25th January 1985
Street of Shame
With the forthcoming departure of News of the World editor Nick Lloyd to America on a Harvard business course, the offices of the News of the World/Sun have become a veritable bloodbath.
In just a few weeks the editor of the Sun, Kelvin MacKenzie, has made three pleas to Lloyd to stop NoW staff monstering him in Fleet Street pubs. And his brother Craig, NoW features editor, went whimpering to Lloyd after receiving a full-frontal right hook from Royal hackette, Roedean-educated Fiona McDonald- “Bruiser” Hull.
It has almost become a NoW sport to have a go at the Mackenzies but over the space of four weeks the assistant editor of NoW David Montgomery – whom Lloyd has recommended should take over as editor when he leaves – turned up at the offices three times with a bloodied and scarred nose.
On the first occasion his scar, he said, was caused when he was chundering into the toilet bowl after eating a poisoned fish finger. The lift-up seat, he claimed, fell back on his nose.
On the second occasion, he claimed, he was mugged outside Vagabonds, the drinking club in New Fetter Lane.
And on the third occasion, he says he walked into a car door.
But jilted hackette MacHull, who has taken to calling him at all times of the night shouting “wanker” and replacing the receiver, has cast doubt on all these excuses. “Liar,” she claimed, “he smashed his nose when he fell out of my bed and hit the bedside table.”
MacHull's anger is also directed at Montgomery’s long-term obsession, the sultry freelance Sharon Feinstein. She and other jealous hacks are disgusted at Feinstein's regular appearances reclining on Montgomery's desk. They cried into their gins when a deputation from the Sunday People, who were glad to see the back of Montgomery, reported that in the last six months that he was there Feinstein earned £37,000.
Feinstein has now been sent to Rio on a working holiday courtesy of Rommel, but in the meantime she has seduced him into hiring Larry Lever, the wimpish son of Lord Lever.
Feinstein signed an NUJ proposal for Lever who can now be seen hanging around the NoW newsroom. One of his first assignments was to do a consumer test on Christmas hampers. Articled clerk Lever, who has never worked for a newspaper before, duly acquired a whole range of hampers and collected a fee of £1,000 from Montgomery for his trouble. His survey never saw the light of day, nor did the hampers.
Meanwhile another of Montgomery's flames, the ubiquitous Nina “Wally of the Week” Myskov (also brought from the Sunday People) has been demanding the assistant editor's attention. After throwing a tantrum at the office Christmas party, locking herself in the ladies loo for most of the night, Rommel duly sent her to recuperate at Champneys health farm for two weeks – courtesy of Rupert Murdoch.
The thoughts of Rommel taking over the editorship of the NoW has been treated with some mirth, but not so by Craig Mackenzie who has been heard ringing his third brother in New York looking for work: “I'll take anything,” he begs.
8th March 1985
Street of Shame
What has happened to John McVicar – reformed crook and until recently the Daily Getworse’s underworld crime correspondent?
Could his absence from the paper’s pages have anything to do with his last “exclusive” dispatch from Spain’s Costa Del Crime where he allegedly interviewed two much-wanted men who had escaped from Harrow police station last October?
McVicar was commissioned by the Excess to root out the fugitives after Scotland Yard received a postcard from the men – complete with thumbprints – which had apparently been posted from Fuengirola. On 5 December the Excess carried a vivid account of McVicar’s “secret” meeting with Chris Hague and Marek Raczynski at their hideout where he had been “hooded” by an unidentified middle man. With Hague doing most of the talking, McVicar reveals that their escape was made possible by a £2,000 bribe detectives at the station.
A few weeks later, however, the wanted men were found and arrested by police at a house in Langley, Bucks. According to neighbours they had been living there for at least two months and had been running a second-hand car business.
Since then several people have been charged with harbouring the two fugitives between October 1984 and 14 January when they were arrested in Langley.
Express editor “Sir” Larold Lamb immediately summoned McVicar to his office where he was asked to explain how he could have interviewed Hague and Kaczynski in Spain when they were apparently living it up in good old England.
22nd March 1985
There is turmoil and confusion in the turbulent world of the Fleet Street diaries. Never before have so many newly-vacated chairs become empty with ambitious hacks lining up to scramble into them.
