THE WORLD’S GREATEST WEBSITE   

LONDON

MONDAY 9 DECEMBER 2019

WEATHER: MAINLY SUNNY, MAX 10C
_________________________________

QUOTE OF THE DAY

The only way to enjoy anything in life is to earn it first
— Ginger Rogers
_______________

Today's papers

9FRONTS.jpg

DRONETUBE

THE LIFE OF DOWNING

Former Daily Express chief photographer JOHN DOWNING is the subject of a fascinating documentary shown recently on ITV Wales. Several familar faces can be spotted in the programme including Leon Symons, Gill Martin and Liz Gill, whose late husband Danny McGrory is also pictured. Run time is 23.20

CHUMS: A still from the ITV programme, featuring John Downing, centre, with Liz Gill, Leon Symons and Gill Martin in the front row

__________

DRONETUBE
Clive James chats to Alan Coren in the Daily Express  Fleet Street foyer, July 1991

Clive James, who has died at the age of 80, visited the Daily Express Fleet Street offices in this BBC Postcard From London recorded in July 1991 after the paper had moved to Blackfriars.

He chats about the old days in Fleet Street with his old friend Alan Coren in the famed foyer of the newspaper. The relevant part starts at 24.20 but if you want to watch the whole show it runs for 48 minutes.

__________

Another Wilde Lookalike

7LOOKALIKE.jpg

                   WILDE                                   LIDDLE       

By ROSALIE RAMBLESHANKS, (Trainee)

So, who’s a pretty boy then? Well, actually they both are. Despite being born a century apart, these two look so alike (tick!) they could be brothers. 

One, of course, is the well-known and ubiquitous columnist and commentator Rod Liddle; the other is a poet and playwright called Oscar Wilde. (Rosalie, dear, if that’s an attempt at Muldoon-like understatement as levity, kindly desist. It didn’t do him much good and neither will it you — Ed). 

The loquacious Liddle writes columns for such disparate publications as the Sun, the Spectator and the Sunday Times. He even contributes a thoughtful and informed weekly piece on football for the ST. Once he was the award-winning editor of Today when the Radio 4 Programme actually broke stories and set the news agenda for the nation. 

Wilde, an Irishman (wouldn’tcha know) was, of course,  a genius, the master of the epigram, aphorism and quotable quote. 

Both had interesting private lives. Liddle cut short his honeymoon to spend quality time with the woman who became his second wife; Wilde had a propensity for young men which led to his incarceration in Reading Gaol (qf The Ballad of). 

Eventually banished to Paris, he had a sad end in a dingy hotel. Typically, his witty last words were: “This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes, or I do.” 

It didn’t; he did.

__________

SEX PEST FINDS HIS PLACE IN THE SUN
By POPBITCH, Gossip Editor

The Sun was happy to get on its high horse about Premier League boss David Pemsel's inappropriate sexting of a former colleague, but its dedication to rooting out the sex pests in its own workplace is a little more slapdash. 

In among the well-known sleazes on their payroll, one hack's persistent creepiness with female colleagues is so legendary that it's become something of a running joke at the Sun to attach the guy's byline to any small-fry story they run that contains perverts, fondlers, gropers or pornography. 

It's one way to deal with the employee who once made so many dick jokes at a work experience girl that he made her cry – but maybe HR would be better?

__________

ELECTION LOOKALIKES

5looks.jpeg

__________

Monty launches bid to grab Scotsman and Yorkshire Post

4POST.jpg

FORMER News of the World editor David Montgomery is bidding to buy the Yorkshire Post and The Scotsman.

National World, set up by Montgomery, is in talks to take over JPI Media, which owns dozens of major local papers in Britain – including the Edinburgh Evening News, the Lancashire Post, the Sheffield Star and the Sunderland Echo.

The entrepreneur, 71, stepped in as JPI Media struggles to find a buyer after Reach, the publisher of the Express and Mirror titles, and Newsquest, the UK’s second-biggest local newspaper publisher, dropped out of the auction, according to the Guardian.

Reach, which is understood to have submitted a bid of about £50m, pulled out believing the portfolio of papers had been valued too high. Newsquest was facing significant competition issues in Scotland, where it owns titles including The Herald, the Evening Times and The National.

The lack of bidders for the titles shows the parlous state in which most of the UK’s local newspapers find themselves. The circulation of the Yorkshire Post stands at just 18,500. Sales of the once-mighty Scotsman are in even worse shape, selling just under 15,000.

The decline has been precipitous. In 2005, Johnston Press – now JPI Media – paid £160m to buy the Scotsman group, which also includes Scotland on Sunday and the Edinburgh Evening News, from the Barclay brothers.

Last November, the titles were assigned a value of just £4.3m by creditors acting for Johnston Press, which was taken over by its lenders and rebranded JPI Media after being crippled by debts of more than £200m.

On Friday, JPI Media completed a £50m deal to sell its crown jewel title, the i, to the publisher of the Daily Mail.

Montgomery is aiming to replicate the model he used for his last venture, Local World, which involved combining more than 100 local newspapers from Daily Mail & General Trust’s Northcliffe Media, and Iliffe News & Media, including the Nottingham Post and Cambridge News in 2012.

While he transformed the profitability of the group, his tenure as owner was marked by deep cost-cutting and consolidation of the titles in a shift to digital. He then sold the business to Reach, which owns regional titles including the Manchester Evening News and the Liverpool Echo, in 2015 in a deal worth £220m.

__________

Today’s cartoons

9MORLAND.jpeg

MORTEN MORLAND, Sunday Times

9ADCOCK.jpeg

BRIAN ADCOCK

9BLOWER.jpeg

PATRICK BLOWER, Daily Telegraph

9KAL ECON.jpeg

KEVIN KALLAUGHER, The Economist

9BENJEN.jpeg

BEN JENNINGS

UNSEEN MATT
Cartoon that never made the paper last week

MATT PRITCHETT, Daily Telegraph

__________

SO … WE HAVE A NEW TRAINEE

Rosalie’s Lookalike

1REPTILES.jpg

LUCAS                                   REPTILE

By ROSALIE RAMBLESHANKS (trainee)

So, I rummaged through the previous trainee’s drawers and found this idea. Well they do look alike. That’s a big tick!!! But they are very different really. 

One is a tortoise, a slow-moving reptile which lives to a great age and carries its house on its back. Granny Rambleshanks saw plenty of them when she sailed around the Galapagos with Silversea. She says if you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all. Mind you, after lunch, all inclusive, I’m surprised Granny could see anything !!!

The other is a lady called Caroline Lucas, who is a big noise in the Green Party. As there is a General Election on she is on the television a lot telling people what to think. 

Mummy says she’s harmless really but Daddy says he’d like to slap her, which isn’t very nice!!! 

(Very commendable start, Rosalie, dear. Next time try to find people who look more alike and discover something interesting to say about them. If I can help further, my door is always open — Ed)

__________

Out damned Spotty! Now we’ve fired that stupid boy Muldoon 

30EAGLES.jpg

EAGLE                                         EAGLE

Political Corrs, who’d have ‘em? We’ve already had cause to remonstrate with Hoss, Laura and little Bobby Peston about their Lookalikes failures in the past and now these two Labour MPs have slipped through their net. 

OK, so they’re not exactly alike: their hair colour is different for a start. But even a modicum of research reveals spooky similarities. Both born in Yorkshire, both; believe it or not, went to the same schools in Lancashire; both took PPE at Oxford; both served as Labour shadow ministers; both have 

(Muldoon, you numpty, stop right there! Of course Maria and Angela Eagle are, and do look, alike: they’re twin sisters. Right, you’re fired. The company’s willing to give you a month’s more pay than the statutory legal requirement if you sign a Non Disclosure Agreement concerning certain working practices at the Daily Drone. Collect your belongings and leave the building immediately — Ed)

__________

Why can’t Geordie track down his old party pal Ghislaine?

ghislaine.jpeg

By POPBITCH

Where in the world is Ghislaine Maxwell?

Since Prince Andrew’s excruciating interview, the Press has redoubled its efforts to track down the whereabouts of Jeffrey Epstein’s elusive “fixer" Ghislaine Maxwell.

So far, no dice — but it’s weird that Daily Mail editor Geordie Grieg hasn’t thought to put in a call.

He and Ghislaine were big pals when they were contemporaries at Oxford and have remained close in the intervening years.

In fact a quick image search through some of the better known picture agencies shows the two of them partying together as recently as 2013 (and in a very intimate looking clinch in 2003).

He knows there’s a £10,000 bounty going for this, right? That’s got to be worth a quick text, surely.

At the risk of attracting the attention of Inspector Knacker, we appear to have found a couple of  the aforementioned pics  — Ed

ghislaine2.jpg

__________

MULDOON’S ELECTION LOOKALIKE

29MCDONNELL.jpg

GREAT WHITE                           McDONNELL

One is a greatly feared, cold-hearted, ruthless predator who, with all-seeing eyes, goes to great depths to pursue helpless victims then swoops in for the kill; the other is a great white shark.

John McDonnell, Labour’s Chancellor in waiting (Eh? - Ed), is one of those spooky characters who, when he (rarely) smiles, looks more menacing than when he tries to look menacing. 

Corbyn’s  enforcer in chief once trained for the priesthood but decided instead to save the nation for eternal glory as a politician (Is this the line we should be spinning? — Ed). 

Meanwhile, according to Professor Dirk Muldoon, of the Broadstairs Shark Research and Conversation Programme, a great white shark is still a great white shark.

__________

Farewell to the great Moncrieff

28moncrieff.jpg

LEGEND: Chris Moncrieff in the corridors of power

THE world of journalism is mourning the loss of another great reporter — the legendary former political editor of the Press Association Chris Moncrieff.

Moncrieff, who was known for his hard working and his equally hard drinking, has died at the age of 88.

Such was his reputation around Parliament that the Commons Press Bar was renamed in his honour.

Former Expressman TERRY MANNERS, who went on to work for the PA, told the Drone: "Chris Moncrieff was one of the kindest, most likeable people you could meet … hard-working to the extreme, dedicated and trustworthy. 

"When Paul Potts asked me to work on the official book covering the history of the Press Association with Chris, I jumped at the chance, knowing I would have to keep pace with the scribe’s rapid work rate — especially as the doyen of the Commons no longer excelled in the excesses of the Commons Bar. 

