ALAN FRAME completes a strong presence from the World’s Greatest Newspaper as he attends Gerard Greaves’ Mail leaving do
And so to the Gore Hotel in Kensington on a beautiful late summer’s evening to see Express alumni at play. The occasion was Gerard Greaves’ departure from the deputy editor’s chair at the Mail on Sunday to take over as No 2 at the Daily Mail. As usual, many of the 100+ guests were old lags of the once finest newspaper in Fleet Street before leaving to take their talents to Rothermere Towers.
Gerard is a good example: Started at the DX as a casual news reporter in 1990, then on to the staff before becoming deputy news editor and later Our Man in New York. When Richard Addis (who?) took over as editor and said to Gerard that he didn’t know where America was on the map Greaves knew the code: ‘I am the boss and no longer want a US presence.’ (Addis might have added: “I am a complete prat whose brain was ruined while studying to be a monk”) So Gerard left to join the Express in Exile in Derry Street where from September 5 he is to deputise for the best known of those escapees, Paul Dacre.
Our old boys and girls at last night’s jolly included Heather McGlone, David Wigg, Maureen Paton, Sam Taylor, Peter Hardy, Craig Mackenzie, Andrew Preston, Sandy Williams, yours truly and of course Mrs Greaves, the lovely Lisa Sewards, once the Express’s star interviewer.
Piers Morgan, still writing a column for the MoS’s Event Magazine, gave – and it pains me to say this – an excellent ‘Best Man’ speech during which he told how he tried and failed to get a joke past Gerard and into the column. This is it: “What one word would describe the murder of Piers Morgan?”
Answer: Countryside (needs to be spoken rather than written…)
Greaves was in fine form and told the hair-raising story of how, when he was editor of Live magazine, the predecessor of Event, Associated decided to make a cinema ad boasting the fact that the Mail on Sunday had in its package a women’s interest magazine, You (edited by another Express émigré Sue Peart), and one for men (and laddish men at that). So a battle scene was devised with a horde of women armed with sharpened lipsticks taking on the chaps. Sue and Gerard were instructed to make sure the extras all ‘looked our kind of readers’ so one assumes that ruled out tattoos, perms, too-obvious pneumatic enhancements and nose rings. The cost of filming, distributing and showing the ad was £3 million – these days that’s probably more than the entire Express editorial budget for the year.
And for all of you who thought the magazine was called Live (to rhyme with hive) think again. It was actually Live to rhyme with Viv because until a week or so before its launch it was to be called Live It. Then it was discovered that name was already registered in Australia and the hasty adjustment was made. Even the editor, Gerard, thought it was Live as in Hive.
He also told how Morgan had presented his expenses for one particular week and the entry for the Thursday was, even by the old standards of the finest Fleet Street claims, off the scale. Lobster, wagyu steak, truffles, plus six bottles of Pétrus and various fine Cognacs. Assuming his man had been entertaining the Household Cavalry, Gerard looked at what Morgan had written in his copy for that day. It began: Lunch with Ronnie Corbett.
A splendid evening and one which effectively brings the leadership of the Mail back to how it should be: with two Expressmen at the helm!