Her Majesty’s


Weather: Sunny, max 11C, min 0C





 You have to be 100 per cent behind someone before you can stab them in the back
— David Brent in The Office


Today's papers


Martin Rowson, Grauniad


Lookalike (up to a point)


                   HILLS                                   DOWDEN

Heaven forfend that these two should appear in an interview situation on the telly. Which is which, puzzled viewers would wail. One is flaxen-haired, excitable Joel Hills, Business Editor at ITV News; the other is flaxen-haired, excitable Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Both, it must be conceded, have a Pictish look.

Hills, a Business Administration grad, formerly worked at Sky and is known as a good, hardworking operator. He caused a Twitter flurry last year when he appeared on News at 10 wearing, ahem, grey nail varnish. Asked whether he was victim of bored kids at home, he replied: Rumbled! 

Dowden, a former David Cameron henchman, is a state-educated Cambridge law graduate. His career as ‘Minister of Fun’ received an early setback. Appointed in February, 2020, he has presided over a year of lockdowns and restrictions which haven’t been fun at all. 

Now, though, he is urging people to get out and enjoy ‘a great British summer of sport’. But with the R rate said to be nudging 1 again, we’ll see.

AN R.R. (t)
Picture research Reckless Rambleshanks, intern. (You’re fired — Ed)


Just in case you haven’t seen a pic of You Know Who lately, here’s one Steve Wood took earlier

The last picture Steve took of You Know Who


After that sex survey Reach title helps you find a dogging spot (with a helpful illustration ...)

From Somerset Live
Meanwhile back at HQ

Barmy bosses want to know workers' sexual preferences

THE Daily Drone’s spies have unearthed an extraordinary document sent to staff by the management of Reach, publisher of the Express and Mirror titles.

The survey, which asks employees details of their sexual preferences, was sent to us by an informer who writes under a pseudonym …

 Sir — I now have categorical proof that the ludicrously named Reach — and the world in general — has finally gone mad. Oooh, I’ve come over all Alan Duncan ...

This is a survey sent by Reach to all (few remaining) employees earlier this year. Apart from the obvious question Why, who knows what all these definitions mean? 

Is biromantic really bi-romantic or does it signify an imaginative use of a Bic? Best of all is Other, what Other? Surely there are no further options. 

In our day on the Express you were either gagging for it or, to quote Bogbrush, ‘You fuckin shirt lifter.’

For the record, I am Dronosexual.

Little Todger,



Pip pip, Pip


THE GAFFER: Prince Philip, who has died aged 99

THE nation is in mourning following the death of  the man who once called the Daily Express a “bloody awful newspaper”.

The paper wore the badge with pride and put Prince Philip's 1962 quote on its front page the following day.

Former foreign editor DAVID RICHARDSON reports: Unless my memory fails me, the DX was the only national that did not carry the Duke of Edinburgh’s “slitty eyes” Chinese gaffe.

Royal reporter Ashley Walton, in Beijing, had filed the story along with every other member of the hack pack.

But ... Bernard Shrimsley was acting editor that day and said he didn’t believe a word of it even when I explained it had been overheard by many and others were using the story.

He refused to be swayed and our first edition certainly did not carry it while it was the splash in our rivals.

Ashley threatened to resign that day. I can’t remember if he did.

ASHLEY WALTON responds: Bernard Shrimsley did it to me again later over an incident during the annual Royal skiing jaunt to Klosters. The Duchess of York and the Princess of Wales playfully tried to push each other over in the snow as they posed for photos. 

It made nice copy, but again Bernard decided it wasn't true. He had to rapidly change his mind when he saw the incident on TV at 6 and Page One and Three had to be redesigned.  

Bernard apologised to me when I returned to the office the following week. I never considered resigning over either incident as it was Bernard who had looked foolish. I could never have threatened to resign from China where the only communication to the Foreign Desk was by Telex.  Phone calls were impossible from China in those days and I can't envisage me sending an angry "I quit!" tape through the Chinese post service.

God knows what went on in Bernard's mind if he thought that Royal reporters just simply made things up.




A trip to Turkey that changed Fleet Street  veteran George’s life

GEORGE DEARSLEY, veteran of the Parish of Fleet Street, was one of  three Oxford graduates who embarked on a trip round the world in 1972. 

Their tour took in Turkey and the experience changed his life. After a series of holidays there George and his wife Carolyn decided they liked it so much they moved there permanently.

The result is a very readable memoir which details the crazy incidents which kept drawing them back. They include being arrested as a spy, watching a man swallow a snake, judging a beauty contest, being given a front row seat at a circumcision and seeing Turkey’s most famous criminal crash his sea plane.

George has worked as a staff reporter for Daily Mail, Daily Star and Sunday Times and for all the others as a freelance.

His book Twelve Camels For Your Wife: An Englishman's Lifelong Love Affair With Turkey is availble on Amazon.




The Gaffer Tapes


Willie Wombat

Wombat is a taciturn, tell-it-as-it-is, take-no-prisoners rugby coach who taciturnly tells it as it is, takes no prisoners and coaches rugby. He has had varied and inconsistent results in charge of the England rugby team which regularly under-achieves on the world stage. Here, he reflects on a disappointing Six Nations, his hopes for the future and his ethos for winning rugby.

Playing fields of Eton? Fuck that! More like Savai’i Savisito College, Samoa. Now we’re drinking from the same billabong, mate. A coupla brick shithouses up front, maybe another at 13. Unlucky for some, eh? Specially those fancy damn frogs. Pain? We don’t feel it (but they do!) Aggression? That’s what it’s all about: in the scrum, at the breakdown and in the bar afterwards. Rugby on the fucking edge is what I call it. Penalty try? No worries. We’ll risk it to gain an advantage. My skipper needs to be in the ref’s ear with a bit of kidology trying to get decisions our way. Spin the ball wide, if you like; let the fairies dance down the wing. Me? I prefer a rolling maul crashing over between the posts with the opposition front row in tears. And if the blazers at HQ don’t like it, do you know what: they can do the other thing. Now pick the fucking bones out of that! G’day.



Low, the great wartime cartoonist whose work   enraged hated dictators

All Behind You, Winston

Evening Standard, 14 May 1940

Pen, ink & black crayon on board

This cartoon was drawn shortly after the resignation of Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister when the war was going badly for the Allies. It shows newly appointed Prime Minister Winston Churchill leading the new War Cabinet, who have all taken off their jackets and rolled up their sleeves to get down to the job of winning the war.

Born in New Zealand, David Low worked in his native country before migrating to Sydney in 1911, and ultimately to London (1919), where he made his career and earned fame for his Colonel Blimp depictions and his merciless satirising of the personalities and policies of German dictator Adolf Hitler, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, and other leaders of his times. 

His stinging depictions of Hitler and Mussolini led to his work being banned in Italy and Germany, and his being named in The Black Book.

Sir David Low died in 1963 aged 72.

Source: The Cartoon Museum




A young Katherine Whitehorn arrives at London’s Waterloo Station for her first day's work as a staff journalist in the capital.

Whitehorn would have been 28 when this classic picture by Bert Hardy was taken in around 1956. 

After graduation from Cambridge, she worked as a freelance in London, before moving to Finland to teach English and undertaking postgraduate studies at Cornell University.

Whitehorn’s first staff job was as a sub-editor on Woman’s Own magazine but she spent most of her career on The Observer where she found fame as a columnist.

She died aged 92 at a North London care home on 8 January 2021 after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.


I suffer from kleptomania. But I take something for it


Memory of reporter Phil lives on — in a quilt of his bow ties

IF there is some part of a foreign bedroom that is for ever Philip Finn … then this is it.

Phil, for many years the doyen of the Daily Express bureau in New York, was instantly recognisable by his bow ties. And this quilt is made up of dozens of them.

Former Express foreign editor David Richardson, who supplied the quilt pic, reported from his bolthole in the south of France:  "Sadly, like many others, Phil, pictured, was discarded by the DX long before his sell by date.

"On retirement he and his wife Annemarie moved to Aiken in South Carolina where golf and their dogs was their passion.

"Their home also became a mecca for Fleet Street golf hacks attending The Masters, about 30 miles down the road in Augusta.

"Cancer caught up with Phil a few years ago and Annemarie was left with memories and a  stash of bow ties. A friend has turned them into his remarkable quilt.

"Miss you Phil Finn Junior as he always announced himself. I never met Phil Finn Senior.

Philip Finn died in 2015 aged 79.





Dear Aunt Marje 

(still a trainee and still in dentures)

agony aunt.jpg

Aunt Marje (with apologies to that weird cross-dressing potter whose name we forget)

You’ve been framed

Dear Aunt Marje

I hope you can help me because I’m in a bit of a panic to be honest. You see, I find I’m in agreement with Labour’s Baroness Chakrabarti over vaccination passports. Is there a cure? Will I be all right?