First to be dislodged from his niche was dapper, bow-tied Keith Wheatley, editor of the Standard’s “Londoners Diary”, who has taken the eccentric decision to go to Australia and write a best-seller. Yacht-loving Wheatley will leave next month unless an irresistible offer persuades him to stay. Hotly tipped as his successor is the famous “Rigid Man” Geoffrey Wheatcroft, whom the dreary “Lou” Kirby is keen to have aboard.
But although the Rigid Man is keen to take the job (owing to a current shortage of funds), his friends feel he is simply not up to the demanding hours – especially its 7am start and rigorous post-luncheon duties. Also tipped for Wheatley’s job is wee, gorgeous, pouting Angela Gordon, currently PHS on The Times, who is understood to have a tempestuous working relationship with the shortly-departing deputy editor Charlie “McNasty” Wilson.
Meanwhile at the Getsworse there was an unpleasant shock in store for exquisitely-coiffured Chris Wilson, who was interviewed last week by Sir Larold Lamb and brutally removed from his post. Wilson was seen consoling himself amid emotional scenes at El Vino’s. His humiliation was increased by Sir Larold’s choice of a successor, none other than the ludicrous Richard “Daisy” Compton Miller, enthusiastic bachelor and notorious freeloader.
“Daisy” has been made redundant from no less than three Fleet Street papers, including the Mail where he was sacked for fiddling his expenses (he altered a bill written in black biro by inserting a figure in red ink). Wearing a fetching kaftan, Daisy likes to give elegant dinner parties at his bijou Fulham residence for “sads” and hairdressers. He has already instructed his staff about his plans for the column – “less unkindness, more froth” – although this is a wasted effort as most of them are trying desperately to find alternative employment.
Airplane loving Peter Tory, the deeply-relaxed Daily Mirror diarist, is at present in temporary retirement in the Cotswolds, having been invited to leave by his proprietor, who wants to make the Mirror diary a “talking point”. Tory has taken the downward plunge to the Daily Star (he is a close friend of its completely-unknown editor, and plans to re-emerge in mid-April in a blaze of publicity and TV advertising.
Meanwhile the Bouncing Czech [Mirror owner Robert Maxwell] is making earnest attempts to entice the Greatest Living Englishman, Nigel Dempster, away from the Daily Mail. He is fond of embracing the GLE and shouting “I want to make you a millionaire too, Nigel!” Dempster is believed to have sent his team of negotiators to Maxwell House, with instructions to return with a six-figure cheque.
19th April 1985
I am sorry to hear than an unpleasantness had already marred the short career of William Hickey – newly-appointed youthful bachelor Richard Compton Miller. “Daisy” has been involved in an unhappy dispute with Sir Larold Lamb, who made the unsympathetic request that he should work on Sundays.
This suggestion has horrified the fun-loving bachelor (salary £35,000).
“Doesn’t everyone go away at weekends?” he wailed to his stoney-hearted employer, who is now re-examining his contract.
17th May 1985
Street of Shame
Morale has sunk to new depths at the Getsworse following the publication of Sir Larold Lamb’s “hit-list”, a document sent to all sections of the paper demanding staff reductions either by early retirement or “voluntary” redundancies. Sir Larold is hardly ever seen at the Black Lubyanka these days and his place has been taken by the newly-appointed Executive Editor, the creepy Robin Esser, previously employed in the lowly role of supervising the Getsworse Saturday pages, and universally regarded as Yesterday’s Man. His sudden elevation means that he has now abandoned the office he shared with the compulsive whistler Bernard “Slimy” Shrimsley and has been assigned his own personal suite.
Esser is the only man on an increasingly unhappy ship. Deputy editor Phil Walker recently left to take the Maxwell shilling, and over-the-hill news editor Jack Crossley was offered a similar deal, but wisely turned it down.
Gorgeous pouting hackette Dee Nolan is transferring to Captain Bob’s staff this week after an embarrassingly short spell on the women’s pages. The luscious Nolan was hired at great expense from Woman’s Own to add some glamour to the Getsworse’s seedy image, but developed a personality clash with the women’s editor Kate Hadley, and left after six tempestuous weeks.
Meanwhile all is not going well for the new William Hickey, the bouffant-haired Richard “Daisy” Compton-Miller. Daisy was so upset by threats of mutiny by his vicious and jaded staff that he has had to take a two-week holiday to recover.
