THE WORLD’S GREATEST ONLINE NEWSPAPER 

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Her Majesty’s
DAILY DRONE

LONDON

WEDNESDAY 23 JUNE 2021

Weather: Warmer, some sun, max 21C, min 8C

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SEARCH THE DRONE

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

 The trouble with you journalists is that you’re always sticking your noses into other people’s business
Daily Express owner Lord Matthews to editor Christopher Ward

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Today's papers

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Morten Morland, The Times

TODAY'S CARTOONS
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Shock death of lovely Helene, queen of the Express secretaries

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FRIENDS: Alan Frame with his former PA Helene

By ALAN FRAME

Here’s something I never wanted to write: Helene Costas, the lovely, clever and bubbly fixture of the Daily Express editorial floor in London for the past 40 years has died aged just 63. 

I am particularly sad because Helene was my PA for almost 15 years and during that time I owed her far more than she probably ever knew. She organised me, tried to get me to meetings on time (the fact that she sometimes failed was no reflection on her), hauled me out of hostelries and knew most of my secrets, poor girl.

Helene, or ‘Tinky’ as her family and legion of friends affectionately called her, died on June 13 after barely three months fighting cancer. She discovered she had the wretched disease when her hip became painful. A trip to the Cromwell confirmed the worst and despite a course of chemo and radiotherapy, the cancer spread. 

But Helene, who could keep secrets better than anyone else, told nobody except her siblings and two friends, Pauline and Stacy. And so it was that the rest of her friends only found out six days after her death.

Helene was the eldest of seven, born to a Greek Cypriot father and English mother in Stamford Hill, inner London. Her parents began a Greek grocery import business and that may have given her a taste for retail because on leaving school she started work at British Home Stores long before, thank God, the ghastly Philip Green got his grubby hands on that venerable institution. By the late 1970s Helene was managing the Mare Street branch in Hackney.

But BHS’s loss was the Express’ gain when Helene took a shorthand course and was soon working as a secretary at the paper. When I was appointed features editor in 1981 she came to work for me, somehow sticking it out as I climbed the greasy pole to executive editor. 

In 1995 I went to launch Liberty Publishing for that other old retail rogue, Mohamed Fayed, but we stayed in touch, meeting regularly. And there she stayed until this Spring, working as assistant managing editor and latterly as PA to Gary Jones, the Express editor.

Helene never married, though not for the want of being asked. She had so many loyal friends both in and beyond the Express. We would have a gossipy supper at least once a year, often with Wendy Payne, Nick Lloyd’s former PA, and Jeanette Bishop, stalwart of Hickey. Sometimes we would be joined by Sunday Express picture editor Terry Evans before his tragically early death. She was also a guest of the World’s Greatest Luncheon Club, a pearl among swine!

One of her closest friends, Tinu Majek of the showbiz department, said: ‘Helene always recounted that the best days of working at the Express were when we used to go to lunch for at least three hours, followed by a session in the Poppins, then off clubbing until the early hours of the morning. 

'We hardly had any sleep but still managed to be at our desks on time and fulfilled our roles with great aplomb, without any hangovers from the previous night. That was a lot more fun than their bosses were having. And we were the ones with hangovers…'

We will all be able to join her brothers and sisters, Maria, Barry, Paul, Stella, Ricky and Lisa and their families and have the opportunity to say goodbye to the lovely Helene at her funeral in Southwark Cathedral on Friday, July 9 at 2.30 followed by drinks at the Lord Nelson, her local in Union Street, SE1. And her wish was that we should enjoy ourselves, just as she would undoubtedly have done. 

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Hedley leads in poll to find the greatest Express Supersub

Daily Express news sub-editors pictured on the front of UK Press Gazette in London, 1983. Peter Hedley, celebrating his retirement, is centre right in the dark jacket next to Les Diver, holding the newspaper bill

By SPIKE DIVER

The recent Drone news item about Peter Hedley subbing six splashes in one night, all of which were used, raises the question: who were the greatest hard copy Express news subs in the last 15 years, or so, in Fleet Street before pen and paper gave way to pesky machines over Blackfriars Bridge? 

Forgive me for consulting my colleagues, LP Brevmin and Revise Editor PE Dant, but this takes some thinking about. It certainly was a golden age and the Express was blessed with some elegant wordsmiths. 

But who were the best? Hedley must figure, of course. I wish I could recall details of the weather splash he subbed where a commercial salesman survived being stuck in a snowdrift because, as Peter wrote, ‘he travelled in ladies’ underwear’. 

Then there was Ralph Mineards with his equally wonderful turn of phrase; Ken Weller, the man for the big occasion; someone who made duck noises and the matinee idol who went on to become Editor. 

Out of left field, what about Alan Stein, who joined us from The Sun in the Eighties? If pushed, though, I would name five super subs but please don’t make me list them in order of merit. What about Peter Hedley, Roy Povey, Paul Carter, Pat Welland and, for those with a long memory, Cliff Barr?

RICK McNEILL* writes: I have known many brilliant subs on the Daily Express, but Peter Hedley was head and shoulders (should that be head and subdeck?) above them all. Throughout the Sixties and Seventies he was quite simply an astonishing one-man masterclass of the sub-editor’s art. Editors (and night editors) came and went, but Peter was the nightly genius who made sure the lead story was literate, word perfect and off-stone on time.

I was lucky enough to witness one of his many triumphs – possibly his greatest -- when the Aberfan disaster struck in October 1966. The unflappable Hedley sat quietly reading the outpouring of hard copy that flowed in throughout the evening – from the PA, stringers and the Express’s own Welsh Wizard on the spot John Christopher.

As the deadline pressed, he set the great pile aside, pulled over a blank pad and began to write the splash, as he always did, by hand. It flowed, page by page “down the hole” to the printers — 2,000-plus words powerfully capturing the shock, the anger, and the grief of that tragic night.

We’re a cynical lot but there was hardly a dry eye in the house when the first edition landed on our desks.

Hedley was one of the stars of the paper’s post-war subs room. He was said to have served in Special Ops, but ever-reticent, he would never talk about it. Among other vets were Morris Benett, Ralph Mineards, Ken Macaulay, Ewart Brookes and Ted Hodgson. Morris won the MC and lost a lung in Italy; Ted was flying Spitfires in North Africa at the age of 15, having lied about his age; Ewart was a submarine commander. And of course there was the urbane and witty chief sub Dougie Orgill, a tank commander in Italy.

Remarkable characters who made a substantial contribution to the success of the World’s Greatest Newspaper – as it once was.

 *Daily Express sub, chief sub and night editor, 1965 – 1981.

JEFF CONNOR speaks up for Manchester:  Just a reminder that there were one or two subs working for the Express in Ancoats during the period Lord Drone is talking about! (Lord Drone did not write this piece and does not necessarily share its views — Ed)

The best I have seen at any level (and Chris Gill will probably agree) was Bryn Davies on Express sport in Manchester. It's good to bring his name into this forum as he should be remembered. Bryn, as well as being unmatchable in the subbing arts, had a photographic memory as he proved when covering athletics. Olympic 100m champion Alan Wells, to quote one example, thought he was the best in the sportswriting business. Bryn was ghosting his column at the time. 

He loved his Guinness (bizarrely, always in a bottle) and used to live in Hollingworth, between Glossop and Hyde. Neighbours included Pat Phoenix of Coronation Street fame and her partner Tony Booth, father of Cherie Blair. 

Bryn, who had given up smoking and drinking in the '80s, died of a heart attack in the middle of Glasgow's George Square.

LP Brevmin writes: The Express was acknowledged as a well subbed paper but was unusual in that, unlike rival tabloids, subbed copy was not revised, amended or rewritten by the Chief  Sub before it went to the printer. Any revision was made (too late?) on proof by people such as Cyril Harman (remember him?) or, later, by Dennis Brierley or Dougie Mann.

The practice of subs dropping their own copy down the hole didn’t last long after a certain Kelvin Montmorency Shagnasty Gaylord MacKenzie joined as Night Editor in February, 1981.

On his first day he drew the Chief Sub aside and announced that the Express would adopt the revise system used by the Sun and the Mirror.

‘OK, Kelv. When do you want this to start?’

‘In about five fucking minutes!’

Awards nominee Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee) writes from the Flying Fuck back bar (Rule of Six still applies): I never knew Peter Hedley, of course, but Proddie, the gin-sodden ex Express hack who used to hang around the Drone newsroom before lockdown, says he had a unique casting off system. Not for him tedious word counts.

Instead, he wrote off splashes (he rarely subbed on copy) in tiny, well-formed handwriting with each line the width of an Express single column. 

Every 10 lines was an inch in minion. Simps!

More details on the subs pic

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By DESMOND HACK-SHANKS

Julie Mitchell

The ubiquitous tennis mom became a fixture in the Wimbledon VIP box, fist pumping and gurning at the Beeb’s ever present sycophantic camera crew as her youngest son ground out another turgid point on the greensward below. It seemed to be all about her… until the ghastly Arnie faded as a player and capricious little Sue Barker started to suck up to someone else. But you can’t keep a game girl down and Julie reinvented herself on Celebrity One For the Pot with Steve Davis and Strictly Come Darning. Now, in between takes for her new ITV8 show, Famous Mums of Sulky Sons, she talks (sometimes parenthetically) to the Drone.

Look, I haven’t got long so hush your whisst and get on with it. No, forget Arnie, I was the real star … until he got a wife. Typically, he couldn’t marry the girl next door. Oh no, not him. She’s an absolute fucking stunna (as my mates on the Star say). So where do the cameras focus now? Not on McMuggins, you may be sure. Still, I’ve got over all that now. I’ve got my own life to lead. £4,500 non-surgical facelift to banish ‘turkey neck’; the full zygomatic teeth implant experience (with complimentary [and complementary (Nice one — Ed)] whitening): I’m ready for my close-up, buster. The Sky TV’s the limit!

MORE GAFFER TAPES

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DAILY EXPRESS IN-JOKE
Ken Parker goes flying

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WHY THE SUN IS SLOWLY SINKING

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GOING DOWN: News UK boss Rupert Murdoch takes a dip with his wife Jerry Hall on the French Riviera

Our friend and yours Kelvin MacKenzie (No? Please yourself then) has written a terrific piece in The Spectator about the slow decline of  The Sun.

The paper, which Kelvin edited for 13 years, has had its value written down to zero by its owner Rupert Murdoch and is now believed to be selling around 500,000 copies a day, although News UK do not publish circulation figures.

Losses are reckoned to be around £200 million a year and Kelvin reckons that columnists have been told not to use the word “woke" in a disparaging way as it was "synonymous with racial injustice”.

Read Kelvin's article and The Sun’s rebuttal here

Scroll down this page for more on The Sun’s problems

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WHAT MAKES DAN WOOTTEN ANGRY?
Subs who misspell his name

MISCHIEVOUS subs can be absolutely wotten to Wootton.

When Dan worked on The Sun they used to delight in misspelling his name.

Now the problem has followed him to his new career as a TV personality.

Among the many teething problems GB News has faced in its launch week, the one that will have angered Dan Wootton most is the giant on-screen typo that introduced his flagship segment: The Big Question.

Dan, former executive editor of The Sun, hates typos, so much so that the paper’s online subs used to get under his skin for sport, deliberately misspelling his bylines just to see how quickly he'd send a snippy email about it. 

The record was just under ten minutes: "My name is spelt Wootton. Would be nice if some of the online people could show a small degree of respect or actually check something,” he wrote.

POPBITCH asks, somewhat provocatively and without providing any answers:

WHICH GB News host once spent the night in the clink after the police were called to cool down a domestic dispute?

WHICH GB News host was once locked in their dressing room by bosses at a previous job as they were visibly far too hammered to appear on camera?

WHICH GB News host once used a catfish profile on a dating site?

WHICH GB News host was once described by an admiring crew member as so hard-living he "hadn't seen anyone that fucked since my days touring with Joe Cocker in the 60s... and he had an arm full of heroin”?

We do not know, but we think we should be told. However, m’learned friend Cocklecarrot would certainly rule it out — Ed

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The night Panorama’s Mangold was mangled by sneaky Martin Bashir

By ARTHUR TRILBY, He’s totally hatstand

BBC reporter Martin Bashir’s  interview with Diana wasn't the only one he sneaked his way into. 

Former Panorama stalwart Tom Mangold tells a great story about the first time he met Bashir in his memoir, Splashed. 

Mangold, pictured, remembers a then unknown Bashir approaching him meekly in the pub one night, apologising for interrupting his drinking but that he wanted to introduce himself because his brother had died recently and his dying wish had been for Martin to join Panorama. 

Bashir's brother had continued: "If you can, I want you to try to emulate everything that Tom Mangold has done. Learn from him, copy him and, like Mangold, you will become a great reporter."

After saying his piece, Bashir respectfully went to leave but Mangold, touched, asked him to stay for a drink, whereupon he introduced him to a load of his colleagues and made a mental note to do whatever he could to help grant the dying wish of this enterprising young cub's late brother.