Single Jab

Dear SJ, 

Oh, that sounds nasty. So much so that I consulted the Daily Drone medic, Dr Frame. Apparently, this is more common than you’d think, especially in some parts of North London. Calm down, take a deep breath and put your head between your knees.You should feel better soon. Dr Frame says that, normally, he would prescribe a vigorous rub down with a moist barmaid but you’ll have to wait for a vaccine passport to have that, won’t you?



Poor Porky’s now a shadow of himself

FORMER Daily Express news editor Mike Parry is at a loose end these days. 

He once had a (semi) glittering career on the radio but he made enemies, principally his old chum Mike Graham who hosts the mid-morning show on TalkRADIO. He now makes occasional appearances on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine show.

Consequently Porky has time on his hands and is reduced to publishing this on Twitter:

"OK FOLKS .. how about this .. an image of MOI .. Porkmeister .. relayed on to my Italian carpets made from the back-drop of the beautiful light of Stockbroker-Belt Surrey streaming into my working office at Porkmeister Towers .. 👍😁🍸"

Can no-one save poor Porky’s bacon?


Anyone speak Newt?
(It helps to be as pissed as one)


Look the business with your stylish Daily Drone


Escape lockdown looking swell! The Daily Drone has teamed up, by royal appointment, with H&M Fashions, of Montecito, California, to bring you their exclusive menswear range designed for the Alpha Male who combines style and panache. 

Embrace spring and summer as we leave COVID restrictions behind in these natty outfits for the office and the beach and check out these endorsements:

‘Wow! So stylish’ — T. Manners (Lincoln). ‘Just the thing for cathedral evensong’ — A. Walton (St. Albans). ‘Let me at ‘em’ —J. King (Chiswick).


History in Moments


Some stories don’t always fit the bill


THIS looks like sensational news on these bills from South Africa … but all is not what it seems.

RICK McNEILL uncovered these jolly posters from his time as tabloid guru on South Africa’s top-selling black newspaper the Daily Sun.

Rick said: ‘They were happy days spent tapping skills honed on the Daily Express. 

"The POPE referred to, you’ll be relieved to know, was not the prominent Vatican religious personage, but the rather better known local rap artist. 

"The MUM was denouncing evil spirits who had wronged her. What other possible wording? Great fun, of which there isn’t much around any more. You’re the last bastion of insouciance, m’lord.

Lord Drone commented last night: I once tried stopping my inbred insouciance but I really couldn’t be arsed.


Part 6. MacKenzie stirs the shit 

Ciao! Now that’s what I call music! Bijou little Frame Hampton’s comin’ out of lockdown, perkin’ up and suckin’ diesel, fella (as they say on Line of Duty). The kids are back at school (only they’re on holiday at the moment!) and it’s so lovely here in the heart of rural Wiltshire. 

The other day we sashayed over to Brierley Fulbright and wandered along the escarpment and through the woods by a sparkling stream to Potterne Parva. Just divine! The perennial Burnet Saxifrages were peeping through and I have high hopes for the Common Cat’s Ears later in the year. Back home, our lawn has burst into life: just as well we treated ourselves to a Hayter Harrier motor mower. That’s goodbye to the best part of £700 but Himself, who’s garnering funds quite nicely, thanks, insisted. And Lenny at B&Q says it’s money well spent. We’ll see.

The other morning a terrible pong hung over the village. For fuck’s sake, what is that, asks His Tedship in a bit of a tizz. A spot of sleuthing (Miss Marple’s got nothing on me) reveals it’s a MacKenzie Mark II Muckraker distributing something called slurry over Farmer McDonald’s big meadow the other side of the Mineards Memorial Scout hut. Ugggh!

One bonus of the improved weather and Boris’s Covid roadmap is that we’re able to see more of our neighbours (and bollocks to little Mattie Hancock, I say!) Next door, for example, is the Major, a genial old buffer with a fascinating back story (as Teddy likes to call it). He’s one of the Fortescue Pirbrights and an old ‘Africa hand’. 

As far as I can gather, he served in a weird special forces outfit called the Selous Scouts in UDI Rhodesia. Says that when ‘Johnnie Mugabe’ took power he decamped across the Limpopo to join the South African Defence Force but came home after ‘the De Klerk surrender’. Fascinating old cove, prone to dark hints about manoeuvres with the lads in Hereford. Not sure I believe him, though.

In other news, we saw the ecclesiastical gays, the Rev Prune and her ‘companion’, burly, moustachioed Sally the Sexton, on their tandem riding up Badger’s Mount. We’ve no time for them so, naturally, we blanked them. Useless fucking Herberts. Better news is that Farisha, daughter of the darling Sikhs at the village shop, has been accepted to read medicine at Oxford. Such a sweet child. Deserves to do well.


More from the Country Boys


Death of the newsroom

Actress Halle Berry visiting the Daily Express newsroom in 1986

CHRIS BLACKHURST, a former deputy editor of the Daily Express, has written a perceptive piece for the website Reaction on the demise of the newsroom.

Reach, publisher of the Express, Star and Mirror titles, has already announced that most staff will now work remotely from home and many newsrooms will close. This, says Blackhurst, marks another dip in the downward path of the newspaper.

And it marks the end of journalism as we know it.



What can the Express learn from Karl Marx, ask crazy consultants

THE lunatics really have taken over at the Daily Express madhouse.

As we have already reported, Reach, the renamed Trinity Mirror group which now owns the Express, is holding a “brand review” of the Express conducted by a consulting company. 

Now events have taken an even more bizarre turn.

The Guido Fawkes website reports that there has been a second round of consultations with a selected group including most of the senior staff of the Express.

The Exercise 7 consultancy company asked bemused Express hacks to evaluate a series of figures and brands with the questions:

What can we learn from these brands/leaders?

What is each one fighting for and against?

How can that apply to The Express?

One of the brands/leaders was Karl Marx. Perhaps they plan to replace the Crusader with Karl?

THE DRONE SAYS: Do these so-called experts know what the Express stands for? Answers on a postcard to the nearest wastepaper bin.



         BAMBER                 GRAINGER                CHURCHILL

So … It’s back by popular clamour, the Daily Drone Triplelike! This trio are separated by more than 70 years but are united by their fame and beauty. 

Holliday Grainger and Ellie Bamber seem never to be off our TV screens: Holliday made her name playing Lucrezia Borgia in Prime’s box set Popeathon, The Borgias and private eye Cormoran Strike’s girl friday. 

Ellie, most recently seen in the BBC1 Sunday night series The Serpent, starred as Cosette in the Beeb’s non musical version of Les Miserables and as Mandy Rice Davies (well she would, wouldn’t she?) in The Trial of Christine Keeler. Bonnie bints both, avers Proddie, inelegantly.

That’s as may be but neither, as yet, compares with the lustre of the third beauty. Pictured before the Second World War, she was known as Pamela Churchill (yes, them). Her stormy marriage to Winston’s dissolute son, Randolph, produced another Winston who, though an MP, spent most of his life trying to live up to the family name.

Our Pamela, who was born in Surrey, moved on and was always looking up. Indeed, she became, according to Max Hastings ‘a world expert on rich men’s bedroom ceilings’. She went to the States, took citizenship and became heavily involved with politics, marrying Democrat eminence grise, Averell Harriman. Not content with that, she made her own way in the party and eventually became Clinton’s ambassador to France. Formidable, indeed.

AN R.R. (t)

Picture research: Reckless Rambleshanks (intern)


Most Express and Mirror staff will now operate from home

LIFE as we knew it on the Express, Star and Mirror titles is well and truly over.

Bosses have told employees that 75 per cent of employees will work from home in the future.

The Times reported yesterday that the papers’ owner Reach is closing dozens of newspaper offices.

The company plans to reduce floor space at its headquarters in Canary Wharf, London, and shut newsrooms and offices throughout the country.

It has told staff they will not return to the office full time after Covid-19 restrictions are lifted. Only a quarter of its 4,000 employees will go to work every day. The remainder will split their time between home and the office or work remotely for good.

Reach, whose stable also includes the Daily Record, Manchester Evening News and OK! magazine, will retain 14 regional offices in cities such as Bristol, Leeds and Belfast.

A company spokesman said: “We carried out a survey of all colleagues that showed a majority found home working suited their needs.”


History in moments

1957: All aboard! Come on, now, move down inside please. And make sure you’re on the right bus because your eyes aren’t playing tricks: this is the London to Calcutta service. 

The inaugural trip started on April 15 and the bus rolled into Calcutta 50 days and 20,300 miles later after travelling through Belgium, West Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, and West Pakistan. Topically, it was delayed a couple of days when a border was closed because of the Asian Flu pandemic that year.

The service, also known as the Hippie Trail, wasn’t cheap at £85, seven times the average weekly wage. Mind you, all meals, bunks, fan heaters and music (presumably Ravi Shankar’s greatest hits) were provided. 

And it wasn’t all breakneck dashing between countries: shopping trips were scheduled in places such as Vienna, Istanbul and (yikes!) Kabul. Passengers overnighted in hotels, where there were any, or slept on the bus. Twenty people booked on the first trip and seven made the return journey at £65. Such fun, no?