31st May 1985
Street of Shame
Baffled hacks on the tatty Daily Star have just received a highly-excited memo from the editor, Lloyd Turner, congratulating them on rising circulation figures and “one helluva good product”.
“What an exciting time it is,” the editor – an Oriel graduate – writes, urging staff to deliver more ideas. “Keep them rolling in – the bigger and bolder the better.” Particularly in need of ideas, it emerges, is the paper’s new diarist, Peter Tory – “We need to give him ideas, stories, tips to work on.”
Getting carried away with excitement, Turner defines the essence of the Star for the benefit of his staff. “We walk straight down the middle of the footpath of the streets of Britain with our heads held high. As we walk down that street we are not in the gutter with The Sun, nor are we wandering aimlessly inside the shops, or some maze with the Mirror. We are walking straight down the middle between the two … taking a very close look at what is happening in the gutter and perhaps putting a foot in it from time to time.”
After pages pf the same crazed, incoherent ramble, Turner winds up with an impassioned plea to his staff create an angry, caring controversial paper. “We care about our people very deeply. We care most of all for children – the innocent little ones who need us. We love life … we laugh at the pompous, the arrogant. We give our readers a reason to walk down those streets with smiles on their faces. Remember, every page of the Daily Star belongs to you.”
14th June 1985
A worrying story of vanity reaches me. It seems that figure-conscious diarist Nigel Dempster is taking competition from across the street far too seriously. If this were not so why would he be writing to Sir Larold Lamb about his rival, Richard Compton Miller, the diarist he dubs Daisy.
In his most recent missive poor Humpty Dumpster, now balding and unhappy with his old friends, complains that Miller is affecting the circulation of the Daily Express so badly that readers should get a 20p rebate. This is not the first of such whining letters.
It is believed that Dumpster has for many years been tormented with jealousy by Miller’s looks and easy savour faire.
28th June 1985
Grovel is in need of a holiday. His esteem for Daisy Compton Miller, aka William Hickey, is not shared by Daisy’s colleagues here.
Apart from failing to come up with one decent story since he took over Hickey, and filling the column with pathetic Sloanespeak, you may like to know that on more than one occasion his by-line has been taken off the column because, although present in the office, he had no part in writing it.
It his generally thought that his William Hickey is the worst since that of Peter Drake, a hack who was found one day outside the Editor’s office, sobbing and pleading to be released from his torture. Perhaps Daisy could follow suit.
Fleet Street, London
20th September 1985
Sir David Fester, middle-aged editor of the Daily Mail, is determined not to be caught napping by the arrival of the Daily Shah [Today newspaper] .
“Sir” David has announced his attention to take six weeks leave prior to the Shah launch to get himself in trim.
The leave could take the form of a six-week-long skiing holiday.
Another Fleet Street editor, Sir “Larold” Larry Lamb, is also finding life more and more of a strain.
Staff report that he looks increasingly tired at night time and that he often has to be coaxed from his office to oversee the final stages of the going-to-press process.
4th October 1985
Former Greatest Living Englishman Nigel Dempster threw a fit when he read a story in the ever-delightful Lady Olga Maitland’s column in the Sunday Express on September 22.
For Lady Olga reported that Lady Sarah Armstrong Jones was about to move into a £300,000 house in Kensington directly opposite the balding Dumpster.
A furious ex-GLE rang the Sunday Express and blasted off for several minutes about this disgraceful intrusion into his affairs.
He then sat down and penned a grovelling letter to Lady Sarah, assuring her that at all times he would respect her privacy – adding that in any case he would be shortly moving to an even grander residence in Richmond, adjacent to his close personal friend Lady Anabel Goldsmith, scrawny, neglected wife of Sir Jams (105).
18th October 1985
Street of Shame
Two former Getsworse hacks have been publicly humiliated in the High Court by their own seedy organ. They are Peter Batt and Norman Giller, once humble sports reporters, who combined to write a “biography” of the world’s most popular boxer, Barry McGuigan.
Express Newspapers celebrated the book’s publication by running a review on the Getsworse sports page by John Morgan which showered incoherent praise on the duo – “a beautifully written book by two master wordsmiths” – and on the very same day going to court to get an injunction to demand the book’s withdrawal.