Not long after Bashir left the BBC, Mangold was interviewed by an ITV reporter, Michael Nicholson. The two got talking about Bashir when Nicholson remembered a story about the time they'd first met. Bashir had meekly approached Nicholson in the pub, apologising for interrupting his drinking but wanted to introduce himself as his brother had died recently and...

Apparently he span the same yarn with John Humphrys too.

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LIGHTS GO OUT AT  BLACK LUBYANKA

GOODBYE TO ALL THAT: Jean Rook writes the splash for the final edition of the Daily Express to be printed in London’s Fleet Street before its move to new presses in Docklands. Most of the staff had already moved to new offices over the river in Blackfriars, 17 November, 1989
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Tomorrow’s World 1934

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Forecasting the future can be a dangerous game but this prediction from a 1934 magazine got it nearly right

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SUN HITS ZERO
Titles worth nothing, admits Murdoch as papers lose £200m

THE once mighty Sun and its Sunday sister are  now officially worth nothing.

Rupert Murdoch has written down the value of the titles to zero as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic helped to fuel a £200m loss at his flagship newspapers.

There was better news at The Times and The Sunday Times, which boosted profits to £10.3m.

Advertising and sales revenues at The Sun and The Sun on Sunday plummeted, with turnover falling by 23 per cent from £419.9m to £324m in the year to the end of June 2020.

The torrid market conditions, coupled with one-off charges related to ongoing legal action over allegations of historical phone hacking, led to pretax losses more than tripling from £67.8m in 2019 to £201.4m.

As a result News Group Newspapers, the subsidiary of News UK that operates the two titles, wrote down their value to zero. The £84m non-cash “impairment of publishing rights” essentially means the publisher does not believe the titles will return to positive growth.

More than 80 per cent of the Sun’s losses, about £164m, were one-off charges mostly related to phone hacking. They included £52m in fees and damages paid to civil claimants, double the £26m paid out in 2019, and a £26m in costs accounted for as “UK newspaper matters”.

The Sun paid a substantial sum on Thursday to settle a phone-hacking claim brought by the former Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, who claimed reporters wanting to out his sexuality had targeted him illegally.

“The company is exposed to libel claims in the ordinary course of business and vigorously defends against claims received,” News Group said. “The company makes provision for the estimated costs to defend such claims when incurred and provides for any settlement costs when such an outcome is judged probable.”

It was not able to stem losses despite cutting sales and marketing costs by 40 per cent, and cutting staff numbers from 605 to 546. “The company will continue to take various steps intended to offset the impact of Covid-19 by reducing variable costs and implementing cost-savings initiatives,” it said.

The Sun, which Murdoch acquired in 1969 and celebrated its 50th anniversary two years ago, lost its title of the UK’s bestselling newspaper to the Daily Mail last year. 

There was better news for Murdoch’s Times and the Sunday Times, which managed to boost pre-tax profits from £3.7m in 2019 to £10.3m in the year to 28 June 2020. The titles managed to minimise the annual decline in revenue to £20m, with the £330m reported in 2019 falling to £310m last year.

“The decrease in revenue was due to challenging market conditions, with declines in both newspaper circulation and in print advertising, in line with other businesses in the sector and wider economy,” according to Times Newspapers Ltd, the News UK subsidiary that operates the titles.

“This was partly offset by strong growth in digital subscription revenue as well as digital advertising revenue, supported by the implementation of price increases on the Sunday Times during the period.”

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ON YOUR MARX: FOOTBALL FEVER MOUNTS*

WE’RE ONLY HERE FOR THE BEARD, INSIST ENGLAND’S LEFT WING
*UP TO A POINT

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KNEES UP: England expects
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WHO’S THIS READING CHARLIE’S NEW BOOK?

The book is obviously engrossing this former Expressman, but who is he?

He is reading Charlie Sale’s new book The Covers Are Off which tells the story of an acrimonious dispute over the redevelopment old railway tunnels under Lord’s cricket ground in London.

It is said to be a compelling read and has had excellent reviews.

But who is this handsome fellow on the balcony of his home in Bournemouth?

PICTURES BY MONICA GOOZEE

Yes chums, it’s CLIVE GOOZEE, formerly a stalwart of the sports department of Her Majesty’s Daily Express.

Details of Charlie’s book follow ...

Charlie lifts the lid on the civil war at Lord's

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ANOTHER great book by a former Express and Mailman is now available for pre-order.

The author is Charles Sale who worked on the Daily Express sports desk from 1983 to 2001 before joining the Daily Mail where he wrote a popular sports column.

Charlie told the Drone: "I have spent two years researching  the story of the railway tunnels under the Nursery End at Lord’s which have been the subject of  a 20-year Civil War inside the MCC — most of which has been played out without the knowledge of the majority of the 18,000-strong  membership.

"MCC  have turned down  numerous offers  — worth up to £150million to the club — from property developer Charles Rifkind to build residential flats over his tunnels. Rifkind bought the lease and later the development rights for the tunnels from under the noses of the MCC at an auction in 1999.

"An added interest for Express readers is that Rifkind’s country house in the Oxfordshire village of Denchworth was once the family home of Lord Beaverbrook."

The Covers Are Off, by Charles Sale, is published by Mensch Publishing. It is available now on Amazon and Wisden.com.

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AND NOW … A SLOW NEWS DAY SPECIAL
Python apes bear

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HIT IN THE WOODS: For reasons the Daily Drone picture desk cannot readily explain, this is the late Monty Python star Terry Jones dressed as Rupert Bear. Rupert, a Daily Express feature for 100 years, lives in Nutwood appropriately enough and is still delighting readers.

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HOW FAKE NEWS WORKS The picture that claims to prove Farage is selling boats to migrants

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What’s this? Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage setting up shop in Calais flogging dinghies to would-be illegal immigrants? It certainly looks like it.

And fellow Brexiteer MP Mark Francois (crazy name, crazy guy) appears to have set up shop next door.

But, as you may have suspected, all is not what it seems.

This picture has been widely circulating on the internet and, much as we would love to believe it, it is a fake.

It is actually a doctored photograph of a marine shop in Pevensey Bay. The original is illustrated below. It has been adjusted by someone who is skilled on the use of Photoshop. 

Clever isn’t it? It is obviously meant as a joke.

But it is a classic example how false stories — and pictures — circulate these days. 

The moral, of course, is to get your news from newspapers. They always get it right. Oh yes.

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DRONE TV
The life of James Cameron, great Daily Express foreign reporter and TV raconteur 

IF you have 47 minutes to spare this superb BBC2 documentary first broadcast in 1984 is well worth a watch.

It features the great foreign correspondent and former Expressman James Cameron talking about his distinguished career with candour.

Cameron, a Londoner, began as an office dogsbody with the Dundee-based Weekly News in 1935. Having worked for several Scottish newspapers and for the Daily Express in Fleet Street, he was rejected for military service in World War II. 

After the war, his experience of reporting on the Bikini Atoll nuclear experiments turned him into a pacifist and a founding member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. He continued to work for the Express until 1950, after which he briefly joined Picture Post, where he and photographer Bert Hardy covered the Korean War. 

Tom Hopkinson, the editor of Picture Post, lost his job as publisher when he defended the magazine's coverage of atrocities committed by South Korean troops at a concentration camp in Pusan. Cameron wrote, "I had seen Belsen, but this was worse. This terrible mob of men — convicted of nothing, un-tried, South Koreans in South Korea, suspected of being 'unreliable’." The founder of the Hulton press, Edward G. Hulton, decided to kill the story. Hopkinson, Hardy and Hulton all appear in the programme.

Cameron then spent eight years with the News Chronicle which he described as his favourite popular newspaper.

In 1965, he wangled his way into North Vietnam for interviews and photos (with photographer Romano Cagnoni) of Ho Chi Minh and other top leaders.

Cameron became a broadcaster for the BBC after the war, writing and presenting such television series as Cameron Country, and numerous single documentaries. 

Seldom seen without a cigarette in his hand, James Cameron died of a stroke in his sleep on 26 January 1985, a few months after the BBC2 programme was broadcast. He was 73.

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Out after 70 years of extra time, Giller’s great book on Spurs

SPORTS writer Norman Giller, of this parish, has finally finished his book on Tottenham Hotspur. It has only taken him 70 years.

It is, he says, “a collection of the most memorable (and lowest) moments of my Spurs watch from the push and run days of Arthur Rowe's team through to the trials, tribulations and triumphs (?) of José Mourinho's era". 

Giller adds: "It is introduced by my pal Steve Perryman, who wants you to know I'm sharing any profits with the Tottenham Tribute Trust to help our old heroes who missed the gravy train."

Skilful tour de force by
a master craftsman

ROBIN McGIBBON loves the book. Here is his review.

In trying to find a phrase that sums up Norman Giller’s awesome tribute  to the soccer team he has adored most of his life, tour de force springs to mind: a performance or achievement accomplished with great skill, says my Oxford dictionary.

 My Seventy Years of Spurs is, most certainly, that. But it is far, far more. Oh, yes!

 It is an exceedingly well-researched book, written with love, by the most prolific national newspaper journalist of his generation — or any other generation come to that!

 Giller’s literary output over the past 60 years is nothing short of phenomenal. He is a master craftsman of the written word, who clearly loves writing as much as he loves watching Spurs. The book is unique in that no one, in my opinion, could have pulled it off in such masterly fashion.

 Covering 70 years of a football life had its dangers. Giller could have got bogged down in facts and figures and given us a tedious tale, but not a bit of it: his narrative is bright and entertaining, crammed with revelatory inside stories that only a well-connected, trustworthy reporter could have obtained.

 And not once does his sentimental journey lose pace; not even at the end when he is describing events in real time to ensure that the book is as up to date as possible.

 As an author myself, I’ve always felt that if you mix entertaining inside knowledge with a personal passion, you will get a memorable book.

 This, unquestionably, is what Norman Giller has produced. And I hugely recommend it to everyone lucky enough to have thrilled to the magic played out on the field of dreams that was White Hart Lane. 

BUY NORMAN GILLER’S BOOK HERE

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TODAY ONLY IN YOUR DRONE, THE SECOND INSTALMENT OF A WEEKLY SERIALISATION

Pirates of Fleet Street 

The year is 1970 and a postal strike is crippling deliveries. Step forward journalist Victor Waters who helped keep the mail flowing from his Fleet Street offices.

He organised a rabble of entrepreneurs who took it on themselves to uphold Britain's proud traditions of private enterprise. Their endeavours kept the mail flying, floating and, very occasionally, dropping into letter-boxes. 

Unfairly dubbed pirates by some, they were truly privateers, working on Her Majesty's Service. And in the best traditions of their sea-going ancestors, they made a few bob wherever they could. 

Now you can read all about it in our serialisation of Victor’s book, Pirates of Fleet Street.

Chapters 1 and 2

 Chapters 3 and 4

Chapters 5 and 6

Chapters 7 and 8

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DRONE OPINION
Dacre was a nightmare editor but he should still get the Ofcom job

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FORMER Daily Mail splash sub MARGARET ASHWORTH, says working under editor Paul Dacre was a nightmare — but she believes he would make an excellent chairman of Ofcom.

"He would often be so angry that he could barely get the insults out,” she writes, adding, “he will take it as a compliment that he was a nightmare to work for."

Despite all the brickbats and insults Margaret believes he should still get the Ofcom job.

Dacre is understood to be Boris Johnson’s nominee for the post but the race to become chairman of the communications regulator is to be rerun after Facebook and Google lobbied to stop the former Daily Mail editor getting the job.

READ MARGARET ASHWORTH'S PERCEPTIVE PIECE HERE

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SCHOOLS LATEST

Who says the UK is a nation led by donkeys?

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LET US BRAY: Education Secretary (yes, honestly) Gavin Williamson
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Shush, we're in Continent

Dear Aunt Marje

This Covid roadmap uncertainty about holidays is really confusing me. Green, amber, red: what the fuck’s going on? Any advice on destinations?

Staycation Sue

Dear SS

It’s difficult, isn’t it? There’s always a temptation to sneak abroad on the quiet in which case a haven in Cognito might do; in Communicado is best if you want to keep it quiet. Best not to be in Cahoots with people who are used to being in Doubt or Sane. Much more preferable to be in Flexible. If you don’t want to be left in Suspense and are desperate, you’re best in Extremis.

Why not liven up Love Island proceedings in Flagrante Delicto or have a few sherbets in Capable?

But don’t delay. Time’s passing. Book now before you find you’re in Continent.

WANT MORE AGONY? IT’S HERE

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Daredevil snapper who took one of the world's most famous pictures

By GRAINNE E SNAPPES, Picture Editor

You will have seen the iconic picture Lunch Atop a Skyscraper many times before. But have you ever wondered who actually took the famous photograph?

Now the story can be told, and here is daredevil snapper Charles C Ebbets casually taking it.

The photograph depicts 11 men eating lunch, seated on a girder with their feet dangling 840 feet above the New York City streets. It was taken on September 20, 1932, on the 69th floor of the RCA Building during the last months of construction. 