AN RR (t)

Rosalie, dear, are you sure you haven’t made this up and stunted a photograph on PiccieFake? I’ll run it, though, and see if we get any letters — Ed


You couldn’t make it up! Woke fools want to ditch the Crusader

CALL for the men in white coats! The new woke owners of the Daily and Sunday Express want to #cancel the Crusader.

Reach, the renamed Trinity Mirror group which owns the Express, is holding a “brand review” of the title conducted by a consulting company. 

Express employees have been interviewed in pairs about their views on the paper and website. On a few occasions the interviewer announced himself as a North London Guardian reader, according to the Guido Fawkes website.

In a lot of the consultations employees were asked about the famous Crusader symbol and whether it should go. 

It’s not been a secret that the woke management of Reach hate the symbol almost as much as they hate the politics of the Express. It is an old management trick to get consultants in to blame for recommending a change you wanted to make anyway. It appears the Crusader could be axed from the title piece after 92 years.

This is part of a culture war in Reach and a war of attrition on the Express internally since it was bought up after the then Trinity Mirror assured then Culture Secretary Matt Hancock that they would not interfere in the politics of the Express.

So far they have launched a Guardian style green editorial campaign, quite a change in tone from the paper that started the mainstreaming of Brexit. According to an internal source they “initially stopped us from attacking BLM protests and statues being pulled down. Although after about a month we were allowed to”.

A senior figure tried to stop an online poll being published which showed about 80 per cent of Express readers supported Trump. The papers has softened its line on immigration and apologised to Muslim campaign groups for some headlines. Then there was the campaign to raise income tax by one penny.

A disgruntled source said: “The chief executive Jim Mullen sends round a weekly newsletter telling us how we need to support issues like BLM. He always praises the Mirror and Star but always ignores the Express unless we have done something very woke.

Mullen wrote during the BLM protests: “I’m hugely proud of the part our publications (and every single one of you) play in not only highlighting injustice and holding those in power to account, but also in celebrating our differences as well as our common humanity. Thank you to our teams for serving our communities by bringing them the news they want and need to hear about, and making it known that we stand with those speaking up and fighting injustice. Black lives matter and saying it matters.”

After this message the Express changed its editorial line on BLM to be nearly the same as the Mirror’s. 

History of the Crusader
The symbol was introduced to the Express by Lord Beaverbrook
. When he bought the paper in 1916, the titlepiece included the royal coat of arms. It remained until 1929 when Beaverbrook launched a campaign for free trade within the British Empire.

On 11 July 1929 Beaverbrook wrote the Express splash himself. "I have combined with the Daily Express," he declared, "to launch the Imperial Crusade.”

His motive was partly a wish to protect his native Canada from being annexed, in trade terms, by the United States and partly to push Stanley Baldwin out of the Tory leadership. The Crusader followed shortly afterwards.

In 1951, when Churchill had returned to power but given up on the Empire, Beaverbrook put the Crusader in chains.

Bob Edwards, Express editor from 1961, said he thought the Crusader was put in chains again when Britain was invited to join the Common Market.

*The Crusader was depicted holding a sword for decades. That changed when Richard Addis was appointed editor of the Express in the 1990s. Addis, a former monk, never liked the Crusader and considered changing it back to the coat of arms. In the end he changed the Crusader’s trusty sword to a spear apparently because it looked less aggressive. Not a lot of people know that — Ed.


Partner’s shock over Do Not Resuscitate order on Daily Express sub Nigel Griffiths


ORDEAL: Sue Reid with Nigel Griffiths

Sue Reid has written a moving account in the Daily Mail about the death of her partner Nigel Griffiths.

A former feature writer on the Daily Express, Sue tells of her shock when she discovered that the man she loved had been the subject of a Do Not Resucitate without her knowledge.

Nigel, a lovely man, spent much of his career on the Evening Standard where he rose to be assistant editor. He took early retirement in 2004 and later joined the Express. He died in May 2020 four months after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 68.

The Mail has the story (the picture caption wrongly names Nigel as ‘Richard’)

Press Gazette tribute to Nigel


Old Express hands will recognise the words in this headline. They were uttered nightly by middle-bencher par excellence David Laws when he was dishing out stories to recalcitrant subs. 

And guess who sent this in? Why no other but David himself who now writes novels rather than disturbing subs from the night time reveries.



Who’s the girl? Who’s the chap hiding behind the pile of paper? For that matter, who’s the artist?



Lord Drone cheered as he arrives at Cup Final, 1936

Er … Picture Desk, sorry chaps, but I’m not sure you've cropped this pic correctly — Ed



Is this the best pic we can find to illustrate this story? — Ed


Oprah Winfrey has been turned down for the role of history’s most feared and cruel inquisitor … because she is too tough.

The American TV legend, whose forensic and brutal questioning of Meghan and Harry has been viewed by more than 500 million worldwide, was in line to play Tomasina Torquemada in the all-female film Inquisition.

But producers feared the blockbuster would attract an 18 certificate hitting box office takings.

A studio spokesmen said: ‘The trouble with Oprah is that she’s just too scary. We’re hoping for a PG rating and she would frighten the kids.’

It is understood that the role is now between Allan Carr and Julian Clary.


Piers got ITV bullet after telling boss to fuck off


There's been speculation this week that Piers Morgan's big flounce on Good Morning Britain was actually a staged publicity stunt. 

While it's true that he's been telling friends for months he's had an offer from GB News (albeit one he's apparently reluctant to accept, as he's in talks to do a show he'd prefer elsewhere) his implosion was off-the-cuff enough to have caught quite a few people at ITV on the hop. 

Some of the channel's other flagship shows received instructions this week to remove Morgan from any upcoming VT packages he features in – including one that had been lined up for the weekend. 

Sources at ITV tell us that the unusually swift decision to let him go might have been slightly influenced by one of his bosses at ITV being told to fuck off.

*One person who'll be hoping Piers steers clear of GB News is Dan Wootton, former executive editor of The Sun. Dan was already known as "Poundland Piers" at NewsUK; a nickname he'll never shake off if Piers also ends up splitting his time between GB News and MailOnline.


Media Hits & Myths

An occasional series by SPIKE DIVER

Q. The late Sunday Express editor Sir John Junor regularly used the phrase ‘Pass the sickbag, Alice’ in his columns. What is its derivation? 

A. You don’t know but I think you should be told. Hah! Hah! Seriously, there are many fanciful theories such as it was the nasty disease Christopher Robin went down with. But, according to a note in the Grauniad in the mid 90s, written by someone called Roger Watkins, Alice was a real person, whom many at the Fleet Street Express will remember.

She was a small, bird-like grandmother with unconvincing blonde tresses who worked in what was laughingly called The Grill Room of the canteen. On Saturdays the Sunday Express hacks moved down to the Daily newsroom and had their one night living on the journalistic edge (Deadline Midnight, Hold the Front Page etc).

Naturally, they considered themselves far too important and vital cogs in the machine to be able to leave the office for such luxuries as lunch. So Alice was summoned to serve them Grill Room fare at their desks. Junor, who knew he really was an important and vital cog, suffered no such constraints, of course, and habitually sloped off to the Savoy or the Salieri in The Strand. 

But on seeing the eggs and chips or gurgleburgers on toasted buns being delivered to his staff he would oft utter the immortal phrase: ‘Och. Pass the sickbag, Alice.’

Watkins, ever the gentleman, sometimes used to take Alice home in the office ‘limo’ to her semi in Hutton, Essex, near where he lived, to save her a train journey in the early hours.

I woke him up so he could recall: “I’d be waiting with John, the office driver, in the Front Hall and Alice would burst out of the lift laden down with heavy carrier bags which she never let me help her with. Except on one occasion when I grabbed one which was so laden with contraband (allegedly) that I could hardly lift it.”

RICK McNEILL remembers: One afternoon in the Fleet Street newsroom, Managing Editor Eric Raybould, in his customary shirt sleeves and braces — and as usual, sucking on an unlit cigar — was sitting alone on the Back Bench reading the paper. Unnoticed by him, a wide-eyed group of members of the public appeared on one of the guided tours that were popular at the time. In hushed, almost reverential, tones, the management guide told them: “This, ladies and gentlemen, is the beating heart of the world’s greatest newspaper!”

At that moment Raybould spied Alice on the other side of the room and barked: “Alice! Where’s my fucking chips?”


Hickey reporter Geddes’ death is a tragedy none of us will forget but one of our own, Roy Greenslade, now says he supported the killings

philip-geddes-1981 1 med hr.jpeg

VICTIM: Philip Geddes pictured at St Edmund Hall in 1981

ONE of Fleet Street’s big names, Roy Greenslade, has caused outrage by confessing that he supported Irish Republican killings.

Those murders hit home at the Daily Express on December 17 1983 when the IRA detonated a bomb at Harrods in London killing six including William Hickey diary reporter Philip Geddes. He was just 24.