What was the reason for this curious lapse? Unfortunately Batt, former Chief Sports Reporter on the Star, had composed most of his book from the newspaper’s ongoing McGuigan saga which he had set up himself while still on the payroll of Lord Whelks.
As soon as the Irish featherweight shot to fame, the Star promptly bought him up on a year’s contract worth £1,000 a week. A team of Star hacks were dispatched to McGuigan’s home and every word the boxer uttered duly appeared in the paper in endless exclusive features.
Since the Star had McGuigan sewn up, it was completely impossible for any other hacks to exchange words with him. Faced with this problem, Batt and Giller imaginatively decided to compose their “biography” from Star cuttings. At first they went to some lengths to alter some of the newspaper copy, adding touches of originality.
But, as the book progressed, they became exhausted by this inventiveness and simply lifted chunks of articles word for word. As a result Express Newspapers successfully had the book withdrawn by its publishers Century Hutchinson, who have been forced to pulp 10,000 copies. Batt and Giller have been told to hand back their advance and meet printing, distribution and legal costs of £50,000.
The Star, meanwhile, has handed over £30,000 to McGuigan for the “authorised” version of his biography, ghosted by an American hack. The indignant Batt and Giller have won sympathy from former colleagues on the Star, but little understanding from its obscure editor Lloyd Turner, who was heard to remark “I’ve got the bastards by the bollocks” when he got the injunction.
After Grovel’s report that he had written a grovelling letter to Lady Sarah Armstrong Jones (assuring her absolute privacy when she moved into a £300,000 house in Kensington opposite his own), Dumpster penned a furious note to Sir Jonah Junor, editor of the Sunday Express, demanding he sack baby-faced diarist Mike “It’s a Cert” Shanahan for allegedly leaking the story to Private Eye.
I hear a cruel joke about Sir Larold “Larry” Lamb, who recently fell victim to the Curse of Gnome and was taken to hospital.
At the Black Lubyanka they are saying that Sir Larold had a nine-hour heart operation – eight hours being spent by the surgeon looking for his heart.
1st November 1985
Street of Shame
In our last issue a story appeared describing Express Newspapers’ successful injunction against a biography of boxer Barry McGuigan written by Peter Batt and Norman Giller. All copies of the book were withdrawn because it contained substantial chunks of Daily Star copyright material.
Since this story appeared Mr Norman Giller (a former Getsworse sports hack) has contacted the Eye through his solicitors. Mr Giller wishes to point out that it was his co-writer Mr Peter Batt (former Star chief sports writer) who in fact ripped off the Star’s “exclusive” McGuigan material and that the High Court proceedings were against him. Mr Giller wishes to make it clear he only wrote half the book; and that – unlike his co-writer – his half does not contain anyone else's ripped-off material.
We are happy to make it clear that Mr Giller’s contribution to the book – now sadly pulped by Century Hutchinson – was entirely his own work.
1st November 1985
Express Newspapers’ new boss David Robert Stevens insists that he is married to Melissa, “Countess Andrasy”.
His personal entry in Who’s Who includes this assertion and it has been naturally accepted without question in Fleet Street.
Andrassy is said to be an aristocratic Hungarian family, although students of the Hapsburg empire have yet to trace it. Maybe they were not looking in the right place.
David and Melissa were married in the register office of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea on November 18, 1977. Stevens, then 41 and “previous marriage dissolved”, stated that he was an investment banker. His bride, a year older but also marriage dissolved, made no mention of being a countess on the certificate.
She is logged as Melissa Sadoff, writer and daughter of (New York) hotelier Milicevic.
A fiver for any further details.
The Greatest Living Englishman [Nigel Dempster] has boobed again. Last Tuesday he called upon David Stevens, new boss of the Daily Getsworse, to sack his witty diarist Richard “Daisy” Compton Miller.
The former GLE accused Daisy of the “ultimate incompetence” of getting the date of his namesake William Hickey wrong. Everyone knows, said Dempster, that Hickey died in 1875. Or, in other words, aged 126.
For, alas, the great Irish man of letters was born in 1749 and died, as lively columnist Compton Miller correctly wrote, in 1830. What Dumpster had done in his determination to do down his scintillating rival was to look up the wrong W Hickey in the Dictionary of National Biography. (Chumpster’s Hickey was actually an obscure Irish philanthropist, author of Irish Cottagers, etc.