(This was once the man who had a pint in hideaways all over Westminster ready for the long day and night ahead, especially debates — on a corner shelf; in a cupboard; behind a curtain). He could be assured of a drink anywhere he liked and at any time no matter where he was covering a political story.

In fact Chris’s work rate was so high all his life that he hated taking time off and would be in PA’s London office or the Commons before the day shift arrived – and still be there long into the evening. 

I remember a moment at a function, I think to celebrate his long-standing years of service with PA, which his good lady wife attended. In a pause in the conversation over gin and tonics and egg and watercress sandwiches, Paul and other Board members spoke highly of Chris’s talent, endless hard work, long hours and dedication to the company as Mrs Moncrieff smiled with pride. 

When the praise subsided she turned to Paul and said quietly: “Thank you and I know that you value Chris’s hard work but don’t you think, after all these years, he deserves to have more than one week’s annual holiday?”

Stunned silence.

Guardian obituary

__________

FIFTY GREAT YEARS OF THE CURRANT BUN

READ ALL ABOUT IT: The cover of the lavish 400-page book

It seems like only yesterday that it launched but The Sun is now celebrating it’s 50th year.

The paper has marked the occasion with the publication of a lavish 400-page book which has been issued to all staff and contributors.

The Drone’s ROGER WATKINS has got his hands on a copy.

Read his comprehensive review, only in the Drone

__________

ANOTHER ANDY GETS THE ELBOW
Coulson airbrushed out of Sun’s 50th anniversary 
beano

1969-Nov-17-e1573639563786.jpg

SUNRISE: The paper's first front page, November 17, 1969

By POPBITCH
As part of The Sun's recent 50th anniversary celebrations, Dan Wootton wrote a gushing tribute to the paper's Bizarre column, revisiting some of its best scoops from its various former editors. 

Most of the big names were there: Piers Morgan, Nick Ferrari, Gordon Smart, Dan himself. But there was one rather notable exception. 

Once again, there was absolutely no mention of Andy Coulson. 

Coulson edited Bizarre for four years in the 90s but — in much the same way he was airbrushed out of the Times' serialisation of David Cameron's recent memoirs — there was no trace to be found of him. 

It's a shame, because there's still plenty of good stories about Andy from those high, heady days to be told. The evening he chazbapped with Anna Friel, for example.

Muldoon’s Lookalike

25GINGER.jpg

HAIGH                                   FERGIE

The first rule of doppelgängers is: Never be seen in the same room at the same time.

Veterans of the Express’s Fleet Street days fondly recall how women’s editor Katherine Hadley would glide out of the newsroom door to Aitken House to answer a summons from Struan Coupar and the lads from PricewaterhouseCoopers just as bouffant-haired foreign correspondent/diary editor Ross Benson sashayed in from the other door.

And have you ever seen flame-haired junior shadow minister Louise Haigh on the Buckingham Palace balcony? Or the copper-locked Duchess of York plotting in some Commons corridor with Jeremy Corbyn?

Of course not. Rule One applies.

__________

DRONETUBE SPECIAL
The golden age of newspapers

A fascinating look at architecture which built London’s Fleet Street

__________

ROYAL PIC OF THE WEEK
I have no recollection of meeting these men - Duke of Pork (sword)

IT’S ALL DOWNHILL NOW FOR ANDREW

By CLARENCE HOUSE, Royal Reporter

BUCKINGHAM Palace has issued a strong denial that the Duke of York has been involved in bizarre sexual practices involving hill marching.

It is reported that up to ten thousand men are alleged to have been involved in incidents involving the Duke.

One participant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: “I and loads of other guys were offered money to dress up in early 19th century uniforms and then march to the top of a hill.

“When we got there we were greeted by an extremely ‘excited’ Prince Andrew. He was very giggly now I think about it.

“Then, just when we thought it was all over, he seemed keen to make us march all the way back down again.”

Another man, who also claims to have been involved, claimed: “He was quite firm about it, when we were up we were up and when we were down we were down.”

Denying the claims, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “All allegations in this matter are false, and records will clearly show these men were neither up nor down.”

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Dear Sir

Your item about the Duke of York’s penchant for hill marching prompts me to inform you that it started at this school in the 16th century, not as a “bizarre sexual practice” but as a way of honing junior boys’ youthful bodies and hardening up their supple young thighs.

It was traditionally said of those lads who did not want to take part: “They don’t like it Uppingham!”

Yours etc

Dr DICK MULDOON

Downham House

Uppingham School

Rutland

__________

JONATHAN PIE is ...
Raab’d up the wrong way  

__________

BANTZ IN THE PANTZ

22BANTZ.jpeg

By POPBITCH

The Daily Star ran a front page last week bemoaning the death of workplace "bantz", saying that nearly two-thirds of men are now afraid to make "old-school quips" in the office in case PC snowflakes kick up a fuss.

Clearly, this news has yet to reach the broadsheets. Staff at The Times are well used to hearing some very salty language from their esteemed editor. 

More than one colleague alleges they have been treated to his charming chat-up line: "You have no idea how much I want to shove my cock into you.

This story is completely untrue m’lud (allegedly) — Cocklecarrot

__________

MRS MULDOON’S ...

General Election lookalike 

22LOOKALIKE.jpg

RAYNER                                  PHILLIPS

If Jeremy Corbyn loses the election (If? — Ed) the already-formed queue of MPs desperate to replace him will quickly start to shuffle its collective feet impatiently, writes Drone Political Analyst ELVIRA MULDOON (Mrs).

Whom to select? After all, they all seem to spout the same jargon (stridently) and some even look alike. 

Take this pair of identikit wannabees: 

Angela Rayner has, as they say, an interesting back story: the daughter of an illiterate mother, she left school at 16 without any qualifications because she was pregnant. Now, a grandmother at 39, she is the Shadow Education Secretary and an influential diner at the Labour high table.

The other is outspoken Jess Phillips, who, despite proclaiming “I think I’d be a good prime minister” has endured an ambivalent relationship with the Labour hierarchy. 

She is said to have once told Diane Abbott to “fuck off” during a party row. Asked what Abbott did next, La Phillips replied: “She fucked off.”

Both women to watch and, alas, listen to.

__________

IF THEY HAD KIDS ...

20KIDS.jpeg

___________

AS ANDY BOWS OUT OF ROYAL DUTIES … 

Where the Duke of Porkies went wrong

__________

Night a mini-skirted Anne asked our man to bump-start her car

STEPPING OUT: Anne in her mini-skirt days

Former Express and Mirror man TERRY PATTINSON has regaled his friends on Facebook with the following memory

The late Daily Express photographer Harry Dempster and I pulled the short straw of having to watch Princess Anne and her latest boyfriend arrive at a restaurant on the Embankment at Chelsea. (It was in the 60s when she was still single).

We had to wait until they finished dinner, so it was a long vigil until they left.

When Harry finished snapping he put his cameras into the boot of his car.

We chatted on the street corner and plotted sneaking away for a pint or three before returning to the office.

Suddenly I felt a tap on my right shoulder (Yes, a funny place to have a tap — Chick Murray, Scots comedian.)

It was Princess Anne.

She said her boyfriend's car would not start and could we help? Obviously, she did not know who we were.

I informed her and her boyfriend how to 'bump start' using the gear and the clutch.

All three of us pushed the car while her boyfriend sat behind the wheel, Anne was wearing a mini-skirt, so the royal posterior was in the air as we pushed the car.

The car started and the white sport car roared off — Anne blew us a kiss..

After they disappeared we both realised that we had missed a great photo — it could have been the royal photograph of the year.

Harry said: "Please do not tell anybody about this until after I am dead."

And I never did.

__________

THEY’VE DUNAWAY WITH THE SUBS AGAIN
What a sloppy way to write a caption

This wonderful portrait of actress Faye Dunaway not only demonstrates the towering talent of former Fleet Street “monkey” Terry O’Neill, who has died at 81, but the often average quality of the journalism on Mail Online which marked his death.

Back in Fleet Street, Express subs were instructed to appraise a picture properly by staring at it “until the eyeballs ache — and then stare at it some more”.

Lloyd Turner had two rules on writing a caption: it should always describe what is going on in the picture; and a reader should first look at the snap, then the caption and read something there that made him want to look at the picture again.

So what would the Express backbencher and Daily Star Editor have made of this lamentable effort? The writer has broken all the rules. In a generous three lines he/she has had the space even to give the exact date (as well as the noon temperature in downtown Santa Monica and the Dow closing price). 

But what’s that shiny thing on the table? And what’s that splash head in the paper on the floor? Are they not worth a mention?

Could it be that this iconic morning-after-the night-before picture depicts Dunaway reflecting on the Oscars she and Peter Finch (he posthumously) had just won for Network?

Indeed, it could. Oh, and the fact that O’Neill went on to marry Dunaway might have been worth squeezing in. And what about spelling Beverly Hills correctly?

*A reader writes: From the way she is slumped in her chair she could well have been shot dead. (At first sight anyway.)  But if anyone is accused of getting away with murder it should be the Mail Online caption sub. 

MEMORIES OF
TERRY O’NEILL

Terry O’Neill, CBE, photographer, who worked on the Daily Sketch, was born on July 30, 1938. He died of prostate cancer on November 17, 2019, aged 81

ROBIN MCGIBBON remembers: I first encountered Terry O'Neill on the Sketch, in 1963. But we didn't strike up a friendship until the early seventies when I launched a publishing company, Everest Books, and we met to discuss projects.

One of the books I published was the authorised biography of Bobby Moore - and it led to Terry giving me a bollocking.

Bobby was keen for me to use a classy photo Terry had taken of him, as the book's cover. I was more than happy to oblige and, at the star-studded book launch — at the Martini Terrace, in New Zealand House — I made a welcoming speech, in which I singled Terry out for special thanks for letting my company have the pic for nothing.

I felt sure he would be pleased, but as soon as I'd finished speaking Terry pulled me to one side and called me a cupid stunt for embarrassing him with Elton John, one of many showbiz guests there.

"I let you have that photo for nothing as a favour," Terry fumed. "But when I'm asked to photograph Elton, I charge him twenty grand."

Happily, that incident did not damage our relationship — or Terry's with Elton —because, a few years later, I bumped into Terry and he told me he had been to one of Elton's legendary fancy dress parties.