The photograph was prearranged. Although it shows real ironworkers, it is believed that the moment was staged by Rockefeller Center to promote its new skyscraper. 

By thumbing its nose at both danger and the Depression, Lunch Atop a Skyscraper came to symbolize American resilience and ambition at a time when both were desperately needed. 

It has since become an iconic emblem of the city in which it was taken, affirming the romantic belief that New York is a place unafraid to tackle projects that would cow less brazen cities. 

Like all symbols in a city built on hustle, the picture has spawned its own economy. It is the Corbis photo agency’s most reproduced image. And good luck walking through Times Square without someone hawking it on a mug, magnet or
T-shirt. 

The photo was first published in the Sunday photo supplement of the New York Herald Tribune on October 2, 1932.

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8. Alma in the doghouse

Hello again. Well, after months of lockdown, Boris’s new roadmap means we have been finally able to take the plunge. Into the public bar of the Ratcatcher’s Arms, that is. 

Early evening. Car park replete with the white vans of thirsty, self-employed artisans. Teddy insisted on the Public when I would have preferred the more sedate Snug. Talk about the Wild West! Bar fell silent as we strode (!) in. Himself called for a tankard of foaming Barty’s Ballbreaker XXX. I, sotto voce, an ice cold Tio Pepe. More strained silence: well, I might just as well have asked for a beaker of virgin’s piss with a cherry and a paper parasol. 

Eventually, amid much teeth sucking from management, it was a schooner of warm amontillado for muggins here. The clientele weren’t exactly rude; they just stared a lot (I told Mr T that his wearing yellow cords and a cravat would be seen as a pisstake). In between playing cards, darts and pool they spent the time having high decibel ‘conversations’ about footie and there was an increasingly filthy story concerning a three-legged poodle and Alma Cogan (nope, me neither). Somehow, I suspect that Teddy’s idea of starting a ukulele group there would fall through the cracks of Frame Hampton’s cultural ambition.

Isn’t it great that practically everything is open again? And ‘throbbing’, as the Boss says (bucket of water here, nurse). He even went up to town last week to meet a couple of pals from the Lion King. Alas, he said that a quiet lunch in Covent Garden was spoiled by a group of geriatric journos on a neighbouring table over-indulging on Peruvian Chicken and expensive red wine and lemonade.  

In the real world, we drove over to Fonthill Bishop and wandered through Great Ridge Wood between the rivers Wily and Nader. Marvellous! The bluebells were at their iridescent best, naturally, but we were particularly bowled over by the bird’s foot trefoil and the purple loosestrife. 

Now Ted announces he’d like to visit the seaside sometime (bless). Billy the Ghillie says Swanage is nice and well within Yaris range. But he advises going before high summer when, apparently, it’s inundated by south London riffraff in string vests and funny hats ‘gettin’ a bit of colour’.

Lastly, I promised to update you on The Dog. Luckily, Teddy did a bit of online sleuthing. When he found out the cost of the blinking things plus food, jabs, neutering, pet insurance and boarding when we finally get to Ibiza, his ardour cooled (tell me about it, ducky). So now we’ve got a rescue moggie which Ted insists on telling everybody is a ‘domestic short haired’. Name? Still the subject of, often bitter, debate: watch this space.

Oliver

More from the Country Boys

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Brillo set to broadcast GB News from France 

By SPIKE DIVER

GB News has finally announced its launch date, but it doesn't seem as if the project's frontman, Andrew Neil, is going to be back to GB in time for the grand début. 

Thanks to travel restrictions, he's been trapped chez Neil in the south of France for the last little while – a country currently on the amber list. 

The whispered workaround? Brillo's show is going to be broadcast from a studio somewhere on the French Riviera. 

Critics will no doubt scoff at the idea of GB News's flagship show getting beamed in from France, but in fairness it was always the plan to break the London media stranglehold. And besides, if you want to take on les élites what better place to find them than the glittering Côte d’Azur?

The channel launches at 8pm on Sunday, 13 June. It is already broadcasting test content on Freeview and YouView Channels 236 and Freesat channel 216.

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Spiked! 'Biased' Dacre dumped from shortlist for new Ofcom supremo

By HAYLEY DALE, Fleet Street Reporter

FORMER Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has had his nomination to become head of Ofcom scrapped because of concerns over his impartiality. 

Dacre, 72, believed to be the personal choice of Boris Johnson, is said to have raised concerns that two of Ofcom’s main board members used to be employed by the BBC. He previously said that while he would “die in a ditch defending the BBC as a great civilising force”, it was too big and needed reform.

Although it appeared the process had been stitched-up for Dacre, when a panel of outside executives and a civil servant finally met to interview the final four candidates, they concluded that he  did not meet certain criteria for the job and was therefore “not appointable”.

The names of three other candidates who did pass the recruitment process were passed to the culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, for a final decision; however, they were rejected.

Ministers could have given the job to Dacre but they would have had to publicly justify the decision to overrule the board. 

The new favourite for the job as  Ofcom chairman is Lord (Ed) Vaizey of Didcot, a former Conservative culture minister.

Dacre always did seem a bit of an odd choice. Renowned on Fleet Street for his profane newsroom outbursts (the notorious Double Cuntings) it would have been terrible for a man of such delicate sensibilities to be put in that particular post.

During his tenure at the Mail, the paper started gunning hard for Cherie Blair. Things got so bad at one point that Dacre had to publicly deny it was down to any personal vendetta, insisting that his only agenda was "good journalism". 

Behind the scenes though, one of the reasons it's always been suspected Dacre had it in for her was that she once dared to breastfeed in front of him at Chequers.

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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.

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Tweet of the Year

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Muldoon’s Lookalike

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                     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 

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We laugh in the face of virus crisis
(but not cough, obviously)

By ROGER De CABIN-GARÇON
Transport Correspondent

A new luxury cruise liner has been launched to combat the Coronavirus crisis.

Fred. Olsen’s Four Towers was built in the Von Rambleshanks yard in Bremerhaven and is currently undergoing sea trials off Dogger Bank.

An Olsen spokesman told the Drone: ‘This an exciting new concept in ocean cruising. The four towers on our iconic new vessel are designed to complement established epodemiodic measures such as self isolation and social distancing.

‘Our guests will be confined to individual staterooms in the four towers enabling them to enjoy a minimum two-week cruise without fear of further risk of contamination or having to converse with riffraff from the North.

‘One bonus is the 360-degree ocean views they will be able to enjoy.’

The spokesman added that they were working on a method of feeding guests using an hydraulic dumb waiter in the centre of the towers but it was still in the early stages of development.

Next week in the Drone: Win a mystery cruise on the Four Towers (only genuine Coronavirus sufferers need apply) 

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A toast to Victor

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Friends of the late Daily Express Showbusiness Editor Victor Davis raise a glass to his memory in a London pub.

With typical generosity, Victor left money in his will for friends and colleagues to have a drink on him.

ALAN FRAME was there to enjoy the fun and has filed this picture special 

Victor, Doyen of showbiz writers

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And now, your wipe-clean Daily Drone brings you, at no extra expense ...

CORONATHAURUS
Our exclusive guide to virus speak

The global pandemic has given us some new words and expressions and has revived some old ones. Here is the indispensable Drone guide to Coronaspeak.

Self Isolation: What Matron used to warn against after lights out.

Social Distancing: Technically, the gap between you and a fart before it loses its impact.

Lockdown: City/country shut off from outside world.

Lock-Up: Where panic-bought goods, especially toilet rolls, are stored. 

Contextual Questioning: When a healthcare professional quizzes you on where you’ve been and what you have been doing to whom.

Epidemiological inexacitude: Healthcare professionals don’t know what the fuck’s going on.

Epidemiological breakthrough: They are forced to admit they haven’t a clue what to do next.

Epidemiological Action Plan: Proof of the above.

We’re working on a vaccine: Please don’t hold your breath: it’s very bad for you.

The over-70s are particularly vulnerable: Yikes! They mean me.

Underlying health condition: If Corona don’t get you summat else will.

Panic buying: Are we running out of toilet rolls again, luv?

We’re all in this together: When a politician resorts to this deathless phrase you are in the shit.

So let’s all unite to beat this menace: He’s self isolating — and social distancing — in his constituency. 

We’re in unchartered territory: I not only don’t know what the fuck’s going on but I can’t speak the Queen’s English either.

The World’s Greatest Lunch Club cancels next meeting: World Health Organisation announces we’re in the shit — official.

John Smith: Name of new WHO director-general after the International Federation of Newsreaders and Continuity Announcers votes to isolate Tedros Anhamon Ghebreyesus.

Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee): Fine example of thrusting post-Brexit Brit determined not to let “foreign” Coronavirus get her down.

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HIS LORDSHIP TAKES DECISIVE ACTION
Drone staff told to work from home

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EARLY DOZING DAY: The editor hard at work last night

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Tin hats on chaps, we'll not let Johnny Covid get us down

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RUNNERS wielding cleft sticks stormed Drone Towers last night with the following Letter to the Editor 

Sir, following your excellent Drone Guide to Coronaspeak, I thought it might be helpful to share my extensive world research on Covid-19 with you and the readers of your excellent and informative internet Wickedpedia of Fleet Street. 

Intelligentsia like yourself and other members of the World's Greatest Lunch Club might find it useful for analyses and intellectual discussion.

I have discovered that the English are feeling the pinch in relation to this virus and have therefore raised their threat level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, level may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” 

The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the Blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. 

The virus has been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to A Bloody Nuisance. The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

 The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let's Get the Bastard.” They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British Army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its alert level  to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” or in Paris "Keep your powder dry”. The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing”. Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides”.

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs”.  They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose”. 

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its alert level from “No worries” to “She'll be alright, Mate”. Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend” and “The barbie is cancelled”. So far, no situation has ever warranted use of the final escalation level.

Yours,
Dr STRANGEGLOVE
Medical Correspondent (freelance). 

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DRONE EXCLUSIVE

The mysterious Hickey writer who turned out to be not all he seemed

FAREWELL HICKEY: Christopher Wilson, second from right in fetching top hat, flanked by Nigel Dempster, right, and Geoffrey Levy, attends the mock funeral in 1987

FORMER William Hickey editor CHRISTOPHER WILSON has a fascinating tale to tell about a mysterious freelance reporter called Nigel who worked on the Daily Express diary for a few months.

His copy was impeccable, his stories extraordinary and he was always first at the bar to buy a round.

All fine then? Up to a point … years later Nigel turned up for Hickey’s mock funeral in Fleet Street and it turned out that he may not have been all that he seemed.

Was he a Fifth Columnist?

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History in Moments

1980: So … here’s an absolutely vivid moment in history: the exact time when police passed authority over the Iranian embassy siege to the Special Air Service. 

The hastily scribbled note from Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Dellow to Lt Col Michael Rose triggered the dramatic rescue of 21 hostages held by Arab terrorists in the embassy in Princes Gate. Covered live on prime time television, Operation Nimrod became a defining chapter in our island’s story and confirmed the SAS as the crème de la crème, the epitome of special forces prowess and excellence.

During the 17-minute raid all but one of the hostages were freed unharmed; five out of the six hostage-takers were killed. (Astonishingly and, some may think, shamefully, the soldiers were later accused of unnecessarily killing two of them but were cleared of any wrong-doing by an inquest jury.) 

The sixth terrorist was convicted and served 27 years in British prisons. After his release he was, surprise, surprise, allowed to stay in the UK and now lives in Peckham, south-east London, under an assumed name.

Of course, there were many acts of heroism that day. But one of the bravest was not a soldier but a policeman who was among the hostages. PC Trevor Lock, who tackled the leader of the gunmen as the raid took place, was awarded the George Medal. 

An SAS sergeant who shot a terrorist about to throw a grenade among the hostages received the Queen’s Gallantry Medal. Three years later Sgt Tommy Palmer was killed in a road accident while on a covert operation in Northern Ireland. He was 31.

Hot ops such as Nimrod rarely go exactly to plan. One staff sergeant abseiling down the embassy roof became entangled in ropes and was badly burned when some curtains caught fire. He fell to the balcony but managed to rejoin the assault. He was later treated in hospital and eventually made a full recovery.

The best of the best, eh?

R.R (t)

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BEACHED DOWN UNDER

Carrying on regardless: Police closed Bondi Beach because young people were ignoring a ban on large gatherings

As Britain shuts all pubs, bars and restaurants, Australia is dealing with Coronavirus at a somewhat slower pace thanks to indecision by Prime Minister Scott ‘SlowMo’ Morrison, reports ROGER TAVENER from Sydney

Fever pitch? Not quite

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History in Moments

By ROSALIE RAMBLESHANKS

1964: So...here’s a cosy scene: proud East End mum sharing tea and biccies with her famous son in the parlour of her Bermondsey home. 

I’ll bet Sir Michael Caine, as he became, was glad of a break: his career was just starting to take off big time. His breakthrough movie Zulu, in which he played, against type, an upper crust army officer, was a smash and he was just about to start filming the spy thriller the Ipcress File, start of a film franchise which was to confirm his potential. 