PS: I gather that Daisy has sent Dumpster a solicitor’s letter announcing his intention of suing for defamation.
Abolition of GLE
Now that the GLE has gracefully retired perhaps we should be told the identity of the reincarnated Lord Grovel. Is he, by any chance, related to gossip (“diarist”) Richard Compton Miller?
15th November 1985
Street of Shame
The Express’s new boss, dwarf-sized David Stevens, was due to be introduced last week to the Sunday Express hacks by veteran editor Sir Jonah Junor.
But in the event Stevens was only allowed to meet one journalist.
“This is Lady Olga Maitland,” purred Sir Jonah, introducing the fragrant hackette to her employer and laying extra stress on the title.
“We’re right behind Sir John!” trilled the well-rehearsed doyenne.
“And we’re right behind you, Lady Olga,” replied Mr Stevens.
Sir Jonah looked reassured by this exchange of civilities.
* Drone note: Junor was replaced as Sunday Express editor by Robin Esser the following year.
I receive a call from a solicitor called Matthieson at Lovell White and King.
He tells me that he is acting for Richard Compton Miller, the Daily Express’s witty diarist in his historic libel action against the ex-GLE Nigel “Humpty” Dumpster.
Will I be able to confirm, he asks, that certain unflattering references in my column were contributed by Humpty?
I tell him that in normal circumstances it would be improper for me to reveal my sources. However, in view of the gravity of the libel against one of our most distinguished journalists, I may have to reconsider my position.
However much doubt there may be that the “Countess Andrassy” has legitimately inherited her title, your assertion is seriously undermined when you write “students of the Hapsburg Empire have yet to trace” the family. Even my O-level pupils would be expected to know of them. (Count Gyala Andrassy 1823-1890 was first Hungarian prime minister, his son the last Imperial foreign minister).
Brian House, Glanville, Castle Cary, Somerset
Next thing you will be telling us there is no Russian word for freedom.
Grovel’s “students of the Hapsburg (sic) Empire” tell us they can’t trace the Hungarian family of Andrassy (incidentally “of Szik-Szent-Kiraly and Kraszna Horka”). They must either regard Counts as sufficiently OK or think that all Hungarians are called Balogh or Biro.
38 Lysia Street, London SW6
29th November 1985
Street of Shame
Indolent Getsmuchworse hacks, unaccustomed to churning out more than 1000 words a year for their £25,000-plus salaries, were stunned to hear new supremo David Stevens’ megaplan for increased efficiency.
“Every journalist,” announced Stevens, “should produce 1500 words a day.”
Following my recent appeal I am inundated with snippets about Melissa “Countess Andrassy”, the wife of new Express boss David Stevens.
I am reliably told that the Countess’s maiden name was Milicevic and that she originally came from New York. The Milicevic mob are from Serbia and there is not an aristo among them.
Prince Paul Odescalchi, an Andrassy who now lives in Cheltenham, says he does not know the lady. I am referred to his cousin Giesa Andrassy, who lives in Liechtenstein and cannot help much either. A lady in Wales who keeps notes of such matters is alas no help at all.
I have better luck concerning those dimmer days when Melissa went under the simple handle of Mrs Sadoff. After her first marriage to an American clerk, which got her into the USA, Melissa teamed up with musician Bob Sadoff. They operated for a while in showbiz in and around Las Vegas working with Welsh warbler Tom Jones among others.
The Sadoffs then came to London where they were tenants of a Mr Ralph Saunders in Chester Square. Apparently there was some difficulty getting them out.
None of this explains the mystery of the tale. My fiver is still on offer.
*DRONE NOTE: Melissa, who did in fact become Lady Stevens after David’s ennoblement, choked to death on a sliver of peach four years later in 1989. She was 55.
The Glasgow Herald reported: Lord Stevens told a Westminster inquest his Hungarian-born wife had been unwell for about two weeks. “She had a sort of flu and had not been particularly fit.”
At about 6am on February 19, Lord Stevens said he heard heavy breathing coming from the bathroom. “There was not a sound of choking, but as if gasping for air.”
He found a finger-sized slice of peach his wife’s mouth and the rest of the fruit and its stone untouched.
Coroner Dr Paul Knapman recorded a verdict of accidental death.
Lord Stevens, who will be 90 on May 26, now sits as one of three Ukip peers in the Lords.