Now Chris Blackhurst, a former deputy editor of the Daily Express, has written a moving tribute to his old schoolfriend in the Daily Telegraph.

My friend was murdered by my boss’s mates in the IRA

The legacy of Philip Geddes, by Alan Frame


Press awards? I’ve never heard of 'em storms Lord Drone


Lord Drone was late last night forced to deny that any of his online newspaper journalists had been nominated for prestigious Society of Editors awards.

A spokesman roared: ‘This is nothing but outrageous rumour, scuttlebut and the ultimate in fake news emanating from drink-fuelled Fleet Street keyboard warriors and Back Bar WhatsApp gossip mongers.'

He was forced to deny that the Daily Drone’s Editor had to scrap a special edition celebrating the nominations of chief sub LP Brevmin, chief reporter Spike Diver, fashion team Pearl Nonpareil and Reynard Rambleshanks plus star columnist Rosalie Rambleshanks.

The spokesman said: ‘I woke him up and he confirmed that no special edition had been planned for the simple reason that no one on the staff had been up for any awards.

‘Our professional team now just wants to get on producing the World’s Greatest Online Newspaper in peace.’

BLOB* Last autumn Ms Rambleshanks was nominated for two Press Gazette awards but failed to win either. 

(Memo to CS: Can you start the final par with a blob: I’ve forgotten how to do it. - IRO)

*Will this do? — CS


Bob Satchwell dies at 73

His many friends in the newspaper industry will be saddened to hear of  the death of Bob Satchwell, founding executive director of the Society of Editors. He was 73.

Bob died in a hospice after spending a few weeks in hospital suffering from pneumonia and Covid-19.

He served as assistant editor of the News of the World before returning to regional newspapers as editor of the Cambridge Evening News in 1984.

Society of Editors tribute




"Hi Ashley, come in. Max Clifford wants me to fire you!" Sir Nicholas Lloyd in his Express office overlooking Fleet Street was laughing! "You certainly seem to have upset him."

The odious Max Clifford, a PR who was one of the most influential men in  Britain, and holding more sway than most politicians and the celebrities he represented, was livid about what I had written.

Clifford said that my page three piece on O.J. Simpson's arrival in the UK was a pack of lies. Ironic coming from the man who made up "Freddie ate my hamster" and "Mellor in a Chelsea shirt".

 Clifford was masterminding O.J. Simpson's brief visit to the UK to talk to the Oxford Union. 

The previous day he had invited the Express and the Mirror to meet Simpson on a Surrey golf course believing he had total control over the May 1996 PR stunt. 

I was representing the Express and the late, legendary Don Mackay was there for the Mirror.

 Don, never a man to mince his words, beat me to the obvious question that the US media had failed to ask: "How does it feel to get away with murder Mr. Simpson?"

Simpson, stunned,  failed to answer, but the day made great copy. Clifford's reaction was to bring the so called exclusive to a sudden halt.

Clifford made the same sacking demand about Don to his editor and when both  failed he told Sir Nicholas that he was withdrawing Express accreditation for the Oxford Union talk.

"I'm sure that won't bother you," said Sir Nicholas. 

So I went to Oxford minus the suit and in a pullover and scarf and walked straight in.

I made sure Clifford saw me and I had the satisfaction of giving him a merry wave. 

The first class Channel 4 documentary, the Fall of a Tabloid King, this week showed what power Clifford had in the tabloids.

 Editors would always answer his call.  Don and I kept our jobs, there was never any danger of losing them, but Clifford did phone us both, using some very colourful threats and a promise that we would never be allowed to work with him again. I laughed which seemed to annoy him even more while Don told Clifford his fortune.

As far as I know neither of us did work with Clifford again.

In  2014 Clifford was found guilty of eight counts of sexual assault and jailed for eight years.  He died in prison in December 2017.


Glamorous, chic, vibrant … do they really mean me?

BEYOND OUR KEN: Anneliese Dodds


Who’d be a Mail Online hack? On a slow Sunday.

So sympathy (not much — Ed) for Harriet Johnstone and Monica Greep for an excruciating piece on a new star of the silver screen.

They gushed over her ‘elegant figure as she showcased a chic new hairstyle and a glamorous vibrant blue coat’.

Apparently, ‘she appeared fresh faced, sporting a light contour with a touch of highlighter and soft pink blush.’

This paragon, who ‘donned a floral face covering’ also cunningly ‘accessorised with a pair of sparkling stud earrings and snake-skin kitten heels’

Once in the studio she ‘revealed a chic, monochrome ensemble of a smart cropped jacket with a curved hem with a simple black mini dress.’

Ah, I hear you say, it was the Golden Globes. Surely they were referring to one of the Brit nominees.

Alas, to the shame of Johnstone and Greep, it was, in fact, that raven-haired temptress Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds on the Andrew Marr show.



Paraprosdokians are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected and is frequently humorous. Winston Churchill loved them. The word comes from the Greek "παρά", meaning "against" and "προσδοκία", meaning "expectation". 

1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.

2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you — but it's still on my list.

3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

5. We never really grow up ... we only learn how to act in public.

6. War does not determine who is right, only who is left.

7. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

8. To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

9. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.

10. You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

11. I used to be indecisive, but now I'm not so sure.

12. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.

13. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian, any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

14. You're never too old to learn something stupid.

15. I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder for me to find one now.


If you're going to make
a mistake, you might as well make it a big one

Daily Mail, 5 December, 2000


And while we’re on the subject of Mail errors ...

The word "exclusive" has pretty much lost all meaning in the tabloid world these days, but the MailOnline certainly got a story that no other paper did with this one: "EXCLUSIVE: Victoria Beckham's beauty range defies the odds amid the pandemic with 'an incredible profit timeline’." 

As Posh's financial paperwork suggests her beauty range is responsible for a loss of about £4.7million (while her fashion line has lost around £11.8million) that's a very different line from the one most of the other coverage has gone with. 

Wonder who's been promised the next big interview?


Sarah Sands reflects on the fact that George Osborne, who  succeeded her as Editor of the Evening Standard, was not a journalist: ‘There are other people who can always put a page together … hacks can do that.’ — The Times Magazine.

How do these people get to positions of power? Remember Felicity Green and her ‘People Like Us and and People Like Them’ quote? — Ed


Mike Parry puts his trotter in it and loses radio show

SPLIT: Parry, right with his nemesis Mike Graham

By PEARL MINION (She’s such a nice type)

Former Daily Express news editor Mike "Porky" Parry started the week with a big announcement on Twitter that he was going to be taking over the TalkRADIO's weekend lunchtime show. 

Four days later, there's suddenly no mention of him anywhere on the upcoming schedule – neither in his old slot, nor in the new one. 

What happened? Sadly, it seems Porky is the latest victim of #cancel culture. 

All he did was repeatedly publicly insinuate that his former Express and TalkRADIO colleague Mike Graham was a cocaine-addicted drunk and that some of the station's other talent were forgettable nobodies. 

Now he looks to have been de-platformed, simply for holding these differing opinions. 

Still, at least it gives him some more time to practise his cinnamon swallowing…



Art Attack

by ROSALIE WHATSERNAM etc, etc (t)

Mrs Cassatt Reading: Mary Cassatt

‘Oh, no! We’ll have to slip this. Who the fuck subbed the Page 7 lead?’



How a foodie evening with Clement Freud became a dog’s dinner


Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you 
Carl Jung

Inspired by this quote from the Daily Drone VICTOR WATERS remembers bumping into food writer and panel game regular Sir Clement Freud in the 1960s.

Freud was an amiable bloke and I met him at the UK Gastronomic Festival, where I was taking pics for the Gas Council, sponsor of the show.

It was a wild weekend, but that story really is for ever sealed. 

We drove down in my open-top car and had to leave the place a couple of days later, under cover of darkness, after I tried to thump an arrogant Yank. But that turned out all right, because I heard later he was conman who had actually stitched up the manager of the Imperial for a few quid.

Anyway, Clement Freud.

He was there to judge the groaning display of food. 

This eventually began to smell very high, as it was displayed in a glass pavilion and the weather was unreasonably warm for an English summer. On the opening night he was introduced to us all by the Lord Mayor, whose oratorical style was honed in a boxing ring, by the sound of him.

You know — 'on my right, in the blue corner' — etc.

So he warmed up the mob before bellowing, 

"Now, on my right, may I introduce our honoured guest, Mr Clement FROOD."

Freud’s face was a picture. We addressed him as Mr Frood for the rest of the night.

He told us later that he had been sitting next to the Mayoress until called on to speak.

"She asked me haughtily if I had any children," he said.

“Yees, I have three, I replied." (Freud had a very distinctive mode of speech.)

"Oh, she said, I have one married daughter — and she looked at me like I was a sex-mad pervert.

Victor Waters’ book Pirates of Fleet Street is available here



                    BLUNT                                     HEWSON

So … here are two identikit thesps at the top of their game. Memphis Eve Sunny Day Hewson understandably took the stage name Eve Hewson when she launched her career. 