Knowing Terry was not one for dressing up, I asked him what costume he had worn.  He said he'd sprayed some luminous gold stage make-up on one of his fingers and gone as Goldfinger. 

That was Terry. Always imaginative. Always original.

*****
CLIVE GOOZEE: Monica and I met Terry O’Neill at the Royal Bath Hotel in Bournemouth where we’ve lived since 2005. He was on a tour promoting his book of Sinatra photos entitled Frank and Friendly, not always friendly, Terry told me. 

I introduced myself by saying I had worked nearly 25 years on Express Sport, mentioning the names of some of the photographers,  including John Downing, Reg Lancaster, Harry Dempster, he knew them all. He autographed the book (pictured) then he called over his book’s editor, former Sunday Express editor Robin Morgan, who arrived from the Sunday Times to replace Robin Esser. 

I was expecting someone posh sounding but he had a strong Black Country accent and he was a Wolves fan = just like me!

Picture gallery of O’Neill’s work

Terrific obituary in The Times

AND SO TO BED ...

Do not adjust your sets — this video has no sound

__________

ELECTION LOOKALIKE

18LOOKALIKE2.jpg

MORAN                                 PIDCOCK

Hoss, Peston, Kuenssberg please step into the bollocking bay. Now, team, you’re going to have to raise your game: you’re missing a great election story. Haven’t you noticed that two sisters are standing for different parties?

Labour’s leadership hope Laura Pidcock and Lib Dem rising star Layla Moran may disagree on politics but they’ve got to be related. 

Mind you, in the home of keen political analyst Elvira Muldoon they’re both known as “Chopsey  Mopsey”. Well, they do like the sound of their own voices. 

__________

Another fine mess, Stanley

YOU can’t keep a good man down … except when he goes under the knife. 

Former Daily Express reporter Peter ‘Stanley’ Mason was still smiling after spinal surgery at a hospital near his home in New South Wales.

He wrote on Facebook: “I’ve just sold my lower back and traded up to a new one.

“They call it a partial laminectomy with spinal fusion.

“It’s bloody painful but I had a top surgeon, brilliant and expensive but worth every penny. Should be back on the golf course by Christmas.”

The operation came after Peter and his wife Sheila were among 3,000 people who were forced to evacuate their homes in the Australian bush fire crisis. He has promised to write an account of the emergency when he is back on his feet.

__________

OCTOBER CIRCULATION FIGURES
REACH SUNDAY TITLES ARE BIGGEST LOSERS

SUNDAY titles published by Reach recorded the biggest losses in circulation last month, according to ABC figures published yesterday. 

The Daily Star Sunday, Sunday People and Sunday Post were the worst-performing titles in October, both falling year-on-year by 18 per cent, followed by the Daily Star, Sunday Mirror and Sunday Mail which all lost 16 per cent.

All are owned by Reach, except for the Sunday Post which is a  D C Thomson title.

Smallest losses were recorded by the Guardian and Observer which both saw their circulations fall by five per cent year-on-year in October – the Guardian to 128,492 copies and the Observer to 160,068.

Behind them were the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Financial Times, which all saw a seven per cent year-on-year circulation drop.

Free newspapers City AM, Metro and the Evening Standard continued to see the smallest readership declines.

__________

BACK-ROOM BORIS

__________

CHUTNEY MYSTERY SOLVED AT LAST

Our witty new series is back despite hack’s plagiarism outburst

By SPIKE DIVER

The Daily Drone is proud today to publish Part 3 of its popular Overheard in Waitrose series.

The column has not been without controversy as it led a grizzled Fleet Street hack to launch an extraordinary attack on the World’s Greatest Website.

It happened during an alcohol-fuelled lunch in a Covent Garden eaterie.

The journo, well known on national newspapers, clashed with the Drone Editor over the website’s popular series, Overheard in Waitrose.

A bystander said: “It was like something out of You’ve Been Framed: two white-haired old gits having a ruck. One seemed to be accusing the other of lifting or inventing stuff about a supermarket or something. You couldn’t make it up.”

A Daily Drone spokesman said: “We take very seriously any accusations about the probity of the website and its staff. Consequently, the matter was examined rigorously at an internal inquiry in which the editor, the HR director, the FOC and our trainee, S. Muldoon, the subject of the allegations, took part.

“None of the charges was proven and we deprecate this attempt to ankle-tap a fledgling journalist at the start of his career.”

Later the Editor issued a statement which said: “We strongly deny smears that this was a confected dispute designed to publicise a new feature in our witty and incisive Overheard in Waitrose series which is coming to the Daily Drone soon.

And a World’s Greatest Lunch Club spokesman denied that the club’s Christmas “Ladies’ Lunch” had been cancelled to “allow tempers to cool”.

PS: You’ll have to wait for the explanation about the jar of Butterworth and Sons chutney (a bargain at 2 shillings) — Ed

Today in your super soaraway Daily Drone

ALL NEW! ALL TRUE!

Overheard in Waitrose Part 3

(And find out the real story behind that bloody jar of two-bob chutney)

__________

That doughty Miss Dimont rides again

12DEVON.jpg

Former Expressman Christopher Wilson has written a fourth book in his excellent Miss Dimont Mystery series. Dead and Gone to Devon can be ordered HERE.

Describing it as the best book in the series, Christopher announced on Facebook: “It’s 1959, and apart from a stiff lighthouse, there’s also a General Election (oh no, I hear you groan.

“They did things differently back then, however — including killing the candidate.

“From all good bookshops, etc."

Old Expressmen never die, they lunch out at Simpson’s in the Strand

11 SALE TOZER.jpeg

LUNCHING IN STYLE: JOHN McEntee with Charlie Sale, centre, and Peter Tozer

MAILMAN John McEntee was on the point of leaving a smart London restaurant when he spied two old colleagues from the Daily Express sport department.

John, who edits the Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle column, wrote on Facebook: "Lurching out of Simpson's In the Strand after an Oldie literary lunch with Simons Heffner and Jenkins I came across Charlie Sale with his old friend Peter Tozer.

"Some old fogies had left a bottle of red on an adjoining table so I toasted Charlie’s return to health after illnesses. 

"Before both joining Dacre’s Mail we soldiered on the Express together when Lord Hollick sold to Richard Desmond. Charlie was furious when Hollick dispensed gifts of £40,000 at random to people on the paper. 

"I got £40k having met his lordship once at the theatre. I remember Charlie ranting in Stamford’s about the legitimate unfairness of his largesse.

"He was not consoled when I told him that I gave the £40,000 to my then wife Colette just before I bolted. I was left with a £12000 tax bill.

__________

HOW MANY?The Daily Express once had 169 staff writers and photographers
 (Tell that to the kids of today and they wouldn’t believe you)

8FOWLER MEMO.JPG

SLIGHTLY FOXED: Tony Fowler’s memo from 1973

BY SPIKE DIVER

Statistical analysis by S. MULDOON (trainee)

How the mighty have fallen. Back in 1973 the late, lamented Tony Fowler, then Night Editor of the Daily Express in Manchester wrote a memo (see picture)  to “All Executives and Sub-editors” giving a list of staff writers and photographers in the London and Manchester offices who merited bylines.

Back then, the Express Northern News Editor Stanley Blenkinsop was nearly justified in, famously, routinely answering the phone: “News Desk. The world’s greatest newspaper.”

In truth though, the Express, despite then still selling more than three million copies a day, was on the slippery slope to obscurity.

As a former London Night Editor used to introduce himself to journalism students on the lecture circuit: “Between the time I joined the Express and when I left it had lost two million copies a day. Of course, I accept some responsibility but it’s not all my fault.” 

Now the Express, under the piss-poor ownership of something called Reach, is lucky if it sells 300,000 a day; the staff has dwindled to a fraction of what it was.

In March, 1973, the Express operated out of three “black Lubyankas” (although Scottish Daily Express production staff would soon move, reluctantly and truculently, to Manchester). Wee Ian McColl was halfway through his undistinguished reign as Editor, based in London. The mercurial (a euphemism for “usually pissed”) John McDonald, a far better journalist, reigned in Great Ancoats Street.

As Tony’s memo reveals,  the London and Manchester offices boasted comparatively huge staffs of scribes and snappers (forget about the poor bloody subs and desk men). A total of 169.

CHRISTOPHER WILSON commented: "Among the names of the great and good on Tony Fowler's list is that of the legendary Frank Goldsworthy, who in 1967 came to lecture us journalistic wannabes on block release at Harlow Technical College. 

"At the end of his slightly interesting peroration someone asked if he could give a simple word of advice to a young reporter.

'Always keep two fivers tucked in the back of your passport, and a change of clothes in a suitcase in the boot of your car. That way you're ready, 24 hours a day, to fly anywhere in the world.'

“It was a fascinating insight into why old FG had survived and prospered. And one which we — who rarely saw two fivers together, and who owned neither suitcase nor car, and struggled to find a change of clothes — absorbed in wonder.

At least most of us had the passport.

Here, for the record, is the list: 

LONDON REPORTING STAFF (47)

Cyril Aynsley, Paul Dacre, Norman Dowdy, Lin Edgson, Michael Evans, Bernard Hall, John Hamshire, John Harrison, Frank Howitt, George Hunter, Jill King, Norman Luck, Colin MacKenzie, David Richardson, John Sanderson, Brian Steel,Frank Thompson, George Webber, Alastair Wilson, Arnold Latcham, Frank Goldsworthy, Richard Wright, Jack Hill, John King, Colin Pratt, David Thurlow, Declan Cunningham.