Now aged 87, he can look back on a 130-film career with justifiable pride. Make no mistake, Caine, born Maurice Micklewhite, is one of Britain’s greatest screen actors. The winner of two Oscars, he is only the second actor to have been nominated in six different decades, the other being Jack Nicholson.

It could have been all so different for Michael White, the stage name he adopted when he started in rep after National Service in the Royal Fusiliers, some of it in Korea. 

As he tried to make a breakthrough in London his agent told him he would have to change his name because there was already a Michael White in the profession. 

Michael, who received the news in a Leicester Square phone box, looked around for inspiration. Seeing a film poster for a big film of the time he chose the name Caine. As he said afterwards, if there hadn’t been a tree in the way he’d have been called Mickey Mutiny. 

We all have our favourite Caine movies. The two Oscar winners, Hannah And Her Sisters or The Cider House Rules.  The Italian Job, of course, Educating Rita and you can’t forget Alfie. 

But to many, the movie role that defines Caine is the eponymous hero Jack Carter in Get Carter! Despite appearing with a company of distinguished actors (even Alf Roberts did a decent turn), Caine dominated every scene. Top man.

Funnily enough, his stand-in on the film was called … Jack Carter. Not many people know that. (Sorry, boss, I know I promised but I couldn’t resist).

R.R. (t)

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LOOKALIKE

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                     MATT                                      MATT

Sir – Judging by his front-page picture in Saturday's Daily Telegraph I think  the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, and the paper's cartoonist, Matt Pritchett, are one-and-the-same person. If so, I do wonder how he manages to cope with both jobs in these difficult times.
M. ATTFAN
Petts Wood

How news of the war got through the Blitz

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FRANK BALDWIN’S grandparents ran three newsagents shops during the war. They had three because two were bombed in the London Blitz — yet still the news got through. His grandfather Charlie McCarthy is pictured outside the shop in Waterloo Road which bore his name and today Frank tells the family's story.

DEFYING THE BLITZ

MACKENZIES IN COOKERY SHOCK
THE BAKER BOYS

Craig makes rock cakes and reveals brother Kelvin has produced a Victoria sponge

CURRANT BUNS: Craig reveals the news on Facebook

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From Ancoats to Fleet Street with Andy Carson

THERE are certain Fleet Street characters who are once seen and never forgotten. One of these was Andy Carson, a great Daily Express backbencher who spoke in a thick Port Glasgow accent.

Jeremy Greenaway had the pleasure of moving down to London from Manchester with Andy and has written a nostalgic account of his experience — which involved sharing a hotel room with Carson.

I was Andy Carson’s interpreter

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WE FAIL TO NAME THE GUILTY MEN
(Except for the chaps in this pic)

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FORMER Daily Starman Tom Fullerton has submitted some great pics of the Express newsroom in Manchester from the good old days.

Lord Drone has struggled to put names to the photos but can do a reasonable job with this one, perhaps because it was probably taken in London. It shows four reporters and a photographer holding joint Reporter of the Year awards with editor Arthur Firth. The awards were for the paper’s coverage on the Iranian Embassy siege in London.

Pictured from left: Iain Black, Peter Hardy, Arthur Firth, Bob McGowan, Peter Mason and photographer John Downing.

MORE PICS DEFINITELY FROM MANCHESTER HERE

Break a leg! My crazy hilarious nights in Great Ancoats Street 

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CLASSIC: The stylish reception hall of the Express building in Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, as it is today

THE stone sub who ruined the night editor’s evening by falling down the stairs and breaking his leg is the stuff of Daily Express legend.

JEREMY GREENAWAY was in the Manchester office that night and witnessed the incident. Better late than never, he has finally filed his report 50 or so years on. He also records how the Chief Sub disappeared and ended up in a Liverpool jail cell.

Later, when Greenaway moved to London, he witnessed a classic outburst by the legendary Ralph Mineards.

MY MAD TIME AT ANCOATS

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Why do young reporters ask such silly questions?

Sir — I, like others, am a fan of your mighty organ you tell us so much about, and currently bored hiding from the old people catchers at this time, so feel moved to write to you over a matter that disturbs me greatly.

I am incensed with the inane and rather silly questions asked by young reporters at the No.10 Coronovirus press conferences. I believe all grave dodgers must feel the same and long for the Resurrections of those mighty Reporters Bob McGowan; Norman Luck, Don Coolican and the like.

I have been so irritated that I was moved to publish this Tweet:

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DOWNING

1940-2020

Behind the Lens, a 2016 tribute. Runtime 34 minutes

ITV 2019 documentary on John Downing. Runtime 23 minutes

LEGENDARY Daily Express photographer John Downing has died nine days before his 80th birthday after a long and brave battle with cancer.

The news was announced by his wife, the pianist Anita D’Attellis. She said: 'Sadly, John passed away at 12.40am this morning.  

'As you know, over the past few months he has put up a strong and brave fight against the cancer, but unfortunately he became very weak recently, deteriorated quickly and became bed-bound about a week ago (we had a hospital bed put up in the lounge).  

'His wish was to stay at home rather than go into a hospice, and I’m so glad that this was possible because of the amazing team of Sue Ryder nurses that came several times a day to care for him.

'The funeral arrangements will be limited to close family only because of the Covid-19 situation, but Bryn [John’s son] and I would like to have an event to celebrate John's life later in the year, when everyone can be invited.

'Please, please do not send flowers — I would much rather you give a donation to the Sue Ryder Palliative Care Hub, who have supported John over the past few months. 

'The nurses do such a wonderful and important job and we have been overwhelmed by their kindnesses. Only yesterday I read about the charity's financial difficulties and I can’t bear the thought that they would cease to exist. 

Former Express reporter KIM WILLSHER, Paris correspondent for The Guardian, said: ‘I am utterly heartbroken to hear of the death of John Downing. Colleague, friend, fabulous photographer and thoroughly decent human being. We will not see his like again. RIP John.’

Fellow photographer TOM STODDART said: 'John was simply the best of his generation and the most generous of men who inspired and mentored so many young photographers.'

INP Media, which made a film of Downing (see below) said in a statement: 'John was a phenomenal photographer who risked his life on countless occasions to capture some truly iconic images, all of which will be remembered just as fondly as the man himself.

TIMES OBITUARY

GUARDIAN TRIBUTE BY KIM WILLSHER

TRIBUTES TO JOHN

MASTER OF PHOTOGRAPHY

GUARDIAN PICTURE GALLERY OF JOHN’S WORK

DOWNING’S WEBSITE

THE DOWNING LEGACY

HULTON ARCHIVE

SUE RYDER EMERGENCY APPEAL


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HAPPY DAYS: Photographer John Downing in Kiev, 1990, on Chernobyl assignment with Express reporter Kim Willsher and their interpreter Vitaly. Kim recalled: ‘The Soviets said drinking vodka stopped the effects of radiation — and, of course, we believed them’

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Former Standard night editor Henshall dies

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FLASHBACK: David Henshall (second from right in specs) working in what would have been the chief sub's chair in Shoe Lane. Andrew Harvey is in the foreground. Charles Wintour, is back centre in white shirt behind a big phone system. Roy Wright is beside him in the Shoe Lane newsroom, London, 21 September 1971. 

Former Standard features secretary Pauline McGowan writes: I spotted another couple of faces, Stuart Kuttner, Mary Kenny showing quite a lot of leg and jolly nice boots and Marius Pope, also my boss and known to us females as Pope the Grope — and boy did he live up to his monikker. Such things now would have resulted in NDAs or promotion? Possibly. However, it was all part and parcel of being amongst that great group of talent that was the Evening Standard. Boy I miss that. 

Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

FORMER Evening Standard night editor David Henshall has died at the age of 90.

Henshall later became editor of the Ipswich Star in the 1990s.

Former Standard and Express sub Peter Steward told the Drone: 'David gave me my first job in Fleet Street if, like me, you count Charles Wintour's Evening Standard as Fleet Street. 

'He was managing editor in 1976 when he gave me my chance. At the Standard in those days managing editor was the equivalent of a daily paper's night editor. He  also worked on the Daily Mail  and eventually moved back to Suffolk.

His daughter Ruthie Henshall was to become a West End singing star.

A couple of years ago the Standard organised a reunion for people who worked on the paper prior to its move from Shoe Lane into the Black Lubyanka. I contacted David to see if he could make it and this is part of his reply.

'I am still writing the column I started in the East Anglian Daily Times 25 years ago and a bit of theatre which keeps the little grey cells working.

'I have lost one lobe of my lungs to cancer, six inches off my tailpipe to a similar growth and have a worrying aneurysm that is being watched. Apart from that and a bit asthma, I am reasonable fit creeping up on 88. On the plus side, I have gained two titanium hips that work a treat.

East Anglian Daily Times obit

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THE WAY WE WERE

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Planning the edition at the Daily Express offices in Fleet Street in the mid-1980s are, from left: News Editor Philippa Kennedy, Deputy Editor Leith McGrandle, Editor Nick Lloyd, Deputy Night Editor Dick Dismore, Reporter (standing in as News Desk No.2 ) Bob McGowan, and Associate Editor Bernard Shrimsley. Health and safety might have something to say about the elctrical arrangements today

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All about Iris

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BROLLY GOOD: Iris was still going strong in 1975 … but mention of sunny periods was definitely not allowed

MANY readers have been puzzled by the Iris Says weather line on the Daily Drone’s front page.

Grizzled old hacks will remember the young lady well. Back in the 1970s Iris was a feature of the Daily Express Weather Service. 

In those days most of the forecast was compiled by the news sub-editors and part of that task was to choose an Iris cartoon and write a suitable caption. 

And then, as a depression moved in from the executive suite, she got dumped. 

The Express had no shortage of editors who processed with regularity through the revolving doors. One editor, it could have been one of three or four, made it his first task to scrap the daily Iris. And still the circulation sunk like a setting sun.

Sadly, memory of the once-famous Iris has been lost in the shrouds of time but the Drone’s team of researchers are delving into the archive to see if they can find more evidence of the Daily Express weather girl.

Former Daily Express editor Chris Williams told the Drone: "Gazing as I do upon your proud organ, I was pleased to see that weather girl Iris is once more enjoying  her place in the sun.

"Iris was still in situ when I joined the Express in 1977. Her meteorological musings were usually the responsibility of the newest sub. 

"On my first day I was briefed by the legend that was Les Diver who told me: 'You can write anything you like, but just remember that Iris does NOT have periods. Not rainy, not sunny and definitely not heavy’."

Terry Manners writes: Nice to hear from our dear old mate Chris Williams on his days with Legendary Les and Iris, our weather girl. But putting the romantic memories of the 70s aside, let us not forget that doing the weather created a low depression across the subs table at the start of the mainstream 3.30 news shift.

Subs would keep their heads down against the prevailing wind and look busy as Les, pencil behind ear, would scour the room for his victim.

Then he would approach like a hurricane with the red or blue, hardcover, tatty foolscap book crammed with Moon and Sun times; tide tables and ski-resort temperatures for the unlucky sub who received a punch on the arm ... and then have to pour over the data before sending the boring details for to the Stone for setting, along with the Artwork No. for Iris ... smiling, in a raincoat, with a brolly or boots or with the wind blowing up her skirt. Ughh! What a chore.

Worse ... once every 12 months some unlucky victim would have to paste into the weather book all the tables, cartoons, facts and figures for the whole of the new year to come. Fond memories? Mmmmm. Only of Les.  

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YOUNG WISLON

NOVELIST and former Daily Express William Hickey editor Christopher Wilson delighted his friends on Facebook with this charming study of himself back in the day. 

Wislon told the Drone: 'That pic was taken when I was a newly-arrived reporter on the Daily Mail, aged 23, when it was still a broadsheet. That they were employing people like me I think convinced David English it was time to make his pre-emptive strike in closing the Sketch and annexing the big paper.

'I and many others were turfed out in the Night of the Long Envelopes, and I ended up in a dusty cupboard at the Sunday Telegraph. 

'When I got there Perry Worsthorne, then dep ed, took me into his office: 'I hear you're from the Daily Mail. Well, you may find here that time hangs heavy on your hands. I suggest you start a book”.

'Me: Oh, I don't think I could be seen sitting round the office reading. Wouldn't it be better if I...

'PW (witheringly): "WRITE a book, Mr Wilson, write a book."

'I didn't stay long.'

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VIC GILES
1927-2020

Design genius dies at 92

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DOING WHAT HE LOVED: Vic at the Express

NEWSPAPER design maestro Vic Giles, the genius behind the Murdoch Sun who later worked his magic on the Daily Express, died on May 24, 2020, in a care home nine weeks after the death of his wife June. He was 92 and had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

He leaves a daughter Jackie and grandson Christopher. His son-in-law Stephen Wood has written a heartfelt tribute exclusively for the Daily Drone.

DESIGNER WITH A FLAIR FOR THE ORIGINAL

VIC’S GREAT LAYOUTS

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THE SIEGE TEAM

Award-winning reporters return from embassy raid

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IT’S 1980 and one day after the ending of the daring and dramatic SAS siege of the Iranian Embassy in London. 