Award-winning Emily Blunt, slightly older, is already the go-to girl for many casting directors on both sides of the pond. Her latest movie, Disney’s Jungle Cruise, is set for a summer release. Hewson is currently starring in the Netflix psychological thriller series Behind Her Eyes.

Both have interesting fathers. Memphis etc is the daughter of Bono, lead singer of the iconic group U2. He once started a set by slowly clapping his hands together. ‘Each time I do this,’ he told the audience ‘a child dies in Africa’, to which a bloke in the front row replied: ‘Well, stop fucking clapping.’ 

Emily’s papa is the legal superstar Oliver Simon Peter Blunt, QC. He’s a tour de force in the Temple and the Central Criminal Court. One of his recent high profile cases was the defence of journalists caught up in the Operation Elvedon cash for info witch-hunt initiated by the then DPP Sir Keir (There really is less to me than meets the eye) Starmer. On acquittal, at least one journo was charmed to receive a congratulatory phone call from the lovely Emily.

AN R.R. (t)




          PIERCE                  SCHMIDT                   OWEN

So … today the Daily Drone breaks new ground by presenting … the Triplelike! 

Two of our three doppelgängers are well known in the world of journalism and television. The stranger is currently ‘starring’ at the Grenfell Tower inquiry: he is Claude Schmidt, boss of the French cladding company Arconic, who has bowed to pressure to give evidence to the virtual hearings. 

Doesn’t he look like TV presenter Nick Owen and the Daily Mail’s consultant editor, Andrew Pierce? 

Avuncular Nick, a breakfast TV pioneer, currently presents Midlands Today. A classics scholar and print journalist, he is a former chairman of Luton Town FC and president of Derbyshire CCC. 

Openly gay Pierce, acknowledged as a good Fleet Street operator, brings authority and wit to his paper. He is well known for his late night Sky TV jousting with the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire who, some would argue, doesn’t.

AN RR (t)



express sport .jpeg

It looks as if it has been taken in a London fog but if you squint carefully at this picture you may be able to discern a few familiar faces.

Yes chums, it’s the serried ranks of Express Sport taken in the early 1990s in the Blackfriars Lubyanka. 

Lined up are, foreground from left: Mike Sinclair, Charlie Sale, Jeff Ives, Chris Gill, Richard Lewis, Peter Tozer, Clive Goozee. In the background are: David Harrison, Peter Boyle, Martin Booth, Cora Weston, casual sub Pat Mooney, Barry Flatman, David Prole and John Phillips. 


How my football chum John came a cropper 


On February 19, 1955, two friends and I travelled to Wolverhampton to see our team, Charlton Athletic, play Wolves in the FA Cup 5th round.

  As we — and hundreds of other Charlton fans — came out of the station, a photographer came up to us and asked if he could take our a picture. One of my friends, who was always a difficult cuss at the best of times, didn't want to know, but the other one, John, and I, who were never shy of cameras, willingly posed.

After the game we were walking back to the station, sad that Charlton had been trounced 4-1, when John saw a copy of the Wolverhampton Express and Star in the gutter. He gleefully picked it up, hoping to see his photo, and was gutted to see he'd been cropped out. He sulked all the way back to Euston.




Sports subs of the Daily and Sunday Express long ago will recall having to fit the decorative, esoteric prose of equestrian correspondent Julia Longland into its allotted slot, phrases such "double oxer" in elongated sentences sometimes puzzling the uninitiated. Julia, a life-long keen and highly competent horsewoman, has recently given up her role as master of the South Down and Eridge Hunt after 24 years whipping 'em in. 

Originally employed at the Express in the 60s as secretary to famed columnist Bob Pitman, she has always possessed a style of her own, both in writing and verbally. 

An agitated sports news editor, with an eye on edition time, once gently chided her for late copy. "I'm sorry, but I had a dreadful copy-taker," Julia replied. "He couldn't even spell Moët et Chandon."

At the time Julia was teetotal and remained so for 44 years. Former colleagues will be surprised to learn that in her golden years she takes a splash of ginger wine in her regular tipple of ginger beer. 



Grieving widow speaks out after hospital A&E tragedy


Former Daily Express photographer Barry Gomer has died of a blood clot while waiting for treatment in a hospital A&E. He was 71.

Now his grieving wife Marthe has accused doctors of failing to save his life by failing to give him the drug he desperately needed.

Barry waited for nine hours without food before dying. And Marthe wants questions answered.



The hippy trail that led to Fleet Street

Turnip Road Cover.jpg


In 1973 as a 21-year-old babe-in-the-woods I hitch-hiked through a universe that good timing, luck and the pure innocence of being a turnip prevented me from experiencing war, a cyclone and a serial killer. I kept a diary of my nine-month journey from which I blew the dust during this lockdown, before editing it and publishing it.

I went through Iran, now a country where you run the risk as a UK citizen of being held by the state as a spy. I went through Afghanistan, now a country where the Taliban bomb at will. I went through Pakistan where Osama Bin Laden was hiding when he was assassinated by US Navy Seals.

By the time I got to Bangkok the serial hippie killer, featured on BBC TV’s The Serpent, was just warming up.

The title comes from an old adage I recall that bumpkins went round the world a turnip and returned a turnip: that was me.

When I got back to the UK, the recession had dried up the work I then did as a diver on projects like the Brighton Marina, so I asked my father for the air fare back to Australia to continue my global wanderlust. He agreed on condition that I first applied for a job as an editorial assistant in the Fetter Lane office of D.C. Thomson’s Sunday Post. I got the job and instead a new journey into Fleet Street began.

Now you can share my youthful wanderlust by reading Turnip Road, Beyond the Hippie Trail, from Southend to Sydney, available from Amazon Books or Kindle.


*Dick Durham worked casual shifts on the Daily Mirror, The Sun, Daily Mail, Evening Standard and The Daily Star before landing a staff job on the Daily Star in June 1980 where he remained until 1998.


Media hits and myths
An occasional series by SPIKE DIVER


NAUGHTY: Lucy Verasamy

Q. Is weather forecasting really just showbiz? 

A.You could be forgiven for thinking so. Especially after the weekend’s confected White Hell That Wasn’t drama. The winking, gurning show-offs who are now our TV weather boys and girls are certainly different from Michael ‘I’ve got a touch of wind’ Fish, Ian MacAskill and Bill Giles of yesteryear.

They seem to be selected for Weather Studio stardom as much for their looks and ‘personality’ as for their degrees in meteorology.

Take foxy redhead Isobel Lang. She appears on Sky where the weather ladies are shown full length wearing smart, pencil skirts. Who’s to say she wasn’t poached from the Beeb because of her pretty pins? 

Then there’s ITV’s gushing, pouting, simpering siren of the small screen, luscious Lucy Verasamy who, even (especially) during lockdown, looks as if she’ll be going on to do something naughty in a subterranean nightclub after News at Ten.

The Beeb’s Tomasz (The Finger) Shafernaker (crazy name, crazy guy etc), who got his kit off to grace the cover of a gay mag, is a heartthrob. However, the pandemic has seen him morph from being a blond boy band lookalike into a rather sinister, dark-haired society crimper.

A favourite is school marm Helen Willetts. This wholesome former badminton international just loves forecasting inclement weather. Watch her wriggle and shiver, almost orgasmically, when the latest Beast from the East is nigh.

The BBC team’s lust to be centre stage is played out each Sunday during Countryfile when the duty forecaster has a live slot inserted into the recorded programme. Because it’s all about mangel wurzels (crops and people), the presenter feels obliged to change out of his suit into jeans and check shirt like a member of a Dolly Parton tribute act. And then change back again for the 10 O’Clock News.

Have you noticed as well the game weather presenters play? They seem incapable of saying things like ‘the showers will reach London, too’ or ‘will also reach London’. It’s always got to be ‘reach London as well’. It’s as if they compete to see who can use this lazy phrase the most during a two-minute bulletin.

Still, turned out nice again, hasn’t it?


Specs and drugs and sausage rolls


One columnist’s view of the Daily Express in 1965

From the Spectator, January 15, 1965

The Press


ON Monday morning a new man started work at the Daily Express as associate editor. His name is Harold Keeble — his mission, to refurbish the fastest-fading myth in Fleet Street.

For forty years. while the Express rode high, one nagging question always remained: 'What will happen when Beaverbrook dies?' At last the answer is becoming plain for all to see. On Tuesday, as the Daily Mirror announced a gala ball to celebrate its circulation passing the five-million mark, Bcaverbrook's squabbling heirs faced rumours that they might soon have to break to advertisers the news that the Express was below the magic four million.

Signs that the Express had lost its flair were already increasing with Beaverbrook's senility.

Executive changes at the top of the paper started to become a running joke. The paper's proud boast that 'it always lived up to the big occasion' was finally shattered by the amateurishly woebegone edition which greeted its proprietor's death — hardly an event that could be said to have been unanticipated in the Express office. 