Michael Charleston, John Christopher, Kingsley Squire, David Jack, Wilfred Sendall, Daniel McGeachie, Roy Blackman, George Lochhead, Walter Partington, Alexander Kenworthy, Keith Thompson, Percy Hoskins, Chapman Pincher, Bruce Kemble, Barrie Devney, Terry Pattinson, David Benson, Leslie Nichol, James Wilkinson, Frank Robson

LONDON FEATURE WRITERS (23)

Andrew Fyall, Peter Chambers, James Davies, Douglas Orgill, Adella Lithman, Bruce Kemble, James Murray, Alan Cass

SHOW BUSINESS

Victor Davis, David Wigg, Judith Simons, Martin Jackson, Ian Christie, James Thomas

DRAMA

Herbert Kretzmer, Noel Goodwin

FASHION

Sandy Fawkes, Sue Hayton

TRAVEL

David Ash

COLUMNISTS

Mary Collins, Jean Rook, Hugh McIlvanney, Sheila Hutchins

LONDON SPORT (25)

Charles Benson, John Santer, Steve Curry, Roy Ullyett, John Davies, Crawford White, Norman Dixon, Alan Williams, Pat Gibson, Jim Gould, 

Norman Giller, David Emery, Clive Graham, Desmond Hackett, Ronald Heager, Jim Hill, Philip Hodges, Sydney Hulls, John Lloyd, Pat Marshall, Derry Meade, John Morgan, Peter O’Sullevan, Frank Rostron, Mark Wilson

LONDON PHOTOGRAPHERS (24)

Victor Blackman, David Cairns, Harry Dempster, Terry Disney, John Downing, Ronald Dumont, William Jones, Jack Kay, William (Bill) Lovelace, Stanley Meagher, Michael McKeown, Hillaria McCarthy, Douglas Morrison, Norman Quicke, Robert Stiggins, Albert McCabe, George Stroud, Michael Stroud, Leonard Trievnor, Brian Laister, John Moran, Chris Wood, Reg Lancaster, Robert Chapman

MANCHESTER REPORTING STAFF (29)

John Alley, John Bell, Alan Bennett, Donald Blankly, Tony Brooks, Gerry Burke, Derek Hornby, Don Mackay, Carole Newton, James Price, Harry Pugh, Brian Ratcliff, Trevor Reynolds, Maurice Richards, Peter Welbourn, Robert Wilson, Frank Welsby, Philip Aris, Alan Baxter, Robert Brady, Peter Doyle, George Hill, Leonard Holliday, William Hunter, John Ley, Neil Moran, Leslie Poole, Peggie Robinson, Leslie Clare

MANCHESTER FEATURE WRITERS (6)

Geoffrey Mather, Gerard Dempsey, Ray Purcell, Geoffrey Newson, Ron Boyle, Mary Duffy

MANCHESTER PHOTOGRAPHERS (15)

George Birch, Leo Carter, James Dakin, John Dawes, Brian Duff, Peter Jackson, James Milne, Ernest McLintock, Alan Steele, John Wardaugh, Gordon Amory, William Gregory, Barry Henson, Stanley Pope, Robert Renton

Norman Giller reckons Tony Fowler missed some journalists out:

MANCHESTER SPORTS WRITERS

Bill Fryer, Alan Thompson, Derek Hodgson, Derek Potter, James Lawton. Mike Dempsey was sports editor.

__________

Reflections on the First Tuesday Club

The First Tuesday Club of former Express staff is still going strong. After years of meeting at the Old Bank of England pub it has now moved across Fleet Street to The George.

If you look closely at the picture you can discern the reflection of the club’s organiser David Eliades who reserves an area of the historic pub every month for the get-together.

Why not join David and the others? The club’s next meeting will be on Tuesday, 3 December.

__________

It’s Mad Mat as you’ve never seen him before

ONE of the brightest young men to have passed through the hallowed portals of the Daily Express is former news sub-editor Mat Ward.

A fine journalist possessed of a great sense of humour, Mat has since moved to Australia where he now makes music.

He wrote on Instagram with tongue firmly in cheek: "Thank you Cadbury! I'm happy to announce that, like many of my favourite artists, I have now hit the big time and have found a sponsor! 

"This is a great partnership as I have loved Cadbury products since the day I was born, if not way before I was born. Except for Dairy Milk. 

"I am open to other offers so hit me up at matwardmusic@gmail.com — all products considered — 'climate-damaging' fossil fuel vehicles, foodstuffs that others consider ‘unhealthy', I'll hock any old shit for cash, because everyone knows musicians make no money so it doesn't damage your cred these days! Thank you." * sponsored post *

Find out more about Mat’s music here

__________

FLEET STREET IN 1907

3FS 1907.jpeg

The Daily Express was just seven years old when this picture was taken 112 years ago.

Note the steam engine crossing the bridge over Ludgate Hill. Many small alleys were swept away in the late 1860s to build Ludgate Hill railway station between Water Lane and New Bridge Street, a station of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway. 

The station was closed in 1923. The railway bridge and viaduct between Holborn Viaduct and Blackfriars stations survived until it was demolished in 1990 to enable the construction of the City Thameslink railway station in a tunnel. This also involved the regrading of the slope of Ludgate Hill at the junction.

geograph.jpg

STILL RECOGNISABLE: The same scene today

__________

Downing launches book 

of his life’s work at an emotional ceremony

2DOWNING.jpeg

PROUD: John Downing with his wife Anita at the launch

FORMER Daily Express photographer John Downing has proudly launched the book of his life’s work at an emotional ceremony.

Reporter Kim Willsher, who accompanied Downing of many news assignments, wrote on Facebook: “We laughed. We cried. We saw old friends and colleagues. but most of all we celebrated the life and work of John Downing and his book Legacy.

“It was a moving, humbling, sad but also joyful evening.

“I am thinking of this short poem by Raymond Carver. I think we showed John that he is beloved."

Late Fragment

And did you get what you wanted from this life even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.

John is suffering from terminal lung cancer.

FEELING BLUE: Sometimes the job can get you down as John found when he covered the Tories’ Blackpool conference in 1987

My best photograph, by Express star Downing

Patients from Molesey Cottage Hospital, who were rescued by police and soldiers during flooding in Surrey, 17 August 1968. Photograph: John Downing/Getty Images

CELEBRATED Express photographer John Downing considers this picture of flood victims being rescued to be the most definitive of his massive portfolio.

Former Express reporter Kim Willsher, writing in The Guardian, quotes Downing as saying: “There’s such a lot happening in it; every part of it tells a story and you don’t need any words to know what is going on. 

“As a news photographer, you’re the eyes of the reader, so you’re always trying to catch the defining moment. For me, the defining moment in this image is the elderly woman lighting a cigarette for another elderly patient while they are being rescued.”

John’s book, Downing: The Legacy, is published by Bluecoat Press.

The big picture, by Kim Willsher

The Downing Legacy

__________

MAIL ONLINE’S NEW CONCEPT: NEARLY NEWS
WHAT A LOAD OF COBBLERS 


By SPIKE DIVER
In an astonishing breakthrough in the world of data management, Mail Online has unveiled a daring new concept in the dissemination of information.

Nearly News.

This week the website, which has a huge global reach, announced to its millions of readers that the wife of a Hollywood star had nearly fallen over in the street.

Yup, you read that correctly. Amal Clooney, wife of superstar George, was reported to have missed her footing in a cobbled street in New York and almost went arse over tits. But didn’t.

There’s more. Mail Online’s Brian Gallagher (sorry, mate, there’s no hiding place from this even if you did file it at 2.43 in the morning) contrasts Amal’s experience with that of her sister, Tala, who actually did fall down in similar circumstances four years ago.

Incidentally, all praise to the website’s archives. Imagine sending Messenger Jack to the Express library in Fleet Street to retrieve a tattered envelope marked: Hollywood Stars’ Relatives (Falls).

In an attempt to catch up, the Editor of the Daily Drone, a bit miffed that he didn’t think of this innovative way to massage a news schedule, sent trainee S. Muldoon to rummage through the dustbins at Derry Street for other examples of Nearly News. Here’s a selection:

Frank Bruno nearly passes

Latin GCSE after intensive

tuition in his lunch hour

*****
Diane Abbott nearly appointed

Waynflete Professor of Pure

Mathematics at Oxford University

*****
Julian Clarey nearly called

into England front row

*****

John Bercow nearly winner of

Donald Trump-Piers Morgan

Shrinking Violet Award For

Modesty And Self Effacement 

*****

Canvey Island nearly named

Europe’s coolest surfing spot

by readers of Big Board Bugle

*****

S. Muldoon (trainee) nearly

voted Digital Journalist of

the Year by Press Gazette

*****

Pop poppet Lulu nearly

chose Careless Whisper

as her debut disc - report

__________

NOSEBAGS AT NOON FOR ...

Three Express amigos

NO wonder they’re smiling — these three former Expressmen managed to escape from the Black Lubjanka for the more journalist-friendly and lucrative Mail group.

Enjoying lunch at Wholefoods in London's Kensington are, from left, diarist Peter Mackay, who is now retired; John McEntee, editor of the Daily Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle; and Peter Hitchens, who writes a column for the Mail on Sunday.

McEntee wrote on Facebook: My dear friend Peter [Mackay] worked with me on the Express when he shared an office with Peter Tory overlooking the Thames at Blackfriars. The pair watched the slow construction of what became the wobbly bridge from St Paul’s to Tate Modern.

When it was half finished the Queen walked out into the Thames on the incomplete structure. I recall going into the two Peters’ office and joining them and we stared at HM at the end of the half-finished edifice in the middle of the river.

None of us spoke. 

__________

Zack gets em-rule back after 33 years

PICA RULES OK: Pat Pilton, left, presents Jon Zackon with the prized em-rule at Joe Allen yesterday

Back in the old days em-rules were prized possessions and locked away securely at the end of the night.

So you can imagine Jon Zackon’s dismay when his disappeared from the Fleet Street offices of the Daily Express back in 1986.

Later, the rule reappeared on Pat Pilton’s desk and the dispute over its ownership has been the subject of much light-hearted debate for the ensuing 33 years.

That was all settled at Joe Allen’s London restaurant when the World’s Greatest Lunch Club convened with Zack as it’s guest.

And there was a touch of the 1970s as he sat at the lunch table with the rule poking out of his jacket pocket.

LIKE THE OLD DAYS: Jon at the lunch table with his em-rule poking out of his pocket as Pat and Dick Dismore look on

__________

How Hickey ed Wilson saved this Fleet Street sculpture from crusher

SAVED: The Three Printers sculpture in New Street Square 50 years ago, left, and in its present position in Goldsmiths Sunken Garden, London   Pictures by CHRISTOPHER WILSON

FORMER Hickey editor Christopher Wilson has revealed how he saved an important sculpture from being destroyed.

The work, Three Printers by Wilfred Dudeney, is a misnomer as it depicts an editor, a printer and a news boy. 

It originally stood in New Street Square outside the Westminster Press offices off Fleet Street but now graces the sunken Goldsmiths' Garden in Gresham Street.