Undaunted, the battle-weary Daily Express reporting team was back in the Fleet Street office.

But who are they and what were they up to?

FIND OUT HERE

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History in Moments

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1932: So...what’s going on here? Mass slope for charity by Express subs? M. Mouse, D. Duck et al queuing for extortionate dodgy “overtime” payments? Patriotic Brits waiting to laud famous aviatrix outside iconic Fleet Street newspaper office? 

Ah, that’s it. The lady in question, the fabulously glamorous Amy Johnson, had just set the air speed record for a solo flight from London to Cape Town in a De Havilland Puss Moth. She already held the record for the first solo flight by a woman to Australia and, despite competition from the new talkies stars of Thirties Hollywood, was one of the most famous women in the world. 

Capt W.E. Johns, of Biggles fame, even used her as the model for his series of war adventures featuring Flying Officer Joan Worralson in Worrals of the WAAF, who, according to my grandfather (AKA Randy Rambleshanks, Scapegrace of the Remove), was just the game gel to set a chap’s pulses racing between prep and lights out. 

Naturally, when war broke out the real life Worrals did her bit, ferrying RAF planes around the country as part of the Air Transport Auxiliary. 

Amy, pictured, died while flying an Airspeed Oxford from Prestwick to RAF Kidlington in Oxfordshire in January, 1941. Off course because of adverse weather, she ran out of fuel and bailed out as her plane crashed into the Thames estuary near Herne Bay. Naval vessels nearby tried to save her in heavy seas as snow continued to fall. Amy was briefly seen calling for help. Then she vanished beneath the waves. She was 39.

R R (t)

MEDIA HITS AND MYTHS

An occasional series by SPIKE DIVER

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Q. Would you be inclined to say that unscheduled and unauthorised drinks breaks put Fleet Street on the slippery slope?

A. Dear me, No. Newspaper circulations have been on the slide for years, a situation exacerbated by the dawn of the digital age. In the early sixties the Express peaked at 4,328,000; before Coronavirus it was under 300,000; fewer now. Rest assured, comrades, it wasn’t all our fault.

No, Fleet Street and drink have always been sodden bedfellows. Any excuse. At the Express, morning conference, usually at 11, coincided with old-fashioned pub opening hours and signalled a mass exodus of reporters and other parched riffraff. Mind you, some star writers (Jon Akass comes to mind) would go straight to the pub to compose their offerings before actually reporting for work.

And as the senior execs filed into evening conference many subs would file out to the pubs where reporters would already be refuelling after a hard day’s toil. Trouble was, no one was filing or subbing any copy.

Popping out for a quick livener/heart starter/attitude adjuster became de rigeur throughout the evening all helped by the fact that the old Black Lubyanka had 13 different entrances and exits. (When we moved to Blackfriars there was only one: yikes!)

Subs being subs, they started competing: who took the most illicit breaks and how long they were away from the desk. Soon a trophy was put up: the curiously named Lopes Cup, pictured above. It took the Back Bench a full half hour (make that three seconds) to crack the fiendish, cunningly-devised, Enigma-like anagram.

Thus, sloping entered the lexicon.

You could always tell the dedicated sloper: he’d be the one in shirt sleeves crossing a wintry Fleet Street when the wind chill made it minus 11. He’d be the one who’d suddenly appear at his desk with fresh snow, like silver braid, melting on his shoulders.

Competition to carry off the gleaming (actually it’s pewter — Ed) trophy was intense. Once, a leading candidate, the much missed John “Bertie” Brooks, arranged for John, the office driver, to pick him up from the London hospital where he had been admitted for routine treatment, and convey him to the office clad in NHS jim-jams and dressing gown.

Alas, his bid for victory was snubbed by a shadowy Lopes Cup committee. It ruled that sloping to work was an oxymoron and he was sent back to matron. Bertie had form for this sort of thing. Once, outraged because he had been put on the stone, he turned up for his tussle with the Inkies in white tie and tails.

Senior boys on the Back Bench, who were allowed to stay up very late, rarely drank during normal licensing hours. They had to make do with ‘afters’ chez Jean at the Harrow or the soulless Press Club and the risk of long, perilous inquests on stalled careers with a recalcitrant, florid Scot.

Often in the early hours their drinking companions were very large City policemen in full uniform but Fleet Street superstar Richard Littlejohn, then on the Standard, recently shared with readers of his Mail column the reminiscence of how he was caught up in a police “befores” raid on the Cartoonist at 10.45 in the morning.

He recalls: ‘They proceeded to take names: who are you and what do you do? Shaw, Old Bailey correspondent, Evening Standard. Littlejohn, industrial correspondent. Leith, transport correspondent. Stevens, chief crime correspondent.

‘Turning to the other member of our school, the sarge said, sarcastically: “And I suppose you’re the religious affairs correspondent of the Evening Standard.”

‘“No. I’m the head of the Flying Squad. Now sod off!”’

Additional research: Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee)

Next in Media Hits and Myths: Should one be wary of ‘one size fits all’ rough ends of green pineapples? A physician writes.

HAPPY DAZE! Tom Brown’s Fleet Street pub crawl

‘Pished? Course we’re pished: it’s the subs’ Christmas do for fuck’s sake. When we finish our puds we’ll go back and hide under the desks making duck noises until the Back Bench begs us to come out. Won’t we, Bings?’

(Dear Editor, any chance of a little piccie to illustrate this?)

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MEMORIES OF STAR SNAPPER MONTE

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THIS atmospheric picture of London’s Shaftesbury Avenue, taken in 1954 by the Daily Mirror’s Monte Fresco and published in the Drone last week, has inspired former Expressman ROBIN McGIBBON to write a tribute to his old friend.

Fresco, who died in 2013 aged 77, was noted for humorous photographs of sporting events. He covered seven World Cups, many European Championships and more than 40 FA Cup Finals.

His uncle, Monty Fresco, was a sports photographer for the Daily Mail. His nephew, Michael Fresco, has carried on the family tradition as a Fleet Street sports photographer.

Monte is known on Fleet Street to this day for his sense of humour and for turning sports photography into a distinct discipline separate from news photography. 

He is said to have coined the terms ‘Smudgers' for photographers and 'Blunt Nibs' for writers.

MY HIGH LIFE WITH MONTE

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Solemn moment Daily Sketch staff learned the paper was folding

The faces are gloomy and not without reason — this historic picture was taken in 1971 as acting editor Lou Kirby told the staff of the Daily Sketch that the paper was closing.

Many of the staff found other jobs, including Kirby and Sketch editor David English who switched to their sister paper the Daily Mail. English became editor and Kirby deputy.

The only people we can identify in this picture are Alan Frame, rear centre, and Jon Zackon, far left, looking into the centre of the room. The proximity of the man in the white coat, who we think is a librarian, is purely incidental.

ALAN FRAME comments: "What a delight to see the picture of the Sketch staff hearing the news of its (and their) demise. And well spotted! It is Your Humble Servant posing languidly in the centre, probably because my great mentor David English had already told me I was to join him on the Mail. 

"In front of me is Harvey Mann who became picture editor of the Mail on Sunday's You magazine and to my immediate left is my brilliant pal Richard Shears, long-time Mail man in Sydney. Next to him is Jack Davies the night editor who I think retired. The chap with the Col Blimp moustache towards the front is Geoffrey someone-or-other who was a star snapper.

"Fashion Note: Didn’t we all look smart in our Burton suits and polyester ties?”

JIM DAVIES: "It was indeed a sad day — though I had left nine years earlier at the beginning of the Sixties and was already on the Express. I had two very happy years  there though and many talented colleagues were just thrown onto the street. The moustachioed snapper Alan mentioned was Geoff White.”

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MIDDLE MEN: Roy Povey, centre, and behind him on the middle bench are Rod Jones, Dave Morgan and Keith Ging

RARE PICTURE OF TOP SLOPER AT HIS DESK

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HARD AT WORK: Bertie Brooks is in the foreground with the late Simon Crookshank behind him. Also pictured, standing from left, are Elaine Canham, Mike Graham, Chris Williams, editor Richard Addis and Wendy Fuller. Terry Evans, who is also no longer with us, can be seen in the background speaking on the picture desk phone                Picture: Getty

HONESTLY, the things one finds on the internet. While idly scrolling through Getty Images the Drone’s team of researchers  discovered this pic of the Daily Express Blackfriars newsroom the day after the death of Princess Diana in 1997.

And there in the foreground is a rare study of champion sloper John ‘Bertie’ Brooks at his workstation for once. 

Bertie, who died in 2005, was one of the great Fleet Street characters and a dear friend to many of us. The way he struggled to work while crippled with multiple sclerosis was an inspiration.

Another view of the newsroom is below with sub-editor Roy Povey in the foreground. 

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Would this Daily Express advert from 1987 tempt you to buy the paper?*

*Another in our series of headlines to which the answer is No. (But at least the ad must have been cheap to produce)
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HISTORY IN MOMENTS

Big Gunn who ruled the old Daily Sketch

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IT can be a tough job editing a national newspaper and very few succeed at the job. Ask anyone who worked on the Daily Express for more than a few months.

An exception is Bert Gunn, who edited the Daily Sketch from 1953 to 1959 during which time he doubled the paper’s circulation.

Gunn, who died in 1962 aged 58, started as a reporter for the Kent Messenger before moving to the Straits Times in Singapore. 

He returned to the UK to work at the Manchester Evening News, then the London Evening News and the Evening Standard. He had two sons: Thom Gunn, later a poet, and Ander Gunn, who became a photographer.

In 1936, Gunn became the first northern editor of the Daily Express, then in 1943 became managing editor. He wrote the headline "It's That Man Again", referring to Hitler, which later became the title of a popular radio show.

Gunn was appointed editor of the Evening Standard in 1944 but Lord Beaverbrook disagreed with his plans to adopt a more populist approach and he left in 1952. 

In 1959 Gunn left the Sketch to edit the Sunday Dispatch but this was merged with the Sunday Express in 1961. He resigned from Associated Newspapers in 1962.

The Daily Sketch survived until 1971 when it was merged with the Daily Mail.

Scroll down this page for more on the Sketch.

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An Expressman writes ...

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From The Times, July 13

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BELL'S END
Guardian sacks cartoonist Steve amid allegations of racism and anti-semitism

CARTOONIST Steve Bell is to leave the Guardian this month after the paper confirmed his contract will not be renewed. 

Bell has caused significant controversy for the Grauniad, notably depicting Benjamin Netanyahu as a puppet master of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump, and depicting Labour’s antisemitism crisis as a witch hunt. 

Many people view him as the Guardian’s most talented cartoonist but he was widely accused of racism after depicting Priti Patel, below, as a bull. 

The British Tamil Conservatives protested: “It’s anti-Hindu. It portrays the Home Secretary, of Hindu origin, as a cow. A sacred symbol for Hindus. It’s racist and misogynist. It’s plainly unacceptable. It may constitute a hate crime.”

Guardian editor Kath Viner announced that the paper was axing 180 jobs last week. But the decision not to renew Bell’s contract is said to be unrelated to the latest round of redundancies.

Bell first joined the Guardian in 1981 and he has frequently sparked controversy with his caricatures.

A cartoon showing the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as a puppeteer controlling British political leaders William Hague and Tony Blair, was criticised by the Community Security Trust’s Dave Rich as comparable to those featuring  in Nazi publications, the Jewish Chronicle reported last night.

Last July, Bell attacked his editors' refusal to run a cartoon featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Labour deputy leader Tom Watson, suggesting it is due to "some mysterious editorial line" about antisemitism.

In the drawing, pictured below, Watson was  depicted as an "antisemite finder general" for being critical of Jew-hate in the party, said the JC.

He was shown to be  encountering the Israeli PM and calling him an "antisemitic trope".

Mr Netanyahu was playing with Donald Trump and Boris Johnson puppets and Mr Watson apologised, saying, "I thought you were members of the Labour Party”.

I’m stunned, says Steve Bell

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MACKENZIE BITES BACK
Shamefully omitted from the BBC documentary, Kelvin gives his side of Rupert Murdoch story

FORMER Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie has come out fighting in defence of Rupert Murdoch following an extraordinary TV snub.

Inexplicably left out of the BBC’s three-part documentary on his old boss, he has written a brilliant article for The Spectator about his experiences working for Murdoch.

And, as you would expect, he has not held back, accusing the programme makers of peddling one-sided bile.

There's more ... Craig MacKenzie revealed yesterday that his brother is writing a book entitled Murdoch and Me and Other Madmen. 

"A movie is in the works — it’s going to get messy,” says Craig.

You have been warned.

Beat the paywall and read Kelvin’s Spectator article free of charge on the Drone. You’re welcome.

The real Rupert Murdoch

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Daredevil Tom, forgotten hero of the Daily Express 

The extraordinary wartime exploits of Expressman Tom Dobney can be told today.

Tom became the youngest airman in the RAF when he lied about his age and signed up at the age of 14.

Thirty years later, when Sunday Express editor John Junor heard of the young pilot’s derring-do, he instructed his reporters to scour the country to track Tom down.