But in the past six months things have gone from bad to worse. Without the continual threat of that Canadian rasp down any Expressman's telephone, the paper has become flaccid, dull, no longer the first one turns to on a bleak morning, but a paper which spends as much time picking up other people's ideas and stories as finding its own. When even the World's Press News can say 'it appeared to be living on past glory' the Express has come to a sorry pass.

Meanwhile, in the paper itself, bitterness, temper, even wild accusations of 'megalomania' abound. Staff changes continue. Recently, amid internecine shouts, deputy editor Peter Baker —intermittently a longtime Beaverbrook white hope — left his post. Bright young men, such as the political correspondent Ian Aitken and defence correspondent Charles Douglas-Home —who, in ancient times, might well have made their lives with Beaverbrook — find happier pastures elsewhere. 

Things have happened which six months ago could never have been imagined — such as the sub-contracting out of chunks of the paper to the staff of the Queen, the virtually unreadable Leisurescope feature on Saturdays. Not to say, of course, the ludicrous reversal of old Express policy on newspaper participation in ITV— coupled with the buying of shares in ATV and the appearance of sycophantic features on the artistic good taste of Mr. Lew Grade.

All this was the challenge which on Monday faced Harold Keeble, a fifty-two-year-old North Countryman who has been with the Express before — for twenty-three years. His speciality is 'projection' and layout — it was his flair that was a considerable behind-the-scenes ingredient in making up the public legend of Arthur Christiansen. 

In the four years since he left the Express, Keeble has twice been caller-in to perform facelifting operations on ailing or stultifying news- papers — on the Sketch and the Mirror. He has won much admiration. But the problem that faces him on the Express today is one defying mere tricks of 'projection'; it is to find the paper a new personality. It is hard to imagine that a man who grew up in the shadow of Lord Beaverbrook will find it easy.

Another rescue-attempt is under way on the Observer's Colour Magazine — the BBC-2 of journalism — where it seems that Editor Michael Davy is shortly to be moved back to the deputy editorship of the main paper, to be replaced by Anthony Sampson. 

A crop of rumours earlier this week that Mark Boxer is also to move, wafted upwards in the Thomson group on the tide of Sunday Times Magazine profits, is strictly untrue — although this is not preventing him from laying the foundations for at least one new Thomson magazine venture for later in the year. 

Rumours that the Weekend Telegraph is to be moved to Sunday after all — to pick up the suffering Sunday Telegraph —are still being denied.


Sir – Christopher Booker’s coruscating assessment of the Daily Express back in 1965 is notable, reading it today, for its prescience. As a junior news sub at the time, I was only dimly aware of the machinations going on behind the scenes as the paper struggled to find its way after Beaverbrook’s death. One does clearly remember, however, DX80, the truly dreadful Jocelyn Stevens-inspired project to take the paper into the 1980s but which succeeded only in plunging what was still a stylish broadsheet into characterless mediocrity. The relaunch as a tabloid, too, which began promisingly as a game-changer in 1977, was quickly hobbled to accommodate the birth of the Daily Star.

A grim succession of editors and proprietors are also part of the story, of course. For me the signal event was when Sir Max Aitken refused to give the editorship to David English, the natural man for the job. The aggrieved English quit to take his undoubted talents to edit the Daily Sketch, then the ailing Daily Mail in 1971, which he transformed into what became, in effect, the Bouverie Street Express. 

But we’ve all passed a lot of water since then.

Rick McNeill
Night Editor 1977-79
Cape Town


Aunt’s sad letter to Daily Express writer Judith that proved John Lennon planned to return to UK


LAST PHONE CALL: Lennon with his Aunt Mimi

Two years after her death at 93 in 2018, veteran Daily Express showbusiness writer and Beatles confidante Judith Simons is still making the news with a John Lennon story.

A letter to Judith sent on  January 24, 1981, has revealed that the night before the former Beatle was assassinated in New York by Mark Chapman on December 8, 1980, he had phoned his aunt Mimi Smith about his plans to return to Britain soon.

Mimi, who had raised Lennon from infancy, wrote the letter in response to Judith’s condolences about the musician's shocking murder. 

The letter read: ‘Dear Judith, Thank you for your letter, kind thoughts. I’m trying to accept this terrible thing which has happened, but finding it very hard. He had such faith himself, I’m trying to do the same. He phoned the night before, witty, funny, bubbling over with excitement, coming over very soon. Couldn’t wait to see me. So I’m glad of that.' 

Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn, who interviewed Judith, pictured above, about the Beatles for his biography, believes that the letter from Mimi is proof that Lennon was not only planning to return to Britain but also to perform. ’There are other indications that he was considering a concert tour, and this letter supports that,’ he says.

The letter from Mimi formed part of Judith's estate and was recently discovered by Tracks Ltd, which gives free valuations of music memorabilia at

Judith had gained unique access to the Beatles through contacts that included their manager Brian Epstein’s mother, a distant relative of Judy’s; she became good friends with Mimi, to whom Lennon remained close all his life despite relocating to Manhattan with his second wife Yoko Ono.  


Nimmo’s last lunch at the Daily Express

THIS happy gathering at the Daily Express offices in London’s Blackfriars proved to be actor Derek Nimmo’s final beano.

A few hours after this photo was taken, Nimmo suffered a fall which culminated in his death a few weeks later.

The picture, taken on 2 December 1998 at the National Treasures celebrity lunch in the boardroom, was posted online by Daily Mail diarist John McEntee.

It shows, from left, Express editor Rosie Boycott, TV sports presenter Dickie Davies, writer Melvyn Bragg, novelist Beryl Bainbridge, Nimmo, actress Joan Collins, racing correspondent Peter O’Sullevan and broadcaster Sue MacGregor.

Nimmo had recently returned from a Middle East tour of Run For Your Wife and was in sparkling form during the lunch. 

After the meal he asked to be driven to the Garrick Club for further refreshment, and then returned to his home in Lexham Gardens, Kensington. He and his wife later went out to dinner. 

On their return, Nimmo was checking an external alarm when he lost his footing and fell down a stone staircase into the basement. He suffered head injuries and was taken to the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital where he remained in a coma until the end of December. 

While still recovering in hospital, Nimmo contracted pneumonia and died on 24 February 1999. He was 68.


Night Bunny Laws was all ears for Lloyd Turner

Here’s a blast from the past, a scene from the Daily Express newsroom in the late 1970s. On the left late chief sub David ‘Bunny’ Laws is discussing third edition changes with night editor Lloyd Turner.

Lloyd had a habit of ripping the first edition to pieces and David had a reputation for calling people back from the pub to assist him in his earnest endeavours.

David, a superb and professional operator, now writes novels. He worked for the Sunday Express for decades until being furloughed in the Covid crisis. He finally got his redundancy cheque last October. His service on Express Newspapers spanned 54 years which must be a record.



By POPBITCH, Gossip Editor

After having publicly shamed a long list of Covid rule-benders, it was pretty rich of The Sun to throw an in-person Christmas party in their office in late December – just days after London was placed in Tier 3.

True to form, there hasn't been much of a rush to bring any disciplinary proceedings against the lecherous 50-something boss who, after several bottles were sunk, was seen fingering a drunken PA 30 years his junior in a glass-fronted office. HR has been too busy summoning the minimum-wage graduate trainees who witnessed the incident – and threatening to sack them if they dared repeat what they saw.

It's no surprise things are on high alert there though. Throughout the festive season, one of The Sun's former star reporters was taking to Facebook late at night, threatening to spill everything he knows about the paper's inner workings, before deleting them shortly after. NewsUK has always worried he'd be the one to go rogue, even after they arranged a book deal for him to keep him sweet. Seems to have only bought his silence for so long…

UPDATE: As more details of The Sun's finger-heavy Christmas party continue to emerge, how long can they keep the implicated Senior Exec in  position? Especially now that more and more women are swapping stories between themselves about his seedy use of Google Messages?

NOW he's had his second dose of the vaccine in the UK, Rupert Murdoch is preparing to make his way to NYC to oversee the difficult post-Trump positioning for Fox News. Should be fun.



Perry QC gets it in the neck from his learned chums

EMINENT QC David Perry, a former night lawyer on the Daily Express, has got himself into a bit of a scrape.

He has attracted the ire of his fellow learned friends by agreeing to act for the Hong Kong government in its efforts to convict Jimmy Lai and eight other pro-democracy activists accused of taking part in an illegal assembly in 2019.

Now, after pressure from within the profession, Mr Perry has pulled out of the case.

Hong Kong’s justice departmnent noted “growing pessure and criticism” of the QC for taking the case. Mr Perry had “concerns about such pressures and the exemption of quarantine” and "indicated that the trial should proceed without him".

Many of us who worked on the Daily Express in the 1970s and 80s remember David as a charming and knowledgable lawyer with a light-touch approach to newspaper law. 

He advised us what we could get away with rather what we couldn’t say. One of his few equals on this was the late, great Geoffrey ‘Called to the Bar’ Conlin, another fine and convivial fellow who was a delightful companion in the pubs and clubs of old Fleet Street.