Christopher wrote on Facebook: "This day 50 years ago I came to Fleet Street as a young reporter. In one of the back alleys I explored in the following weeks, I came across this sculpture by Wilfred Dudeney — as far as I know, the only public monument to us and our trade. 

"A dozen years ago, after the diaspora, it was in pieces in a builder's yard and destined for the crusher. I saved it, and since I never became an editor, I count it as my greatest journalistic achievement. 

“I wanted it to be re-sited in St Bride’s Churchyard but Goldsmiths' belatedly decided to claim ownership — even though until I said ‘ Oi!’ they were content to let it go to the crusher.

"They were the landlords of New Street Square but the sculpture was commissioned and paid for by Westminster Press [a now defunct local newspaper group].

“We compromised because Goldsmiths' offered to have it restored at considerable cost in return for it being placed in their garden.

“Anyway, like us, it’s still around!”

The Goldsmiths' Garden is on the site of the churchyard and medieval church of St John Zachary, which was damaged in the Great Fire. 

The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths had acquired land in 1339, and built the earliest recorded Livery Hall. After part of the Company's property was demolished in WWII, the site was first laid out as a garden in 1941, redesigned in later years. 

The former churchyard is to the west, a raised garden with a number of gravestones and trees. Steps lead down to the excavated site of the church, laid out as a sunken garden with lawn, hard surround and seating against the retaining wall. 

The Three Printers sculpture, dating from around 1957, relocated there in 2009.

Westminster Press was sold by parent company Pearson to Newsquest in 1996.

__________
WAUGH’S ADVICE TO EXPRESS REPORTERS

Slope off to the cinema, smoke a pipe … then make a story up

18WAUGH.jpg

TAKING IT EASY: Evelyn Waugh had sage advice for reporters 

EXPRESSMAN Geoffrey Mather, writing on his website about Brideshead Revisited, recalled an amusing anecdote about the book’s author Evelyn Waugh.

Quoting Waugh’s biographer Philip Eade he wrote: "Waugh spent several weeks ‘working' at the Daily Express. Having been fired in 1927 he gave advice to budding reporters.

"When assigned a story, 'the correct procedure is to jump to your feet, seize your hat and umbrella, and dart out of the office with every appearance of haste to the nearest cinema'.

"At the cinema the probationer was advised to sit and smoke a pipe and imagine what any relevant witnesses might say.

We on the Drone reckon this was an excellent policy which was followed 50 years later by eager Expressmen, although at that time pubs were more de rigueur than cinemas.

And the moral? Never take work too seriously.

__________

His name was Hawkey, Raymond Hawkey and he had designs on Bond and the Daily Express ...

raymond hawkey1.jpg

THRILLING THREE: Express design guru Raymond Hawkey, far right, with Len Deighton and Bond author Ian Fleming

RESEARCH by the Daily Drone has unearthed one of the forgotten stars of the Daily Express from the 1950s and 60s.

That man was Raymond Hawkey, design director of the paper from 1959 to 1964, who later designed acclaimed book jackets for Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels and Len Deighton’s thrillers.

Clive Irving wrote in The Guardian after Hawkey’s death aged 80 in 2010: "I was features editor of the Daily Express when Raymond Hawkey arrived at the paper, which was then at the height of its success in the late 1950s.

"It is hard to convey to those who work in the relatively sanitised newsrooms of the digital age the bawdy zoo that was the editorial floor of the Express. 

"Banks of cut-and-paste subeditors yelled commands to the copy runners, a single backbench of senior editors shouted at the subeditors, muscular reporters bargained for column inches, and in a far corner of the black glass building was a bear pit of competing claims for the severely rationed space in the ‘soft’ end of the paper.

"In this Fleet Street madhouse Hawkey, who was always impeccably barbered, confronted visual barbarians. His title of design director seemed optimistic, since there was a rigid template of typography and page layouts, imposed from on high, that nobody had the power to circumvent. 

"But Hawkey chose to work in discrete elements, combining feature headlines and simple, strong images in bold panels.

"His style, which later came to full expression in his wonderful book jackets, was the first and one of the most consequential if furtive steps in the long and too-slow advance of newspaper design that eventually culminated in the transformation of The Guardian in the late 1980s."

Hawkey was design director of the Daily Express from 1959 before he was appointed presentation director of The Observer in 1964 where he led the design of its colour magazine. He died in 2010 aged 80.

In 1962, Hawkey was chosen by Len Deighton to design the cover of his first novel The IPCRESS File, which some regard as the template for the covers of all subsequent airport novels. He went on to design covers for Deighton's books, including Horse Under Water, Funeral in Berlin and The Action Cookbook (where the IPCRESS revolver reappears, this time with a sprig of parsley in the barrel).

Hawkey designed covers for works by many other authors, including the Pan paperback editions of James Bond published from 1963-1969, which the Financial Times described as having "a stark elegance ... consistently menacing and memorable. Each has a single photographic image on a plain or textured background. Blurb is dispensed with. It's the visual equivalent of a cruel, sardonic smile.” 

A key element was Hawkey's bold use of lettering — the sans-serif James Bond wording is far larger than the book title or the author's name. 

james-bond-pan.jpg

__________

THE ETERNAL TRUTH

__________
EXPRESS CHIEF'S EXTRAORDINARY HOME MOVIE

Beaverbrook as you’ve never seen him 
before

THE Drone has uncovered an extraordinary home movie featuring Daily Express proprietor Lord Beaverbrook and the novelist H G Wells.

The silent film, filmed in 1924 at the peer’s home Cherkley, near Leatherhead, Surrey, takes the form of an amateur black comedy and also features the writer and feminist Rebecca West, who had a long affair with Wells and later reportedly with Beaverbrook. 

Beaverbrook, who died in 1964 and widowed in 1927, is pictured above wearing a top hat with some of the cast.

The film is fascinating also as a social document, revealing the mores of the time which are considered very politically incorrect today. 

You have been warned!

The film, entitled They Forgot to Read the Directions, runs for 20 minutes and there is no sound. 

Watch it here

.

__________
LEGENDARY EDITOR’S BULLETINS REVEALED

Christiansen Chronicles

new chris.jpg

THE editor most revered by Express men and women is Arthur Christiansen, even though it is doubtful if anyone alive today worked for him.

He died in 1963 but his name is still spoken of in hushed tones by many.

Christiansen became editor of the Daily Express in October, 1933, a position he held for 24 years until 1957, a longevity in office that has never been beaten. 

During his editorship, sales peaked at two million in 1936, more than three million in 1944, and four million in 1949. 

Each day he wrote a bulletin. It was compulsory reading for members of editorial staff. 

Christiansen also expected them to read the Daily Express from start to finish daily and in addition, one other newspaper. Heads of department were expected to be familiar with the content of all morning newspapers by the time of first conference (around 11am). 

Only one editor since Christiansen has attempted to write a daily bulletin. That man was Christopher Ward (1981-83). His attempts were widely ridiculed by staff who risked their jobs by posting rival bulletins in the display box outside the editor’s office in Fleet Street.

These cod bulletins are in the possession of the Daily Drone (don’t ask!)

The World’s Greatest Website is proud to be able to print the best of the Christiansen bulletins when he was in charge of the World’s Greatest Newspaper.

There will be a new one every day.

Read them here

TERRY MANNERS writes: "Dear Lord Drone, I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading the story of Editor Arthur Christiansen's famed bulletins. And examples too ... what  a magnificent piece of investigative Drone journalism. 

"I shall look at his original, cream bulletin case hanging in my study between the picture of Elvis and the Beatles with renewed fondness. I may even polish the glass. 

"Meanwhile, I rather think your public is also waiting to be entertained by extracts from the outstanding bulletins published in the box long after the great man's death. Will they ever be found? Get my drift?”

Drift received and understood — Ed

JEFF CONNOR writes: "You suggest that 'no-one who worked with him will still be alive'. Last I heard Michael Caine is still going strong and he appeared with Chris in the 1961 movie, The Day the Earth Caught Fire. 

"Chris played a hard-boiled national newspaper editor and the filming took place in the Express offices in Fleet Street. Michael was cast as 'Checkpoint Policeman (uncredited)' which is proof that everyone has to start somewhere! 

“Also, I know you were probably discussing the history of the Express, but in his spell at the Star Lloyd Turner also posted a daily bulletin, nominally a herogram but pretty unusual back then!”

Point taken! — Ed

*The 1961 movie The Day the Earth Caught Fire is available as a DVD on Amazon for £9.92. Details here

Christiansen.jpg

Christiansen playing ‘The Editor’ in The Day the Earth Caught Fire

bulletin board

RELIC: Christiansen’s bulletin board remained on the wall outside the editor’s office until the move to Blackfriars in 1989. It was rescued by Terry Manners and now adorns his study wall

__________

DAILY EXPRESS EDITOR CONFESSES

I TOOK COMMAND OF BRUTAL PAPER WITH
TORTURED HISTORY..
AND I COULDN’T SLEEP

29GARY JONES.jpg

HARD LABOUR: Gary Jones has toned down the racism

DAILY Express editor Gary Jones has proved himself to be part of a grand tradition — a square peg in a round hole.

He has confessed in an interview with The Guardian that he is a lifelong Socialist who believes that immigration has been good for Britain and that we should remain in the European Union.

In other words his personal beliefs do not match those of his newspaper. There is nothing new here — the Express has been edited by an eclectic assortment of characters.

Does that make Jones the wrong man to edit the Right-wing Brexit-supporting Express? Not a bit.

It has never been a requirement of the job for the editor to be a Tory. Bob Edwards, who edited the Express twice, certainly wasn’t and Lord Beaverbrook once hired Left-winger Michael Foot for the Evening Standard.

Lord Drone, before his ennoblement, spent 32 years on the Express and served under 12 editors. Only three of those were worth their salt — Lord Drone's old chum Chris Williams, Derek Jameson, who was the only one to actually increase circulation, and Sir Larry Lamb, who could have been even better if he had shown more enthusiasm.

The other nine editors are mostly too awful to mention.

So can Jones make a success of it? Who knows. But if things go on as they are with circulation tumbling (see below) he could be the last to hold the top job on this once-great newspaper.