The investigators drew a blank … but in an amazing twist of events it turned out that the answer to their quest was on their doorstep.

RIPPING YARN OF EXPRESSMAN TOM

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GUESS WHO’S 60?

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HAVE you worked it out yet? Yes chums it’s Mike Graham, formerly of this parish and now a celebrated radio broadcaster.

This picture was taken in New York in the 1980s where Mike ran a news agency.

He later joined the Daily Express where he rose through the ranks from reporter to assistant editor. After a spell as editor of the Scottish Daily Mirror he moved into radio in 2006.

Mike now hosts the mid-morning weekday show on TalkRADIO, taking over at 10am from his former Express colleague Julia Hartley-Brewer, who helped him celebrate his 60th birthday, below.

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Massed ranks of Fleet Street’s finest, 1997

FORMER Daily Express photographer TOM STODDART posted this picture on Twitter to celebrate World Photography Day. It shows Fleet Street's photographers in action as newly-elected Prime Minister Tony Blair arrives in Downing Street on 2nd May, 1997 after winning the General Election.

OLD FOLKS’ DAY OUT

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TWO elderly gents rest their weary bones by the riverside in Lincoln. Discerning folk may recognise them as former Expressmen Roger Watkins, left, and Terry Manners.

It was, we suspect a social visit, not that you would deduce that from the caption supplied by Mr Watkins: 'Former Express hacks during rehearsals in Lincoln for a socially-distanced production of Waiting for Godot (“Dire: do not bother” — Q Letts, Sunday Times) and, below, in their back bench days.'

Mr Manners put it differently: 'Observing social distancing with my grandad in Lincoln today.'

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DRONE PICTURE EXCLUSIVE
The mad world of Andy ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Carson

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HERE’S a picture that sums up the fun of the national press in its heyday.

The print was found among the memorabilia at art genius Vic Giles’s flat in the Barbican, London, by his son-in-law Expressman Stephen Wood.

Dated October 1981, it is an intriguing snap from Vic’s time at the Daily Star in Manchester.

We can’t fill in all the spaces but pictured, from left, are: Bob Coole; unidentified; Jeff McGowan, Daily Star news editor; unidentified; Vic Giles and Ray Mills. Grovelling on the floor is Andy Carson. 

The caption on the back in Ray Mills’s handwriting reads: “Andy ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Carson in typical pose.”

Can anyone throw any light on the mystery men?

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PORKALIKE
with ROSALIE RAMBLESHANKS (trainee)

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CARLIN                                   PARRY

So … spooky or what? Not Mike Parry, although, to be honest, he can be a bit scary. No, I mean his resemblance to fellow journalist John Carlin. 

Both are in their mid-sixties, went to good schools and are university educated. 

Carlin, born to a Scottish father and Spanish mother, started in journalism on the Buenos Aires Herald writing about football, politics and film. He has enjoyed a successful career writing in both English and Spanish and has won many awards. 

He is best known for his work on The Times, Sunday Times, the Independent and the Toronto Star as well as broadcasting for, alphabetically, ABC, BBC and CBC. A book he wrote on Nelson Mandela formed the basis of the well received 2009 film Invictus.

Parry, more correctly Michael Alan Newton-Parry, is, by comparison, more of a journalistic grunt, although he enjoyed a respectable career in Fleet Street notably as an industrious news editor on the World’s Greatest Newspaper. 

For a time he was press officer for the Football Association and went on to make a name for himself on talkRADIO and, later, talkSPORT, forming amusing double acts with the likes of Alan Brazil and another former Express exec, Mike Graham. 

Indeed, he and Graham even toured the halls with their live Two Mikes show but later fell out and went their separate ways. Parry had serious health problems in 2004 but fought back admirably and resumed his radio and TV work. He left talkSPORT a year ago and now inhabits somewhere he calls Planet Porky. Nuff said. 
R.R. (t)

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HISTORIC FRONT PAGES

Daily Express, September 24, 1938

Last night in Fleet Street on the Daily Express backbench

FINAL EDITION: The year is 1989 and Daily Express night editor Terry Manners speaks on the backbench telephone during the paper's last night at its iconic offices in Fleet Street, London. Also pictured are art supremo Tim Holder and backbencher Dick Dismore. The circulation manager is in the background.

This picture, along with six others, have been unearthed by former night news editor Terry Chinery.

SEE THE REST OF HIS PICS HERE

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IDENTITY CRISIS
Year the Express changed its title piece three times in as many days (well, there was a General Strike on)

May 11, 1926: Bold sans caps

May 8, 1926: An elegant light serif

May 13, 1926: Traditional Gothic

The General Strike lasted nine days, from 4 to 12 May, 1926. It was called by the TUC in an unsuccessful attempt to force the Government to act to prevent wage reductions and worsening conditions for 1.2 million locked-out coal miners. 

Some 1.7 million workers walked out, especially in transport and heavy industry and the printers joined them, reducing newspapers to single news sheets. 

The government was prepared, and enlisted middle class volunteers to maintain essential services. There was little violence and the TUC gave up in defeat.

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MEDIA HITS AND MYTHS

An occasional series by SPIKE DIVER

Picture research by R.R.(t)

Q. Was The Fudge a piece of confectionery provided by the management to keep the late sub awake? 

A. Sweet thought but No. The fudge is jargon for the more confusingly named Stop Press, a device by which a newspaper is able to print late news on the run without, er, stopping the press. On the Express, where it was used until the newspaper went tabloid in1977, it usually consisted of a very short short “printed” on a mini stereo plate (See picture. Rosalie, ahem, this is a fudge from the Evening Standard — Ed) which was inserted in a gap in the full-size Page 1 plate (do try to keep up!).

It was considered a bit of a sin to run with an empty Late News slot even though it was often completely inconsequential, and it was one of the duties of the Late Sub to fill the voracious maw that was the fudge box. 

Trying-to-be-helpful printers were also forever using (and, tiresomely, re-using) any old fudge plate they could find littering the stereo room floor regardless of how old it was.

Thus, a veteran Express hand recalls seeing the classic, all-purpose:

RAVINE DEATH PLUNGE
Forty killed as bus plunges into ravine near Lima, Peru on at least three occasions. 

Late Sub was not a popular shift. Downtable subs and the Express editorial management, although they didn’t appreciate it, were lucky that the paper’s fortunes in the hours after drinks had been taken were in the hands of the calm, gentlemanly, multi-skilled Bob Haylett for many years.

The shift ran from 9pm until 4am (no break) and could easily lull anyone into a sense of false security. Most of the time, of course, it was fairly quiet. Just the odd Lima Ravine Plunge. But after the Back Bench had buggered off for beer and bagels, all hell could be let loose. 

It is said that one stand-in Late Sub blames the first silver hairs in his thatch on one incident in the rapidly changing  Toxteth riots of July, 1981 at 2.15 on a Monday morning when he was very much alone. 

Simultaneously trying to copy-taste, redraw Page 1, sub a new splash, write a new head and stone it in while copy tasting another new splash (Cops Fire CS Gas For First Time On British Mainland) certainly kept him awake.

Alternatively, one could always while away the time by composing fantasy fudges for major historical events such as:

CORE BLIMEY!
Gravity discovered as apple falls on boffin near Grantham, Lincs

KINGDOM SWAP BID
Doomed monarch fails in bid to swap kingdom for horse at Bosworth near Leicester

LOVERS DEATH PACT
Star-crossed lovers die in suicide pact after family feud in Verona, Italy

HERO KILLED IN BATTLE
One-armed, one-eyed admiral killed as Navy routs French in battle off Cadiz, Spain

Next in Media Hits and Myths: Is it possible to grow your own rough ends of green pineapples in the UK climate and will Rosalie Rambleshanks ever graduate from being a trainee?

FUDGE: This stereo plate was used for breaking news

LATE SUB: Bob Haylett, left, on his normal Back Bench perch
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Farewell to Jimmy, great sub-editor and one of the good guys

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LAST DAYS OF FLEET STREET: Jimmy working his Saturday evening shift on the Sunday Express, 1989 Picture: KEITH MARTIN

The Drone is saddened to announce the death of former Daily and Sunday Express sub-editor James ‘Jimmy' Humphrey. He was 73.

Jimmy, who had been ill for some time, died in an air ambulance in France on Monday night following a heart attack.

He had lived in the Dordogne village of Corgnac-sur-L’Isle for many years with his partner Leigh Andrews.

This picture of Jimmy, looking uncharacteristically grim, was taken from the TV last year when he appeared on BBC Breakfast discussing Brexit.

He said he was worried about continuing to receive free health care after undergoing three recent operations in France.

Lord Drone said last night: ‘Jim was a lovely man with a ready smile and winning giggle despite travelling regularly by the dreaded RyanAir from France for his regular Saturday shift.

‘He was one of the subbing greats and will be greatly missed.’

His friend and colleague Keith Martin said: 'Jimmy first moved to Fleet Street in his early twenties from the Coventry Evening Telegraph, joining the news subs on the Evening Standard, then based in Shoe Lane, in about 1973. 

'He quickly excelled in his favourite role of copy taster and later deputising as foreign editor.

'A heart condition prompted his early retirement from the Standard in the late 90s, where he had worked for more than 25 years, and he moved from Brighton to the Dordogne region of south-west France, a country he loved. 

'He carried on working as a staff casual at the Daily and Sunday Express, where he had done a regular Saturday shift for several years, changing his day a week to a week a month, commuting from France. He eventually retired five or six years ago.

'While living in Brighton, Jimmy served time as a Conservative councillor, but fell out with his fellow Tories over rail privatisation, leaving the party and, eventually, the council.

'In 2013 Jimmy married his long-term partner Leigh Andrews, shortly after same-sex marriages were legalised in France.

'A seasoned raconteur, full of stories about many of the larger-than-life characters he had worked with during his many years in Fleet Street, he will be greatly missed by all who knew him and by those who had the privilege of working with him.

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OPINION
Brilliant, yes ... but was Sir Harold Evans really
the greatest editor ever?

By LP BREVMIN
Drone Media Commentator

We all acknowledge the brilliance of campaigning editor Sir Harold Evans who has just died aged 92. He was an extraordinarily talented journalist; certainly one of the best of the last 50 years.

But some excitable obituarists have scrambled to proclaim him The Greatest Editor Of All Time. Really? May I, in all humility, demur?

Evans made his name as the editor of a regional morning newspaper and was trail-blazing editor of the Sunday Times for 14 years (although people tend to forget that he was the shortest serving of the 23 editors of The Times).

Of course, he then went on to be a respected media guru both here and in the States. But the greatest?

We’re to forget the likes of Ben Bradlee, are we? Or a list of other valid candidates, four of whom I have worked with but won’t name?

Bow the knee to Sir Harold by all means. But, surely, the ultimate accolade must still belong to Arthur Christiansen who, for an astonishing 24 years, inspired the World’s Greatest Newspaper when it was the world’s greatest newspaper. And he was the greatest editor.

Additional research by Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee).

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Our trainee Rosalie joins the Gong Show in awards bonanza

Daily Drone trainee Rosalie Rambleshanks has been nominated for two prestigious journalism gongs.

The 22-year-old reporter has been shortlisted as Young Digital Journalist of the Year and as a One To Watch in the Emerging Talent category of the PressGazette British Journalism Awards 2020.

Rosalie has been a temporary intern in the Drone’s head office for a year. A former pupil of Lady Eleanor Holles School, Hampton, she graduated with a 2:2 in Media Studies from De Montfort University, Leicester and is the eldest daughter of motor dealer principal Reggie Rambleshanks and his wife, Lavinia, a British Wheel of Yoga teacher, from West Byfleet.

A spokesman for Lord Drone said: ‘So...we are delighted to hear that, er, Rosemary Rumplesheets (trainee) is in line for these awards. She is a credit to herself, the Daily Drone family and journalism itself.’

Rosalie said: ‘So...it’s been an emotional rollercoaster of a year. To be honest, I have only just got used to being mistaken for a crossdressing ceramicist in the street.

‘Although I could never presume to emulate the quality of past Drone series such as the haunting and iconic Last Train to Adlestrop, I am proud to have launched Art Attack and the popular Ask Gipsy Rosalie/Aunt Marge advice columns.’

Media commentator Alan Frame, a former Daily Express Executive Editor, said: ‘So...this is richly deserved. Rosalie has the knack, like all great columnists, of talking directly to the reader. It’s almost as if you know her.’

An awards spokesman said: ‘So...it is most unusual for a trainee to be nominated for any of these awards.’

The winners will be announced at a Virtual Ceremony on December 9.

Who’s written this shite? I’ll believe this when I see it — Ed

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WHY I WAS FIRED FROM THE SUN
By Kelvin MacKenzie as he clears the decks in bid to become BBC chairman (no sniggering at the back there)

OUR chum Kelvin MacKenzie has seen his chance for renewed fame after fellow journalist Charles Moore withdrew from the race to become BBC chairman.

Perhaps sensing that his notoriety may count against him, Kelvin has cleared the air by explaining why Rupert Murdoch sacked him from his Sun column and why he likened footballer Ross Barkley to a gorilla.