David, one of the country’s most respected and formidable criminal lawyers and a part-time High Court judge, found himself at the centre of controversy over his Hong Kong appointment.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the shadow attorney-general and former lord chancellor, said: “He must withdraw as he cannot continue in that role and remain consistent with the values of the UK. He is prosecuting some of the most well-known democracy campaigners.”

Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, QC, chairwoman of the International Bar Association’s human rights institute, told The Times: “I cannot fathom why any reputable British barrister would provide a veneer of respectability to actions which are contrary to democracy and the rule of law. This decision will become a source of shame.”

David has refused to comment on the controversy but in his defence we would point out that it is nothing new for lawyers to be asked to act for people whose views they find reprehensible.

The “cab rank” rule is the standard justification. Horace Rumpole sums it up thus: “I’m a taxi plying for hire. I’m bound to accept anyone, however repulsive, who waves me down and asks for a lift.”

In other words, lawyers must accept any case that comes their way. That is nothing new.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the case, the Daily Drone  wishes the excellent Mr Perry well.

CLIVE GOOZEE remembers: Mention of the late great Geoffrey Conlin took me back to an evening in the Black Lubyanka when he walked into the sports department to query a story, just as another late great, John Lloyd, carrying a tray of teas and rock cakes, arrived for his shift, late as usual. That’s why he bought the warm beverages. 

On seeing Geoffrey, John said: "Allo Allo Mr Lawyer, how’s the soliciting business?" The subs thought it was funny, but a very affronted Geoffrey didn’t appreciate the laughter, said loudly: "I wouldn’t know,” and walked out.


After P.E. Dant’s list of banned winter clichés, the Flying Fuck Back Bar What’sApp group would like to know if the following are still allowed:

Winter Wonderland!

It’s Snow Joke!

Brrritain! Brrrighton! Brrridlington! (I get it — Ed)

More on way, warn Met men (archetypal sub deck used on any weather story)

Ice Work If You Can Get It! (Skating rink attendant pictured with girls sliding around in short skirts)

Freezer Jolly Good Fellow! (Good Samaritan aids trapped motorists)

Ski’s A Jolly Good Fellow! (Good Samaritan skis to aid trapped motorists)

Tree’s A Jolly Good Fellow! (This is getting silly now-Ed)

Winter Of Our Disco Tent! (DJ defies Lockdown to stage rave under canvas)

That’s it! Stop this right now — Ed


The atmospheric photo that landed Katherine Whitehorn her first job 


(and why she couldn’t bin her husband’s underpants)
This great Bert Hardy picture of Katharine Whitehorn resulted in the celebrated columnist getting hired as a journalist.

A Times obituary of Whitehorn, who has died at the age 0f 92, describes how she landed a job in 1956 as a reporter on Picture Post, off Fleet Street, under the editor Lionel “Bobby” Birch, in whose office she quickly made friends and, in her words, “attracted a good deal of male attention”. 

The job (“which I wanted more than heaven,” she telegraphed her parents) was hers after the great photographer Bert Hardy pictured her in an iconic pose: sitting in a circular skirt on the floor by a gas fire, surrounded by milk bottles and laundry, for a feature entitled “Lonely in London”.

The obituary adds that she once told how she had tried to bin a pair of her husband Gavin Lyall’s faded, ragged underpants, whereupon he snatched them back, protesting: “But they were my father’s!”

Whitehorn spent most of her career on The Observer where she was associate editor from 1980 to 1988. Lyall, a noted thriller writer, died in 2003 aged 70.


History in Moments

(Our awards-nominated trainee)

1920s. So...a different view of bustling Fleet Street. We’re all accustomed to the shot taken from roughly opposite the Tip looking up to St Paul’s with the Telegraph, the King and Keys and the Black Lubyanka on the left. And if there’s a London, Chatham and Dover train chugging out of Ludgate Hill Station across the viaduct, before it was demolished in 1990 to make way for what is now City Thameslink station, then so much the better.

Here we’re looking West, though. In the distance on the right is the clock outside the gothic Royal Courts of Justice. The church tower of St Dunstan-in-the-West is closer, almost next door to the offices of the Bristol Times and Mirror. This newspaper, now long gone, was once part of a thriving press in the West Country port city whose merchant venturers were always anxious for any news that might affect their businesses. 

Now the city is home to just two newspapers, both owned by what Proddie describes as ‘fucking Retch: they really make me sick’. The Bristol Post (né Evening Post), known as ‘the newspaper all Bristol asked for and helped to create’, limps on. The morning, the Western Daily Press has also seen better days, notably when sometime Express subs Eric Price and Terry Manners worked there as Editor and Roger Watkins as Night Editor. Let’s not forget two other Bristol staffers, Sir Terry Pratchett and Sir Tom Stoppard. They didn’t do too badly, either.

AN RR (t)


Canary Wharf, 50 years apart


Looking north from Greenwich, these two pictures reveal how Canary Wharf, home of the Express, Star and Mirror titles, has grown from a dockyard to a huge commercial centre with towering skyscrapers.

From 1802 to the late 1980s, what would become the Canary Wharf Estate was a part of the Isle of Dogs and was one of the busiest docks in the world. After the 1960s, the port industry began to decline, leading to all the docks being closed by 1980.

The area in East London was then developed to become what it is today — a city of skyscrapers, 300 shops and luxury flats. Thanks to Covid it is a bit quiet at the moment.

Happily, the Old Royal Naval College, now part of the University of Greenwich, on the south of the Thames has remained more or less unchanged.


Legends in their lunchtime


ANOTHER day, another booze-up — we did rather a lot of that back in the day.

 This 1990 line-up was snapped at a Daily Express lunch for the new England football manager Graham Taylor and his assistant, Lawrie McMenemy, in the Blackfriars Lubyanka.

Pictured from left: Clive Goozee (who provided this pic),  chief football writer Steve Curry, Lawrie, deputy editor Paul Potts, Graham, and head of sport David Emery. 

Taylor, the son of a provincial sports editor, succeeded Bobby Robson who had steered England to a World Cup third-place play-off at Italia '90. He is remembered for the expression “Do I not like that,” featured in a TV documentary about his time as England boss.



History in Moments

1982. So...before my time, of course, but Proddie, my self appointed ‘guide and mentor’, recalls fondly the moment that a well-upholstered lass called Erika Roe ran on to the pitch at Twickenham, flaunting her magnificent embonpoint to a baying crowd. 

‘Talk about swing low sweet chariot,’ he chuckles. The ultimate streak played well on telly, as you’d imagine, but still pictures were rather ruined by the little chap in top hat and tails who insisted on covering Ms Roe’s 40ins attractions with the union flag he was carrying. 

Typical of the late Ken Bailey, 71-year-old self-styled England cheerleader and mascot, a ubiquitous, jumped-up, show-off who was ever-present at sporting events at the time. 

Naturally, the January 2 rugby match between England and Australia was disrupted. England prop Colin Smart memorably said to his skipper, Bill Beaumont: ‘Don’t look now, Bill, a bird’s just run on with your arse tacked on to her chest.’ 

Erika, who later became a sweet potato farmer in Portugal (as you do), was unrepentant. Drink was blamed. 



BY POPBITCH, Gossip Editor

Prince Andrew is under the spotlight again now that Peter Nygard – another society figure he has ties to – has been arrested on sex trafficking charges. 

Some new questions are now being asked about Andrew's version of events, but no doubt HRH will simply consider this to be more of the same beastly treatment he has come to expect from the media. 

When Handsy Andy was a guest at a party at Cameron Diaz's house a few years ago, one poor soul who ended up stuck talking to him says the Prince spent the entire evening complaining about how the UK press liked to build people up, only to knock them back down again. 

Not only had it happened to him, he said, but also to his favourite band "The Radioheads”.


Q: Why does the Duke of York not sweat?
A: He uses Andy-perspirant



Reg Lancaster, one of the star photographers from the great days of the Daily Express, died on Sunday.

Reg photographed everything from sport and news to celebrity and film sets. He was on the staff of the paper for 44 years, joining in 1951. He spent time in London, Scotland and Paris. Reg was also a talented filmmaker and writer.



How Barbara pulled a fast one and got a lad in


Dame Barbara Windsor had many strong points, but subtlety was not one of them — as I discovered while ghosting her autobiography 20 years ago.

One of the experiences Barbara had to address in the book was falling love with the son of one of her old school friends, while married, a story she asked me to reveal exclusively in the News of the World.

On the morning the story broke, the tabloid Press besieged Barbara’s Marylebone home, eager to see and hear from the new man in her life, an actor, 26 years younger, named Scott Mitchell. 

The couple stayed indoors, with the phone off the hook, all that Sunday and most of Monday. But that afternoon Barbara had to leave for the theatre, where she was appearing in Aladdin – and, as she rushed to Scott’s waiting Mercedes, she fended off questions with: “Sorry, can’t stop – I’m appearing in panto.”