Read the Guardian piece here

__________

HOW CUB REPORTER DEVNEY GOT HIS OWN BACK ON THE BIGWIGS

FARAGE.mp4

Industrial editor Barrie Devney at his desk in the Daily Express offices in Fleet Street on 9th March 1969

          Picture: Norman Quicke/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

DAVID THOMPSON, former Chief Parliamentary Correspondent of the Daily Mirror, has a great anecdote about his days as a trainee reporter on the Mansfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield Reporter with his friend and rival Barrie Devney, who worked for the opposition.

The most boring job they had to do was to collect the names of mourners at funerals but often the earnest young reporters were arrogantly waved away by the town’s bigwigs.

One day Barrie, who went on to become the respected Industrial Editor of the Daily Express, got his own back.

Devney’s revenge

__________

Lament for the death of the gossip column

2CLOCK CHANGE.MP4

TEA FOR ONE: Writer David Lister contemplates another slice of cake at Cliveden,1999  Picture: ©The Independent

DAVID LISTER, a writer and columnist for The Independent, has written a masterly account of the slow demise of the Fleet Street diarist, including the death and resurrection of the William Hickey column in the Daily Express.

The rise and fall of the Fleet Street diarist

__________

To Russia with booze and a spare bath plug

soviet.jpeg

Ian Benfield dies at 84

Lord Drone is personally greatly saddened to report the death of his good friend Ian ‘Bunter’ Benfield at the age of 84. 

Ian had been suffering from vascular dementia for two years, as as his son Guy reports below in The Journalist.

Bunter was a top news sub-editor on the Daily Express for many years where his agreeable nature and good humour made him a popular and valued member of staff. 

He was never happier than when he was drinking beer in the pub with his colleagues. 

Ian died last December but news of his death has only just reached Drone Towers. His funeral was in January.

DICK DISMORE remembers:
Bunter, the man who subbed the Yorkshire Ripper trial single-handed — and the Printer didn’t bother setting the running copy. This was much to the consternation of the Night Editor, one K. MacKenzie, who monstered the culprit so badly he had to buy him a bottle of whisky to ensure publication of the next day’s paper.  

And Bunter just kept subbing and let it all wash over him. Happy days.

*Ian's brother, Derek Benfield, pictured above, was an actor, best known for his role as transport company foreman Bill Riley in the TV series The Brothers.

14bunter.jpeg

FLEET STREET PUB BY CANDLELIGHT, 1988

GREAT TIMES: The Observer has republished a fascinating piece about Fleet Street watering holes written at the time the paper left for new pastures in 1988. The picture shows the conviviality continuing despite a power cut.

READ IT HERE

___________ 

CARTOON EXTRA

BILL TIDY

newspaper.office.jpg

Lower Thames Street 1905

LWR THMS ST 1905.png

As the Daily and Sunday Express news operation prepares to leave its Lower Thames Street offices in London for Canary Wharf here’s a pic of the road in 1905. 

Lower Thames Street is just as busy then as now as carts queue to collect fish from Billingsgate Market on the left. This scene looks west with the spire of St Magnus the Martyr Church, which still nestles next to London Bridge, visible in the distance.

LTS.png

Lower Thames Street today with the old Billingsgate Market building on the left. The Express building is the grey structure further up

__________

Craig parties with Fleet Street royalty on his 70th

Craig2.jpg

Just a few of Craig's editor pals: From left, Eve Pollard, Sir Nicholas Lloyd, Wendy Henry, Craig MacKenzie, his brother Kelvin, Judy McGuire and Piers Morgan  

By TONY BOULLEMIER

Tabloid royalty turned out in force for Craig MacKenzie's 70th birthday bash.

Ex-editors and many others from across the newspaper spectrum descended on the party in Weybridge, Surrey.

Craig started as a sub on the Daily Express and went on to become deputy editor of the Daily and Sunday Express. He also edited titles for the Murdoch and Mirror groups.

He thanked guests who had made him welcome when he first arrived in Fleet Street.

Presenting him with a spoof Sun Page One, Piers Morgan paid tribute to his incredible loyalty. 

He said whenever he had problems, Craig would be in the trenches alongside him. 

Piers described him as "mad funny" and said he loved Craig's passion for life and work.

He added: "All the MacKenzies are like that. Everything at 100mph." 

___________

Spot the Expressman

28chinery luton news.jpg

FOUND HIM YET? Look closely and you will see Terry Chinery hard at work on the Luton News back in the 1970s. Terry, first left, went on to greater things and became Night News Editor on the Daily Express. And yes, that dagger in the foreground is his, we are reliably informed.

__________

CHAPMANS PARTING SHOT AS HE QUITS THE EXPRESS
Private Eye reports:

Veteran Daily Express hack John Chapman, who refers to himself as a “Fleet Street survivor” having stuck with the paper through its Desmond doldrums and on to the new Mirror-managed era, left last month with an old-school retirement party at El Vino.
He had an admirable valedictory message for his assembled colleagues: “I have witnessed the slow, sad decline of a once-great newspaper … but I was earning an old-style Fleet Street salary so I don’t give a fuck.”

__________

MARTIN HOLDS COURT

Townsend.jpeg

Sunday Express editor Martin Townsend, left,  holds a riverside conference with deputy editor Dick Dismore, right, and Andy Hoban at the Lower Thames Street offices in London some time in the mid-Noughties.

__________
TYPICAL SCENE AT STAMMIES

11stammies.jpeg

Stamfords Wine Bar was the favoured watering hole for Daily Express journalists in the 1990s and early Noughties, mainly because it was but a short lurch from the Blackfriars offices. 

Pictured among an impressive array of empty beer and wine bottles are the usual suspects … picture editor Chris Djukanovic, editor Chris Williams, backbencher Nick Dalton and sub Sheila Molloy.

…. AND HERE’S ANOTHER

mike stammies 2.jpeg

STAMMIES again in a snap provided by MIKE HUGHES, who is on the far left. Also pictured are Chris Williams, John Twomey, personal finance writer Jessica Bown, and Luke Felton, who is sadly no longer with us.

__________

ONLY HERE FOR THE LEER

WHO'S that woman with Expressman Ashley Walton? And why does he have that devilish look on his face? 

We do not know … but we think we should be told.

This picture of Margaret Thatcher with the Drone’s chief reporter comes from the BBC TV programme Icons.   

Walton explained yesterday: 'The shot was taken somewhere in the UK during Mrs Thatcher's first election campaign in 1979 before she became Prime Minister. 

'I covered the whole three weeks of the campaign travelling the length of the UK and having a great time. It was certainly the most gruelling three weeks of my life. Where did all that hair come from? Mine not hers.'

He added: 'Now I know what it feels like to be a legend in my own lunchtime.’

__________

YOUR STARTER FOR 10 PINTS

Guess who trousered the redundo jackpot?

1wheelbarrow 01.JPG

All three of them! 

This charming study of Daily Express features subs Norman ‘Normal' Cox, Dave ‘Squiffy’ Searby and Mike ‘Trouser’ Snaith shows them at a lunch to celebrate their redundancy in the 1980s.

Yes folks, thanks to excellent contracts, journalists once rejoiced in getting the sack, as JEFF BOYLE explains in the …

The Great Golden Wheelbarrow lunch

__________

I had that Tim Shipman in the back of the cab ...

3taxi.jpeg

You know the feeling, you’ve had an enjoyably heavy lunch and then, in the cab back to the office, the news desk calls, jolting you back to reality.

This was Sunday Express politico Tim Shipman back in the day, trying to sound lucid after a liquid lunch at the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping, London. An amused Andy Hoban looks on.

______________

Muldoon’s Lookalike

30LOOKALIKE.jpg

                     ESSEX                                     McINTYRE

By S MULDOON (trainee)

Can it be? Surely not. How is it that the world has only just noticed that the acting-singing heart-throb David Essex and our very own Drone clan chief Lord Bingo McIntyre of that Ilk bear more than a superficial passing resemblance? They’re not related of course: one’s quite high born, actually and the other is, at best, of artisan stock. 

Essex, OBE, a man of undistinguished looks, has made good through his showbiz talent. He almost became a professional footballer, though and was on West Ham’s books as a lad. He famously refused to answer a single question in his 11-plus so that he could attend a local secondary modern renowned for its footie prowess.

Lord B, the better looking of the two, comes from an ancient Highland clan (war cry: Flodden the bar!). The name McIntyre is from the Gaelic Mac an t-Saoir meaning son of the carpenter. The clan’s historic seat may have been Glen Noe in Argyll and Bute but it is now Walton-on-Thames, Surrey. The chief is in pretty good form considering he has been on a slippery slope (geddit?) for years.

I’ll get you for this, Muldoon — Ed 

__________

THE SLIPPERY SLOPER

TUPPY.jpeg

WHERE’S HE GONE? Jon Zackon tears his hair out as a thirsty Kipper Keeling slips out to the pub again

ONE of the great legends of the old Fleet Street Daily Express in the 1970s and 80s was Ted ‘Kipper’ Keeling who, although an excellent news sub-editor, was mostly noted for his ability to slope off to the pub in a cloud of cannabis fumes without the Chief Sub noticing.

Reading on the Drone of Kipper’s exploits, former sub Nick Pigott climbed into his loft to retrieve this sketch he drew at the time of Assistant Chief Sub Jon Zackon tearing his hair out as his nemesis slipped out to the pub.

The original story is here:

The Grey Ghost, Forgotten Hero of the Lopés Cup

__________

Daily Express news subs 1960s

DX NEWSROOM.jpeg

This snap, provided by David Eliades, shows the Express newsroom in London some time in the early 1960s. 

In the foreground is foreign sub Jack Atkinson and next to him in his customary white shirt is splash sub Peter Hedley. The man to Hedley’s left on the middle bench is Ted Hodgson who later became night editor.

Opposite Jack is Ken Macaulay and next to him is Ralph Mineards. 

The man seated under the pillar in the white shirt and dark tie, is Eric Price. This would date the pic as before 1962 as Price left the Express that year to join the Western Daily Press in Bristol.

The backbench is the long desk on the left, second left is Bob Edwards, (the only man to be made editor of the Express twice) next to him is Eric Raybould and Morris Benett.

Thanks to TONY BOULLEMIER  and ROGER WATKINS for help with this caption.

RICK McNEILL reports:  I would date the picture pre-1965, before I joined. I recognise those you mention but others are unknown to me. 