Laying out his stall, Kelvin said: ‘I will make the BBC great again by cleaning out all the Lefty and Wokey types.’

Kelvin Tweeted: Although tipped as the next BBC Chairman there are 4 reasons George Osborne  won't get it. 

1) He wouldn't get out of bed for the £160K pay. 

2) Boris wouldn't pick an ardent Remoaner like him.

3) His only media link was as a hopeless editor of the Evening Standard.

4) The job is mine.

Crikey! Lord Drone wishes Mr MacKenzie the best of luck in his mischievous bid for the BBC chair. He’s going to need it.

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DAVID DOES IT AGAIN
Expressman Laws has another book out

YOU can’t keep a good man down, and Expressman David Laws is no exception.

Furloughed from his Sunday Express subbing shift, he has written another thriller, The Fuhrer’s Orphans.

The synopsis reads:

A ragged group of fugitive children are hiding out in a city wilderness in fear of their lives from Gestapo round-ups.

It’s 1940 and their parents have been taken to the concentration camps, but the children have managed to slip away and are sheltering – hungry and desperate – in a disused industrial site in Munich.

Two strangers come together to attempt Mission Impossible; bringing them all out of Germany in the midst of war.

One is a young teacher in the city, the other a British commando with orders to destroy an installation next to the children’s hiding place. He has to decide: follow orders or save the children.

The book is available as a 99p ebook from Amazon (free if you subscribe to KindleUnlimited) and as an £8.99 paperback.

Order from Amazon

Video trailer

Davids website

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IN PRAISE OF THE SUB

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SOMEONE LOVES US: Ben Macintyre has written an excellent piece in The Times on the role of the oft-criticised sub-editor. The headline, of course, has been written by a sub. We think it needs a larger audience outside the paywall. Lord Drone is paying.

SEND FOR SUPERSUB

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DEATH NOTICE OF THE WEEK

DYING FOR A LAUGH

SEDUCTION, SPIES  AND THE BEAVER 
Expressman Frame’s book lifts lid on newspaper peer’s  intriguing wartime affair

FORMER Expressman and Drone blogger ALAN FRAME has a cracking new book out which should be high on the reading lists of all old Fleet Street hands.

Toto & Coco: Spies, Seduction and the Fight for Survival tells the remarkable true story of one of the greatest, unknown (until now) heroines of World War 2, the Vogue model Toto Koopman and her one-time friend Coco Chanel. 

Frame told the Drone: "Toto, lover of Lord Beaverbrook AND his son Max Aitken (whoops!), became a British spy, fighting with the Italian Resistance, until she was sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp. 

"Chanel on the other hand became Nazi Agent Westminster. It was no camp for her, she stayed in the luxury of the Paris Ritz throughout the war, living with her Gestapo lover."

The book is available from Amazon or in the usual bookshops as a paperback, Kindle or Audio (Audio will be online from mid November.)

Frame added: "If you buy it through Amazon and like it, maybe you would be kind enough to write a review on Amazon (the usual fiver in the post!)

"I’ve been lucky enough to have had the help of the Aitken (Beaverbrook) family for this labour of love."

Toto & Coco: Spies, Seduction and the Fight for Survival is published on Saturday, October 24 by Kelvin House. 

BUY IT HERE

NEW YORK POST REVIEW

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The Daily Mail’s review of the book covered three pages __________

A BOLLOCKING ON SUNDAY
Mail reporters ordered to stop knocking off early and to get some actual news in the paper

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Enjoy this proper old fashioned bollocking memo emailed to the hacks on the news team at the Mail on Sunday by James Mellor, the news editor.

He laments; the lack of actual news in the paper, hacks knocking off early, hacks spending time filing their expenses rather than producing news, lack of genuine scoops… well, read it for yourself:

From: James Mellor

Date: Monday, 19 October, 2020  

The quality and quantity of stories provided by the News department this week was unacceptable and frankly embarrassing. By my count, there were just five self-generated exclusives from News in the entire paper. With a couple of exceptions, we let ourselves down. I have apologised to the Editor for our lack of contribution.

To fill the paper, we were reduced to effectively cutting and pasting stories from Mail Online. Despite the desperate need for new material, one of you found time yesterday to file an expenses claim. Others decided to head home before the gaps were filled. 

They might consider apologising to their colleagues who at least had the decency to stay and help fill the paper. The News department has been crucial in making The Mail on Sunday the biggest selling Sunday newspaper — but we failed this week and have not been firing on all cylinders for some time. This needs to change.

With immediate effect, everyone — without exception — is required to send an email detailing their stories and ideas for the week ahead to me, Ronan and Jane by 10am each Tuesday at the latest. If you have no ideas or stories to offer, you should send an email stating that — and be seriously asking yourself why. 

Expect to be chased by the desk if you haven’t sent a note or at least called and spoken to one of us. I also want at least one properly fleshed out idea for an investigation from each of you by Tuesday, October 20. I don’t want a nebulous concept, but a thoughtful, researched proposal. Again, send that to me, Ronan and Jane.

As well as genuine scoops, we need more light and shade on the News List -glamourous, quirky and consumer stories featuring famous people as well as gritty stories. Copy needs to be well-written, accurate and filed earlier to prevent a logjam on Saturday. 

If your stories aren’t making, it’s because the Editor doesn’t rate them, so you need to find ones that he does. We failed badly to meet our usual high standards this week. Let’s ensure that it does not happen again.

James

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How to be sensible

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You know how it is, you are having a drink with friends in  a pub garden after a round of golf and it starts raining. Silly people head indoors to the pub but former Expressman Roger Watkins just grabbed the nearest cushion and popped it on his head. 

That, chums, is how to be sensible — it is a proud Daily Express tradition.

Mr Richard Dismore, of this parish, said: 'This pic invokes the spirit of Bingo and Bertie c.1985. It recalls the Press Club jape of wearing the club’s lampshades as hats, to the displeasure of the hapless Yorkshireman who ran it. Good drill, Rog!’

A READER WRITES

Sir — What on earth’s going on at the Drone?

I refer to your incessant pandering to the narcissism of former Fleet Street executives definitely in the ‘has been’ or ‘never was’ category. 

I’ve no problem with that bearded bloke from features peddling his latest book. The story of Tonto and Coypu looks a good read. 

No, it’s the photograph of that prat with the white hair (ash blond, surely — Ed), obviously in drink, posing in a pub car park with a cushion on his head. I ask you!

Why not use this wasted space for interesting snippets from supermarkets or, better still, a nostalgic, evocative series called, say, Last Train to Adlestrop?

It’s game raising time, Mac!

ELVIRA MULDOON (Mrs)
Holloway 

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ONLY IN THE DRONE 
Great pictures of Daily and Sunday Express in the 80s

The Daily Drone is now in proud possession of 148 pictures of the Daily Express taken by photographer PATRICK ROWLEY in the 1980s.

This picture shows the Daily Express Backbench, from left, Norman Cox, Hickey sub; Dougie Mann, news sub (obscured); Pat Pilton; Craig Orr; John Jinks, news desk; Ray Cave, art desk; and Terry Manners

BACKBENCH PICTURES

EDITORIAL PICTURES

FEATURES PICTURES

MORE EDITORIAL PICTURES

SUNDAY EXPRESS MAGAZINE PICTURES

PRODUCTION PICTURES

Steve Bott’s World

Former Daily Star football reporter and sub STEVE BOTT has written his memoir — and you can read it only in the Daily Drone.
Start reading From Wigan to the West Indies and Beyond HERE

Part 2

Part 3

ON THE RUN
Two pics from the 80s
to jog a few memories

PUFFY BUFFY: Roger Watkins

Rare pictures of Express athletes in action have been unearthed by the Daily Drone.

They show future editor Chris Williams and backbencher Roger Watkins taking part in a race around Battersea Park in the 80s.

The pair were members of the Daily Express Athletics Club (motto: You can run but you cannot hide) competing in a charity race involving City of London companies.

Watkins recalls: ‘People shouldn’t really be surprised: you don’t get bodies like ours without honing them. Our team was captained by Bill Wheeler who, between puffs on his pipe, was a decent athlete back then.

‘I knew things wouldn’t go well when I couldn’t keep up with him in the warm-up. During the race I still had a lap to go when I heard the winner cheered across the finishing line.

ALAN HILL writes: I turned up for the great Battersea race with Roger Watkins. Suitably attired, superbly honed and physically tuned, we approached the starting line. With confidence.

Then we saw the overhead banners, which read: Five minute milers, six minute milers. They went on and on and on, in decreasing times.

Roger and I decided that we would replicate our roles as  backbencher and Chief City Sub and adopt the roles of “sweepers”. We would run at the back to mentor and encourage any stragglers.

We finished the race, still breathing...by which time Chris Williams was probably back in Fleet Street!

Happy times!

HAIR RAISING: Our man Williams, left, forges ahead

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Deux amis sur Le Continong

(Gay Paree actuellement)

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ENGLISHMEN ABROAD: Well, one is a Kiwi, but you get the idea. On the left, clutching his copy of The Sunday Times, is a youthful Daily Express backbencher Dick Dismore.  

His compagnon in the crumpled sports jacket is the late, lamented New Zealander Les Diver, copy taster par excellence and an expert on painful rabbit punches to the upper arm.

The picture was taken on the banks of the River Seine in Paris some time in the 1980s. Sleeping arrangements have not been recorded. Not publicly anyway.

Also on the jolly was M Roger de Watkins who, rummaging in his drawers, selected the photograph from his private collection exclusively for the Drone.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Sir — How odd to see one’s other self on the pages of the Daily Drone, the one from a different century, who didn’t creak or drink too much — no, strike that last part, Janet.

On the other hand, how nice to see my dear old friend Les Diver, an invaluable companion on the Backbench and a great bloke on a rugby jolly.

Les and I, along with M. de Watkins, somehow (don’t ask) got hold of tickets for an England match in Paris at the old Parc des Princes stadium. A lovely place to watch rugby — if you can find your seat.

Ours were at the top of a steeply-raked stand. But which one of the sheer staircases should we take? The tickets held few clues.

We puffed our way to the top of the first one where a steward examined our tickets and said: “Non!” And waved airily towards another staircase.

We raced back down and climbed that one too, got to the top again and found our path blocked by another jobsworth who insisted we were still in the wrong place.

I won’t lie, the third staircase was testing for three blokes who’d lunched well. We got to the summit and when the steward there started his teeth-sucking routine as a prelude to the bums’ rush, we formed a ruck and cleared him out as the jargon of the game goes these days.

Not having seats, or at least any we could find, we plonked ourselves down on the concrete steps and watched from there.

Can’t remember who won but it didn’t matter. Springtime in Paris, food, wine, rugby and great company — who could ask for more?

A word to the wise, Sir. If M. de Watkins has any more grainy snaps from that trip, I should show them to that chap Cocklecarrot before putting them in your organ.

As ever,

DICK DISMORE

Funny you should say that Dick ...

Former Mirror and Expressman John Clarke writes:

Without having to burden your immense readership with yet another picture of Dick Dismore I feel obliged to append the following from the February 1971 edition of Splash, the East Midland Allied Press staff newspaper. It shows Mr Dismore during his Peter Wyngarde-lookalike phase when he was working on the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph at Kettering.

Modesty almost forbids me to say that immediately above it is a portrait of myself leaving the Bury Free Press en route to the Spalding Guardian with a young Peter Caney in the background.

Peter and I eventually ended up working alongside Dick at the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph. I later worked with Peter at the Mirror and Dick at the Express.

More grainy pix have fallen into my hands and will be published in due course. Bribes to prevent publication will be gratefully received — Ed

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Your sparkling Daily Drone, the No1 choice for grainy old pictures

NOSES TO THE PINT POT: Terry Manners enjoys yet another lager in the Press Club during a well-earned break from the chief sub’s seat … and then goes back to the office, below, to join Brian ‘Clint’ Izzard

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NOSES TO THE GRINDSTONE: This pic of the Daily Express London newsroom is so blurry that it’s a job to identify anyone. But the man holding up his hands is Jon Zackon who is probably trying to tell the Backbench that the short he is subbing should be the splash.

The chap on the Newsdesk on the left is Jim Watson. At the back of the pic are Wonky Wheeler, Terry Manners and Bob Haylett. 

The photo, from the 1980s, was taken from the Picture Desk which, a reader suggests, explains why it is fuzzy. The editor couldn’t possibly comment!

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DRONE PHOTONEWS
Fleet St mourns another great talent as Paul Callan dies at 81

The world of journalism was in mourning last night for Paul Callan, who died on Saturday morning after a fall at his Wimbledon home aged 81.

Callan, a larger than life character in his bow tie and pinstripes, was a hugely gifted Fleet Street writer who made his name on the Daily Mirror and later on the Daily Express and LBC radio.

His wife Steffi wrote on Facebook: So sad to say my husband of over 40 years, Paul Callan passed away suddenly yesterday after a fall. 