The next day, The Sun ran a photo, under the headline: “Sorry, must dash, I’ve got Aladin tonight” a witty line, for which Sun sub Fergus Shanahan must take the credit.     

When Barbara read how I’d written this episode for her book she shook her head. “No, darling, we’ve got to spell it out, otherwise my readers won’t get the joke.”

She wanted the line to read “: … I’ve got A-LAD-IN-TONIGHT.”

I explained that The Sun must have been convinced their millions of readers would understand the double-entendre and, after a while, Barbara gave in.

As far as I was concerned, that was the end of that but, weeks later, when I read the proofs, I discovered that crafty old Babs had persuaded the editor to put the dashes back. 


The mad gangster now singing at Platform 14

No, you’re not going barmy … this really is the benevolent Mad Frankie Fraser singing his heart out for charity with movie star Shirley-Anne Field.

The astonishing photo was taken in the early nineties by former Express sub-editor Robin McGibbon, who was ghosting the notorious gangster’s autobiography.

It came about when Fraser learned that Shirley-Anne wanted help in promoting a carol singing event on London’s Waterloo Station, in aid of Save the Children. 

The publicity-mad villain immediately offered his services, while admitting he couldn’t sing a note and his tuneless voice was torture for anyone unfortunate enough to hear it.




Steve Wood and Larry.jpg

LIFE OF LARRY: Steve Wood in Downing Street yesterday Picture by MARK THOMAS

THERE isn’t a lot happening in the world of politics so photographer Steve Wood wandered down to Downing Street to see what was occurring.

The answer was not a lot. But who should Steve encounter outside No10 but Larry the cat, looking worried about how the negotiations on the price of fish were progressing in Brussels.

Former Express star photographer Steve told the Drone: "Larry is worried about his supply of Greek sea bass. 

"I worry about the supply of halibut from Norway but I couldn't give a shit about the fish that the French want off  the Cornish coast — smelly awful tiny herrings — they can have them. 

"All of the fish in British waters is probably covered in oil. I don’t want any of it — I'll stick to Norwegian halibut and Larry will stick to Greek sea bass.”

Er, yes, quite … we told you it was a slow news day.



WHO’S this fresh-faced young man looking mightily pleased to meet Miss World?

Yes chums, it’s Expressman Clive Goozee pictured with Ann Sidney in 1964 when he was a reporter on the Marylebone and Paddington Mercury in London.  

Clive told the Drone; "We are in a branch of Sketchley the dry cleaners in Marylebone High Street. I was sent to interview Ann by the Mercury boss, Maurice Krais, whom I later encountered on Saturdays at The People where he was a news editor. 

"Ann was on a whistle-stop tour to thank the various people who looked after her during the contest. She comes from Bournemouth but I haven’t seen her since we moved here! 

"I think she’s the same age as me, 76. There’s a picture of her on a wall of celebrities at Chez Fred, our incredibly popular fish and chip restaurant in Westbourne. 

"I’ll take my photo with me the next time we go for a fish supper. Sonny’s Fish Bar, my childhood chippie in Lisson Grove, Marylebone, became the Sea Shell in the 60s. 

"It's around the corner from the street where I lived. It’s a favourite for showbiz people. We’ve seen a few, including the Drone’s jokester Barry Cryer.”

Ann’s still looking good, Clive. Here she is, pictured in 2017.

ann sidney2017.jpg


History in Moments

1943: So...even heroes have to chill, writes Awards Nominee Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee), skilfully avoiding the classic Calm Before The Storm cliché intro. 

A young man in uniform takes a breather in a poppy field as the Second World War rages. But this was no ordinary airman. Rather, it was the extraordinary Wing Commander Guy Gibson relaxing before the action that was to celebrate his name for ever: the Dambusters raid over the Ruhr, Germany’s industrial heartland, on May 16-17, 1943.

Gibson was a phenomenon. He flew more than 170 missions and was the most glittering bomber pilot of his day; so much so that his time as a fighter pilot tends to be overlooked. 

Promoted to senior rank very young, as the holder of the VC, DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar, he was the most decorated serviceman of his day. Yet when he was killed in action in 1944 he was still only 26.

Like his school companion, Douglas Bader, he didn’t suffer fools at all. He was known as the Boy Emperor and the Arch Bastard. Said to be arrogant and bombastic, he had little time for ‘other ranks and colonials’. Yet one of his crew conceded: ‘I could see that he was a true leader although he never spoke to me or even acknowledged me.’

Gibson’s role in the bouncing bomb (mines, actually) raids has been immortalised in the classic and oft-screened 1955 film The Dam Busters. There’s a poignant and true account of the death of his black Labrador dog on the eve of the raid (who can forget the sight of Gibson throwing its lead into a waste paper basket?). Yet one of our insufferable, achingly woke TV stations (no ducks to be won for suggesting Channel 4) chose to cut this because the dog’s name was Nigger.

Gibson was excellently played in the film by another war hero, airborne forces veteran Richard Todd. But his part in the celebrated capture of the Pegasus Bridge in 1944 is, of course, another story, another History in Moments.


Legend Pattinson sums up his great Fleet Street life in 297 brilliant pages

ONE of old Fleet Street’s great characters Terry Pattinson has written a terrific autobiography.

Terry, pictured, spent much of his career on the Mirror and the Express and has received rave reviews for Scoop, A Life In Fleet Street.

The synopsis on Amazon reads: "Journalists live for exclusive stories, or ‘scoops’ as they are better known. Terry Pattinson is one of those reporters from the ‘golden era’ of Fleet Street. 

"Former Daily Mirror editor Mike Molloy called him a ‘great story finder.’ He was an industrial correspondent for 21 years – the final seven as Daily Mirror Industrial Editor. He was Reporter of the Year in the 1990 British Press Awards for his coverage of what became known as The Arthur Scargill Affair. He also won the London Press Club’s Scoop of the Year.

"Former Labour Cabinet Minister Alan Johnson described Terry as a 'Fleet Street legend' while former Labour MP Fiona Mactaggart said, 'Terry was my favourite journalist.'

"Terry’s coverage of the Russian spacecraft taking photographs of the moon’s surface led to a world exclusive for the Daily Express. One rival newspaper called it ‘The Scoop of the Century.’

"He was on the inside track of many major news events and relates hilarious background material that you couldn’t make up. Mirror Publisher Robert Maxwell, MC, admitted to Terry that he was wanted for war crimes and was an ‘agent of influence’ for Israel."

Terry’s book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle and is warmly recommended. 




The editor of the Daily Drone, Mr Alastair McIntyre, normally hides his light under a bushel (whatever that is) and prefers anonymity but today he is the subject of our fascinating quiz.

Mr McIntyre, who prefers to masquerade under an aristocratic soubriquet, has been cunningly hidden in this photograph of him at a family celebration.

Can you spot him readers? Where is the Wally? Answers on a postcard to the nearest wagger pagger bagger (waste paper basket) as the old fool would put it.

Must go, he’s just staggering back from an extended slope.

I want the person who wrote this bilge to report to my office first thing in the afternoon — Ed
PS: The hat lights up, wiggles about and plays a tune.


Another great Daily Drone competition. Today it’s ...


lil dicky.jpg

Here’s a special Daily Drone picture puzzle to help you while away those long winter nights. We have cunningly hidden not one but two pictures of hunky Expressman Richard Dismore.

Can you spot them, readers? Answers on a postcard to the usual dustbin.

Picture research by T. MANNERS, who prefers to remain anonymous.

A reader writes: Dear Ed, I am another avid Drone reader not wishing to add to your ever-increasing photo gallery of Dick Dismore pictures because there is only so much handsomeness a fellow hack can take. 

But it struck me that following the exposé of Mr Dismore adopting the look of his idol — actor Peter Wyngarde in the 1970s — the similarity he shared with actor Omar Sharif in the next decade is amazing as the picture you featured with arm-punching and chip-sharing Kiwi Les Diver shows in the 1980s. 

Off now to look at my 90s photo file ...

Memory Lane
Dollis Hill.

Well done for omitting a snap of Saddam Hussein, but there’s always tomorrow — Ed



The American magazine Town and Country has revisited the great Daily Express scoop revealing Michael Fagan’s break-in at Buckingham Palace in 1982. 

The story was written by Norman Luck, who is sadly no longer with us, but Express royal correspondent Ashley Walton, who was also involved in the story, tells how his pulse was racing as he picked up the phone to talk to the Queen’s Press secretary.

Read the fascinating tale here


Steve Bell’s cartoon banned by the Graun

BELL IF.jpeg

CARTOONIST Steve Bell was in even more trouble last night after this drawing from his If strip was rejected by editors.

Bell, one of our most gifted by controversial cartoonists, is already working out his notice with the paper.

London’s Political Cartoon Gallery tweeted: 'Spiked because it made someone at The Guardian "feel uncomfortable". This is the first time that a cartoon has been spiked by the paper because it didn't toe a particular editorial line. A sad day.'


My fabulous night with the Fab Four