I think the man in the far right background, on the telephone, is picture supremo Frank Spooner and the man seated looking up at him Jim Nicholl. I seem to recall the picture desk and foreign desk shared the same space around then. 

Facing Ted Hodgson is Welshman Harold Jones wearing his signature cardigan, look you. Apart from Morris and Raybould the Backbench is populated by strangers. I’d love to know who they are!

ALAN HILL, Chief City Sub from 1968 to 1996, who identified Bob Edwards, recalls: Bob gave me my job on the Express City staff. When I arrived, six weeks later, he had gone … again!

I believe he sacked Frank Spooner in the morning. Frank’s staff took him for a long lunch and when he returned to clear his desk … Bobbity had been sacked himself.  Frank continued as Picture Editor for years.

Click pic to enlarge

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

SIR — How nice to see a photograph of my late father, Ralph Mineards, deputy father of the Daily Express chapel, in your illustrious organ.

When he retired in 1979, getting the honor of being "banged out" by the printers, he estimated he had travelled more than a million miles commuting from his Northampton home to London Euston, whiling away his hour-long ride doing the Times crossword.

I always remember him telling me that when he sat on the committee that helped launch the Daily Star, its audience was considered "the Millwall supporter who rolls his own cigarettes”.

An extremely capable journalist and wonderful father.

I followed in his footsteps as an Express trainee on the Falmouth Packet, where my colleagues included Nick Coleridge, now the head of Conde Nast UK, before joining Paul Callan's Inside World on the Mirror and then moving to Nigel Dempster's Diary on the Mail, leaving for the U.S. as an editor on New York Magazine, eventually becoming an anchor for CBS and a commentator on ABC News.

I have now lived in Santa Barbara for 11 years, where I write a weekly column for the Montecito Journal.

RICHARD MINEARDS

__________

GOOD MOURNING AND GOOD NIGHT, WILLIAM HICKEY

hickey girlsx.jpeg

They look glum but these Daily Express women were in fact putting on an act. They were actually having fun, mourning the death of the paper’s William Hickey gossip column. 

Back in 1987, the Express decided to replace the long-dead diarist with a real person in the shape of Ross Benson. Fleet Street gossip columnists led by the Daily Mail’s Nigel Dempster held a mock funeral for Hickey whose  name was revived following Benson’s death. 

This picture is supplied by Kim Willsher, second left, with Louise Court on her right.

The day they buried Hickey

The rise and fall of the Fleet Street diarist

__________

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

SIR — On a flying visit to London recently I took my family for dinner at the new Joe Allen, fondly expecting to wallow nostalgically in its uniquely cool and quietly clubbable atmosphere.

Imagine my surprise (as they say) to find myself in a overcrowded characterless bistro full of shouting tourists off the street and an expensive menu with little to remind me of its bygone Exeter Street heyday. Even the signature cheesecake tasted like Tesco’s!

Perhaps you chaps have a different perspective at your regular get-togethers there. Probably it’s the company not the place? Maybe also night times are a no-no. Too close to the Strand.

You know what they say . . . never go back.

Greetings to all Express Persons of Good Standing!

 RICK McNEILL

__________

Tweet of the Year

TWEET OF YEAR.jpeg

Reflections on Cummings, a great Express cartoonist

cartoon.jpg

__________

They way we were

trumpkavanaugh.mp4

Production editor Bob Smith, left, and artist Fred Boyce inspect the first edition of the Daily Express at the Blackfriars offices in the 1990s

__________

It’s the Duke, caught on camera in the 1970s

standard newsroom.jpg

There’s a few familiar faces in this pic of the London Evening Standard backbench in, at a guess, the 1970s. In the background gazing into the middle distance is Chris ‘Duke’ Djukanovic, later to become picture editor of the Daily Express. 

Seated on the right is Charles Wintour, famed editor of the Standard, and next to him in the striped shirt is Roy Wright, who later became the editor of the Daily Express before disappearing without trace.

PETER STEWARD has filled in the gaps. He writes:

I believe the picture was taken before I joined the Standard (in the long hot summer of 1976) and for some reason I think it was a pre-Budget meeting. At that time the Evening Standard was part of the Beaverbrook empire and housed in Shoe Lane.

As you say, to the left of Charles Wintour is Roy Wright who returned to the Standard while I was there. I think he was deputy editor when Simon Jenkins was fired and Wintour returned for a short time before Lou Kirby arrived and Associated took half a share in the paper.

Seated centre is Bill Sharp, the splash sub.The chap back left in beard and specs is Cyril Raper, who enjoyed a White Shield Worthington. I think he was once chief sub, but during my time there he was like an executive revise sub. 

In those days subs sent copy direct to the printers below via a conveyor belt down the middle of the desk and a hole in the floor. The first opportunity to get it revised was when galley proofs arrived upstairs or when the stone sub got a chance to read it.

On the left is the legendary political editor Bob Carvel (with pipe) and Michael King.

Perhaps the person furthest right could be David Henshall.

I left the Standard on December 29 1983 after being kidnapped in the Poppinjay by the sweet-talking Terry Manners. I was working a five-day week as the Standard's chief sub at the time but Terry held out the prospect of a four-night week for more money. 

Six months later Mr Manners showed me the way to the escape tunnel (or perhaps he regretted tempting me in the first place) and I left to join the Sunday Express under that dynamic liberal editor Sir John Junor.

Click pic for larger image

__________

The faces look familiar to anyone who was on the Daily Express in the 1970s and 80s. But who are these two youngsters? The answers are here

_____________

Hold the front stage! It’s Christiansen the film star

christiansen.jpg

1961: Legendary Daily Express editor Arthur Christiansen demonstrates that as an actor he was a very fine journalist playing himself in the cult sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Caught Fire. 

Chris, pictured with Edward Judd who played a maverick reporter (aren’t they all? — Ed), spent most of the time spouting lines like: “Hold the front page!” and “Make it sing and make it a song I like,” (or was that another legendary Daily Express editor?) 

The film was based on the Express in its heyday and many shots were filmed in the office and Fleet Street. Behind the scenes there was also rumoured to have been a piquant play within a play starring an Express executive (still there in the seventies) and the luscious female lead Janet Munro, who, after a hard day’s filming, were encountered discussing bold intros and splash heads in the lane behind the Old Bell (mem to Night Lawyer Cocklecarrot: It’s OK: they’re both dead now)

MULDOON

__________

We think this may be a pic of the Express subs

but could it be the Mail?

dx subs1950s.jpg
Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 15.51.07.png

This fascinating pic of sub-editors in, at a guess, the 1950s has been taken from the website of Hugh Dawson, who was chief sub and production editor of the Daily Mail for more than 40 years. Hugh, pictured right, died aged 73 on 24 June after a long fight against motor neurone disease. He started in journalism on the sports desk of The Journal, Newcastle, in 1962 and left the Daily Mail in 2010. He also worked on the Hemel Hempstead Post and Echo.

Hugh identified the picture as of the Daily Express. That being the case, we think the man on the far right of the pic is Dan McDonald.

But Rick McNeill, who joined the DX news subs in the 1960s, thinks the picture may be of the Daily Mail newsroom. He said: "Inspecting your fascinating DX subs picture with my Sherlock Holmes © Magnifying Glass, I think the man you ID as Dan McDonald is cutting a copy of the Daily Mail. See masthead. Which leads me to suppose that (a) it is not Dan McDonald but a lookalike, and (b) this is a pic of Daily Mail subs. Did Dan ever work for the Mail?

"Also the room, windows, ceiling lights and clock on the pillar are wrong the Black Lubyanka subs’ room I joined in the mid-1960s looked nothing like this and was unchanged since at least before the war.

"Maybe the real mystery is why Hugh Dawson mistakenly identified the picture on his website? He was after all Mail chief sub for yonks.

"I’m happy to be proved wrong, however.

Chris Chalke, an Express news sub in the 1970s, wondered if the picture is in fact of the Daily Express in Manchester. Dan McDonald was a Scot so he could well have worked there before moving down to London.

Chris added: “The skull on the left opposite Dan McDonald reminded me of Ted Hodgson.”

Roger Watkins has his doubts too. "I don’t think that’s the Daily Express. When I moved to Fleet Street from Manchester in the seventies the back bench was parallel to Fleet Street facing north (it later turned 180 degrees when it moved to be closer to the news desk).

"In Hugh’s picture there are windows behind the back bench. For that to be the Express they would have to be on the Shoe Lane wall (where the art desk and reporters were situated when we left the Lubyanka)

"Unlikely, especially when you consider there was a huge supporting pillar (by which the Manchester Desk sat) which would have been in the middle of the subs desk.

"I don’t know much about lookalikes but I think Rick’s right about Dan.”

Last night further forensic examination of the photo throws up more doubts. Could the pic date from the 1930s?

Rick said: "Since when did subs (Mail or Express) ever look so respectfully buttoned up with suits and ties and Ernest Bevin specs? Pre-war I reckon."

What do you think?

Tribute to a true gentleman

Hugh Dawson’s website

__________

The amazing life of Bain, a fantastic story well told

Book cover.jpeg

The idea of launching a public relations company in a desert country where they’d never heard of PR, especially when you couldn’t speak the language and had no experience in that business, might  seem more like insanity than entrepreneurial vision. But that’s exactly what former Express sub IAN BAIN did in the United Arab Emirates.

After an understandably shaky start, he built it into one of the biggest consultancies of its kind in the Middle East with clients that included General Motors, Airbus, Intel, Samsung, Emirates Airline and many others. 

At the time, Ian was well used to risk-taking, having been a reporter, a merchant seaman, a big-time booze smuggler in India, and Buenos Aires correspondent of the Express and The Economist — all before the age of 24. 

How he achieved success without the benefit of an education (he attended nine schools in 10 years and was thrown out at the age of 15 without a single exam pass) is beautifully described in his memoirs, Singing in the Lifeboat, available on Amazon.

Amid a multitude of other adventures, the book relates how Ian battled alcoholism, checking himself into a psychiatric clinic in Dubai where he was shocked to find patients handcuffed to the water pipes, and guards with batons. “It wasn’t the kind of rehab I’d had in mind,” he said.

"I'm grateful to a few of my old Express colleagues who read the manuscript and produced some lovely words for the covers," he added. 

