord Whelks’ Star HQ in Manchester is said to have informed the boss of this new low in popular journalism and an in-house investigation is proceeding apace.
Before joining the world’s worst newspaper (rumoured to be facing closure by Whelks in the New Year) Hitchen worked for Lord Jams at the ill-fatedTalbot! On the inevitable demise of that magazine he was observed to be carting off three golf-ball typewriters – no doubt his personal property.
Not content with his journalistic activities ‘Benito’, who in his spare time shoots seagulls with a catapult, is reputed to have a shop in the Brighton area which deals in things like office equipment.
Deterred by the presence of his Mail arch-rival Patrick Sergeant and the pressures of his proprietor Lord ‘Whelks’, Kenneth Fleet switched his empire-building to within Express Newspapers. As the price for staying ‘loyal’ Fleet got himself installed as effective City Editor of both the Sunday and Daily Express.
This move did not meet with a rapturous reception from the Daily’s somnambulant incumbent Roy Assersohn. So much so, indeed, that he is said to have interpreted it as constructive dismissal. Now Assersohn’s name no longer appears and negotiations are going on regarding the terms of divorce which could involve figures reaching as high as £100,000 if Assersohn has his way.
2nd December 1982
Letter to the Editor
Mr Lamont & Lady Olga
We have been consulted by Mr Norman Lamont, MP in connection with references to him in the second story under the Grovel column in the current edition of Private Eye. We have also seen Lady Olga Maitland.
The clear meaning of the reference is that our client was drunk, that, although uninvited, he insisted on being admitted to the home of Lady Olga Maitland and that he spent the night there.
We are instructed that these allegations are wholly untrue. We have advised our client that they are seriously defamatory of him and that he is entitled to substantial damages for injury to his reputation. We understand that this is not the first time that our client has had cause to complain about references to him in Private Eye and that on a previous occasion a claim brought on his behalf was settled on terms which included the payment to him of agreed damages.
The publication of which our client now complains is likely to injure his reputation. His immediate concern, therefore, is to have the record put straight. To this end we are instructed to say that, provided an apology in the terms enclosed with this letter is published in the next edition of Private Eye, without editorial comment and prominence to be agreed with us, and provided that out client is indemnified in respect of his legal costs, he is prepared to let the matter rest on this occasion. In the meantime our client’s rights are reserved.
We look forward to hearing from you immediately as it is essential, if the matter is to be disposed of in the manner suggested in this letter, that it be dealt with promptly.
LOVELL, WHITE & KING
21 Holborn Viaduct, London EC1