"Right now I'm trying to figure out how Amazon's sales charts work. With pre-orders alone, the book hit No 1 in UAE history and No 1 in motor rallying when these subjects are only loosely connected. Of course, that's only on one particular day but not everyone knows that.

Singing in the Lifeboat is available on Amazon for £8.99 

__________

DRONE PHOTONEWS

In remembrance of Bob

bob at monastery simat may 08 12.jpg

Bob McGowan was one of the great reporters on the Daily Express. Now, exclusively on the Drone, his widow Pauline has issued some pictures of our esteemed colleague, who died in 2011 aged just 67.

See the pics and read TERRY MANNERS’ tribute here

__________

Daily Star Sports Desk 1980

1star mcr08.jpg

Former Daily Star sub Jeff Connor, pictured front right, sent this snap of the paper’s Sports Desk in Manchester circa 1980 before they moved to new offices. 

Pictured, second left, is sports editor Arthur Lamb, to his left is deputy sports editor Gordon ‘Geordie’ Burnett (long departed), the secretary was named Sue. In the background between Gordon and Jeff is the backbench with deputy night editor Chris Davis, later Royston Davis, who went to The Sun, and leaning over him is copy editor Mike Hughes. 

Next to Chris is night editor Andy (mine’s a Bell’s and a light ale) Carson, then Ian Pollock. On the extreme left is Jack Ronnie (probably). Also on the backbench is Robbie Addison.

To the left of Chris Davis is Ian Pollack and standing is a guy called Robbie who we think was deputy to editor Peter Grimsditch. Behind secretary Sue is the DS newsdesk. Thanks to Mike Hughes and John Edgley for help in identifications. 

Read Jeff Connor’s potted history of Ancoats from 1976 to 1988. ONLY ON THE DRONE!

__________

One in the Eye

eye title

No 103

Volume 15: 1986

THE history of the Daily and Sunday Express as told 30 years ago through the columns of Private Eye (Lord Drone does not necessarily agree with the sentiments expressed although, from memory, they seem reasonably accurate.) 

New readers: The Eye referred to the Express as the Getsworse, the Getsmuchworse, or the Getsevenworse or sometimes even worse than that.

UPDATED 27 JANUARY

25 July 1986

Street of Shame

When an Englishman was sentenced to hang in Malaysia for drug-running, the Getsmuchworse swiftly dispatched ace newshound Norman Luck to cover the pleas for clemency, death-cell agony and grisly end. Unfortunately the grisly end took rather a long time coming.

Worried about the cost of this jaunt, the Getsmuchstingier’s news desk ordered the luckless Luck to return home. While he was in midair, though, it became clear that the editor, “Nick” Lloyd — who had not been told of Luck’s imminent return — wanted him to remain in Kuala Lumpur.

In panic, the news desk decided to keep the return of the prodigal wordsmith secret. As soon as he touched down on home soil he was whisked off to a hideaway and continued filing stories as if he was still in Malaysia.

Thus it was that a series of graphic eyewitness accounts of the days leading up to the hanging which appeared in the Express under the byline “from Norman Luck in Kuala Lumpur” actually came from no further afield than Tunbridge Wells where Luck was holed up in a luxurious flat while involved in discussions of a Malaysian nature.

19 September 1986

Street of Shame

Just as United boss David Stevens removes one source of sleaziness, Roger Boyes, so another pops up. Fleet Street's most repulsive yob Ray Mills, now has a column in the Star. 

Eye readers will remember Mills from issue 635, in which his habit of peeing in office wastepaper baskets, to the distress of cleaners, was disclosed. Mills’s new column is the journalistic equivalent of peeing in public.

At the Star he is known to one and all as BIFFO — Big Ignorant Fucker From Oldham.

The most recent Mills story involves his teenage son who, trying to please the elderly delinquent, baked him a birthday cake. Mills threw the cake at the lad’s head, shouting: “Are you a queer or something?”

3 October 1986

Street of Shame

When word was brought to dynamic Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie that Pat Phoenix was dead, his reaction was swift. “Get Doris Stokes [a clairvoyant] on the phone,” he screamed at a subordinate. “I want the first interview from the other side.”

A few minutes later the trembling subordinate reported back. La Stokes said that it took some time for for the spirit to move from earthly form. Even with her talents she could not yet make contact with the departed star.

“Well tell her to make it up,” shrieked MacFrenzie.

14 November 1986

“Hindley Freedom Move” screamed the Daily Getsmuchworse on Monday, labelling the story as “exclusive”. Its gullible readers were informed that Myra Hindley was to be sent to an open prison, and there were assorted quotes expressing the appropriate shock horror.

The Home Office denied the story as being untrue, for a very good reason — it was.

Step forward yet again Mr Michael Rocco Ryan who, posing as a prison nurse on escort duty, conned the gullible hacks. They can, however, almost be forgiven — for Rocky has become more sophisticated in the last twelve months. He has a fun-loving female accomplice who leads the hacks into his traps.

28 November 1986

Blood is running in the gutters at the Sunday Express, following the takeover by new Editor Robin Esser and his personally-appointed deputy Brian Hitchen.

Assistant Editor James Kinlay, once touted as the next editor, finishes at the end of the month. Photo editor John Dove has been given his cards and finishes up at the same time. Foreign editor Terry Foley returned from sick leave to be told he was no longer needed and has moved out of his office.

The latest office notice board announcement is the demotion of News Editor Michael Dove to reporter, apparently for his remark in the Poppinjay pub: “Brian Hitchen wouldn’t know a news story if it was shoved up his nose. He’s a beer-bellied idiot.”

“Inspector” Michael Watts has been axed after 27 years on the paper after telling Esser: “You can’t change the character of my column, old boy. I won’t stand for it.”

Travel editor Lewis de Fries has been chopped and now the Esser/Hitchen Punch and Judy act have turned their sights on Features Editor Max “Fuhrer” Davidson because of his continual complaining within the office: “All I get are inane features from Esser’s talentless Yuppie friends and Hitchen’s old drunken American-based cohorts.”

Assistant editor Ted Dickinson has been told to leave because when Esser tried to get back on the Daily Express after the closure of the Evening News he wrote a memo, still on file, reading: “On no account should Esser be given a job. He’s a total incompetent.”

Assistant editor Henry Macrory has been demoted to News Editor and one of his deputies, Ted Gartell, leaves at the end of November after being axed. Political editor Keith Renshaw has volunteered for early retirement at Christmas.

So of all departmental heads, that leaves just Diary Editor Lady Olga Maitland. The terrible duo backed off at the last minute when she befriended and started lunching with Lady Stevens, wife of Express supremo Sir David Stevens. Now she’s organising a counter-plot, jabbing her poison pen into the backs of her would-be executioners.

But that has not stopped Punch and Judy from targeting their next victim: the great Sir John Junor himself, who keeps bad-mouthing Esser and Hitchen to his spies still on the Sunday Express.

*****

The Daily Express, it seems, is still under the impression that its rightful owners are the Beaverbrooks. Lady Beaver has recently taken to ringing the paper’s executives to complain of items she finds “offensive” or “anti-Tory”, to wit one poor hack’s reference to “booze and fags”.

The hack was summoned to Deputy Editor Leith McGrumble’s office and told to empty his desk and collect his cards. As stunned as were his building society and family, the minion duly complied, but first informed the Father of the Chapel. A ruckus ensued between various heads of department and, 24 hours later, the hack was reinstated. Later he was told that he had also been guilty of anti-Tory sentiments and had better keep his nose clean (ie brown) in the future.

Lady Beaverbrook is 94.

Christmas issue

Letters to the Editor

Bloodless…

Sir,

Less blood has flowed on the Sunday Express than you claim. Only one member of the News Desk is leaving the paper, entirely of his own volition. The only change in my own position is that my duties have been expanded.

Yours unanaemically, 
HENRY MACRORY

Assistant Editor,
Sunday Express 

121 Fleet Street, London


Coo

Sir,

Your piece about me (Eye 651) is wrong in every detail.

I was not demoted from News Editor. I came off the desk in order to write for the new lively Sunday Express. It was entirely my idea and the move was approved by the editor.

Neither have I ever criticised Brian Hitchen in the Poppinjay or anywhere else. The remarks you attributed to me are a complete fabrication.

Your article was untrue and highly defamatory. I thought you had learned your lesson about checking facts after your recent High Court experience. 

Kindly publish this letter. I know better than to expect an apology from you.

MICHAEL DOVE

Senior Reporter

Sunday Express

121 Fleet Street, London

THAT’S IT FOR 1986

MORE FROM 1986

ONE IN THE EYE 1985

ONE IN THE EYE 1984

ONE IN THE EYE 1983

ONE IN THE EYE 1982

ONE IN THE EYE 1981

ONE IN THE EYE 1980

ONE IN THE EYE 1979

ONE IN THE EYE 1978

ONE IN THE EYE 1977

ONE IN THE EYE 1976

ONE IN THE EYE 1975

ONE IN THE EYE 1974

ONE IN THE EYE 1973

ONE IN THE EYE 1972

ONE IN THE EYE 1966-1971

SPOOF FRONT PAGE FROM 1965

__________

Who put the lights out?

Dxblackout

NOTHING stopped the Daily Express in 1972, not even the miners’ strike. It was the year of constant power cuts instigated by Prime Minister Edward Heath to cope with the lack of coal to fuel the power stations. And as the clock hit 4.14 on a winter's afternoon the Express news sub-editors slaved away by gaslight. Lord Drone recalls that the gas lamps on the ceiling were still there when the Fleet Street office was vacated in 1989. 
Who’s in the picture? We put a few names to faces HERE

___________

DroneTube Exclusive

Life After The Front Page

This rare and previously largely unseen film, unearthed in the annals of Lord Drone, recalls the grand old days of Fleet Street. It includes interviews with Ann Buchanan, of The Sun and Daily Mirror; Clem Jones, from the Wolverhampton Express; Eric Todd of the Manchester Evening Chronicle and The Guardian; and George Bell and Ted Townshend of the Daily Telegraph. 

The film, which was made by students of Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 1999, also includes someone called Alastair McIntyre (who he – Ed?) who addresses the public from the Daily Express offices in Blackfriars. 

Runtime is 16 minutes.

___________

[[RAW HTML]]
© 2005-2019 Alastair McIntyre