"He had an incredible life and career and loved being the father of Jessica Callan Olsen and James Callan and the doting grandfather of Scarlett and Gabriel. You always knew when he was around — follow the laughter.’

His daughter Jessica wrote on Facebook: “I’m heartbroken to have to say that my father Paul Callan died today.

“He had been unwell for some time and was recently diagnosed with cancer which he wanted to keep quiet.

"So unlike him to want to keep anything quiet!

“But he had a fall in the early hours of today and passed away very quickly.

“He wanted a huge, great send-off at St Bride’s so we will arrange a memorial next year when we can all see each other.

“Raise a toast to him in the meantime, if you can.

"He would have loved that.”

Farewell to a Fleet Street great, by ALAN FRAME

Daily Telegraph obituary

HERR RAISING!

From the Daily Express, most of which has been lifted from the Daily Drone, which we take as a compliment

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DRONE PHOTONEWS
TIN HATS ON CHAPS, DON’T YOU KNOW THERE’S A WAR ON?

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Life has never been easy producing the Daily Express at night so just imagine what it was like during the Second World War when the Germans were busy bombing London just outside the doors to the Fleet Street offices. 

The backbench was prepared for the onslaught as this picture, taken from editor Arthur Christiansen’s autobiography Headlines All My Life, shows.

The tin hats were not worn for long as Chris, seen here on the left, explained: “We were issued with steel helmets at the outbreak of war. Managing editor Herbert Gunn, Brian Chapman and myself posed for this picture — but feeling foolish, had them stored away.”

Forty years later, far sillier hats were worn at times in the Express newsroom as the editor of this publication can confirm.

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My fabulous night with the Fab Four

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Mention of The Beatles on the Daily Drone website inspired CLIVE GOOZEE to remember interviewing the group in 1963 and getting them to sign an album for his brother Steve.

A pleasing night with The Beatles

A GREAT DAILY EXPRESS ROYAL SCOOP RETOLD

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

WHERE’S WALLY?

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.

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GOOZE A LUCKY BOY!

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.

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STAR PHOTOGRAPHER REG LANCASTER DIES

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.

REMEMBERING REG

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Legends in their lunchtime

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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.

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YOUR DAILY DRONE, No1 CHOICE FOR GRAINY PIX

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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. 

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ODIOUS TABLOID KING MAX CLIFFORD ORDERED
THE EDITOR TO FIRE ME

By ASHLEY WALTON

"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.

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

By I.R O’GREENSLADE 

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

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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?”

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HISTORY IN MOMENTS
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
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EXPRESS PICTURE QUIZ

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.

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You couldn’t make it up! Woke fools want to ditch the Crusader
NEW BOSSES AIM SPEAR AT HEART OF DAILY EXPRESS

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.

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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.

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Some stories don’t always fit the bill

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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.

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History in Moments
with ARTHUR CAKES

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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.

FINN THE ACE REPORTER

FINN’S FINAL DISPATCH

I’M A TRANSVESTITE, JOKES PHIL

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REACH FOR THE SICK BAG, ALICE!
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.

Yours, 
ALFRED KINSEY- SHANKS (Dr)
Little Todger,
Herts

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Our exasperating newspapers: Prince Philip’s view in 1967

VICTOR WATERS has unearthed a fascinating piece written by the Duke of Edinburgh in a foreword to a book published by the Press Club in London in 1967.

Prince Philip always had a strained relationship with the Press during his long life — he famously called the Express ‘a bloody awful newspaper’ — but he takes a reasonably conciliatory view in this piece.

READ IT HERE

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The Times Diary
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An illustration of how newspaper graphics are much better now

I permit myself a wry smile when I see the intricate, sophisticated graphics that grace newspapers these days, writes Daily Drone Chief Sub LP BREVMIN

The Mail’s Prince Philip double page funeral illustration is a brilliant example. 

Imagine getting something like that produced on the old Daily Express, even if you could persuade Moreno to break off from churning out yet another Millionaires Club blurb.

You just know that, as deadline approached, two things would happen: you’d spot that the Duke’s coffin had been placed on the ‘cafatalque' and that Advertising had just ‘sold’ a 25x4 on the right hand page.

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Crazy night Fleet Street's great rivals gatecrashed Prince Philip’s stag party

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MADELINE CLARKE, the daughter of former Daily Mail journalist Harry Procter, has recounted the night her father and a group of other Fleet Street journalists managed to gatecrash Prince Philip’s stag night.

The cutting pictured above is from World’s Press News and  dated 27 November 1947.

FULL STORY

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195 YEARS ON ...
The first picture

WE have seen a few grainy pictures in our time but this one must surely take first prize.

In fact you might not think that this blurry image is a photo at all, but it is considered to be the oldest surviving photograph in existence. 

It was made by French photography pioneer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. It’s what you get when you remove the areas of a non-hardened asphalt from a pewter plate exposed to sunlight for eight hours. No wonder he didn't take selfies.

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ROUGH JUSTICE
Outrage over decision to demolish EIGHT Fleet Street buildings AND the old Coach and Horses pub

In a letter to The Times, the historian Marcus Binney, executive president of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said the loss of the “handsome” frontages would “desecrate” a view to St Paul’s Cathedral that the corporation was recently proposing to protect.

Fleet Street is on an ancient processional route from the Palace of Westminster to St Paul’s, to which Mr Binney said the 1920s buildings added “gravitas and quiet splendour”.

A report by the corporation’s planners said the proposal would result in “less than substantial” harm to the area.

Henrietta Billings, director of SAVE Britain’s Heritage, said: “Conservation areas like this one are designed to recognise and protect the special character, flair and heritage of our important streets and places.

"Fleet Street is famous for its rich newspaper history, as well as its largely well-preserved streets and alleyways and medieval street pattern. Large scale demolition-creep of this kind is crass and short-sighted in any location — let alone in a so-called conservation area. The whole approach needs a re-think." 

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PLANS to build a “justice quarter” in Fleet Street which will involve the demolition of eight buildings and a pub have been approved by City planners.

Heritage campaigners claim the move will ruin views of St Paul’s Cathedral.

The plan, passed by the City of London Corporation, involves the demolition of eight buildings in a conservation area on the opposite side of the road to the old Daily Express building.

The multi-million pound scheme for a new base for the City of London Police and an eight-storey magistrates, crown and county court, was hailed as a major step which "will enhance city’s reputation" and support 2,500 jobs — 400 new ones. 

The Corporation, which is both the applicant and decision-maker, is opposed by Historic England, the Government’s heritage advisers, plus SAVE Britain’s Heritage, the Twentieth Century Society and the Victorian Society.

The buildings facing demolition include Chronicle House, at Nos 72-78 Fleet Street, built in 1924 in a stripped-back classical style with art deco influences. It is one of the buildings that recall the street’s heyday as the centre of the British newspaper trade and once housed the now defunct News Chronicle. 

At Nos 80-81, the neo-baroque Barclays bank building, which dates from the same period, would also come down.

The Victorian Hack and Hop pub (formerly the Coach and Horses) in Whitefriars Street will also be demolished but will be replaced by a larger hostelry.

A Georgian house, now offices, at 1 Salisbury Square will also be knocked down.

STOP THE DEMOLITION! SIGN THE PETITION

YOUR DRONE, TOP FOR CURRENT AFFAIRS Who’s the phantom Shagger of the Arch?

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By ROGER SMUTT, Our Man in the Tea-Coloured Mac

THERE'S already a pretty hefty amount of sleaze and suspicion sloshing around Westminster at the minute, and it seems as though Fleet Street may have a new story to toss into the trough too. 

Lobby hacks were asking some rather pointed questions about rumoured ministerial use of a grace-and-favour flat in Admiralty Arch at a briefing last week.

Although details were sparse, it's unlikely to relate to the Johnson/Arcuri affair, which is back in the news, because the shagging in that took place at their own homes. It's unlikely to be connected to any of David Cameron's recent lobbying efforts either as he's no longer a minister.

So who could it be? And could this have anything to do with the persistent Westminster rumour that there's been a rift in the once unshakeable Gove-Vine union?

Hope you can stand this up, Smutty — Ed

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HISTORY IN MOMENTS
Daredevil snapper takes a crate pic of Fleet Street

1929: Another in the Drone’s intermittent series of pictures of Ye Olde Fleet Streete, especially pertinent now that the Editor has launched a global campaign to save certain iconic buildings threatened by planning madness (see petition above right and story lower down this page). 

This pic of the bustling Street with the threatened Chronicle House on the right and St Paul’s in the background was taken from the old Daily Telegraph building. It shows the intrepid Fox snapper R.J. Salmon dangling precariously from a crane in what looks like an old beer crate. 

Imagine the elf and safety kerfuffle today: high viz vest; crash helmet etc. For cool old  R.J. a trench coat and battered trilby sufficed. 

AN R.R (t)

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A great writer’s anguish over a missed deadline

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ALL journalists have experienced the pain of looking at a blank piece of paper or an empty screen and wondering what the hell to write.

The great Dorothy Parker had a similar experience in 1945 when she missed a deadline and sent this anguished telegram to her editor.

Her apology was an art form in itself, using such phrases as ‘I can’t look you in the voice’ and ‘all I have is a pile of paper covered with wrong words’.

Parker was famous for her witty verses, such as 
I like to have a Martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
After four I'm under my host.

Two other great quotes which have gone into the language are: 'I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy’ and ‘Don’t look at me in that tone of voice’.

Mere words cannot do  justice to Parker’s monumental talent. So we will leave it at that.

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‘Sarcastic' note from Reach chief enrages hard-pressed staff 

STAFF at the Express and Mirror titles have voiced their anger at a 'sarcastic' email from Reach joint managing editor Andy Taylor.

Taylor, latterly of the Express, wrote: 

Dear All, there seems to be some confusion around the Cyber Security Training.  1262 of you seem to think you don't have to do it. This email is an incredibly polite nudge dispelling this confusion. PLEASE DO THIS TRAINING ASAP. It is mandatory not optional. 

Thanks ever so. Andy

Employees are upset at the 'dripping sarcasm' and the stretching of the definition of 'incredibly polite’. They noted that the preceding emails from management were alerts about Mental Health Week urging them to find a way of staying sane.

Some hope.

To the casual observer the email may not seem that offensive but it is indicative of the low morale at Reach that staff have taken the message so badly.

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Miss Rook regrets ...

Family came first for Daily Express star columnist Jean Rook in 1982 when she refused this invitation from a reader. The letter is listed on eBay for £15.

 … And so does Giles

The great Express cartoonist Carl Giles also had to turn down an offer. This letter from 1975 is also listed on eBay but it will set you back £75

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No matter how you dress it up, free insurance has to be biggest bargain ever

Daily Express promotion from the 1930s — it’s a pity they forgot to tell the girl to pull her socks up

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What happens when the bastards refuse to listen

… Says RICK McNEILL who sent us this cutting from the Johannesburg Star, 15 May

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In 1902 a French artist imagined what a reporter of the future would look like — this is the result 

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WHAT-HO CHAPS: Maybe the artist didn't look far enough into the future
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OUR NEWSPAPERS HAVE A FINE AND GLORIOUS FUTURE
That’s not a headline you see very often these days but it was the view of Express boss Max Aitken in 1967

EXPRESS chairman Sir Max Aitken was full of optimism when he wrote about the future of the newspaper industry in 1967.

He was right about many things but wrong on the use of colour.

The following article was discovered by Victor Waters in a book published by the Press Club.

Today and Tomorrow: Newsboys all of us!

Can newspapers expand while faced with the competition of radio and television? Of course they can! This is the message of Lord Beaverbrook’s son, Sir Max Aitken, pictured, who was a pilot in the Battle of Britain and is now Chairman of the Board of Beaverbrook Newspapers, publishers of the Daily Express, Sunday Express and Evening Standard.


FLEET STREET Today and Tomorrow! You ask my views on that question. Why I think the present is fine and the future is glorious. Newspapers have their detractors. We must be aware of them and beware them. How to treat ‘em? Shoot ‘em down! They generally have no idea of our problems and the exertions we make to overcome them. 

A lofty Commission, reporting on questions of finance and manpower, has spread the impression that the newspaper industry is inefficient. Nonsense. The British newspapers are unparalleled in their speed of reaction to news and their flexibility in switching from point to point under the pressure of hourly events.

If the whole of British industry moved as fast off the mark under pressure in production as Fleet Street does we would be in a position, in the wartime phrase, to send bundles to America! 

In an era of inventiveness, in a period of bewildering variety of new means and of new methods of communication, the plain fact is that the newspapers hold and increase their hoId on the people’s heart. There is nothing like the British newspaper. No institution elsewhere in the world compares with it.

Reduced a little bit in numbers the Fleet Street newspapers today offer the public a complete range of opinion and expression totally free from outside direction in an age of growth of bureaucracy and central domination.

This is a wonderful achievement, and it is more expressive at times of the free institutions which have been the splendour of the country than even the House of Commons itself.

Our most subtle detractors are those who think we are overwhelmed by new media. The truth is the opposite. Radio, television and all the new networks have been proved not to menace us. They enhance us. This is because of human nature and of that very distinct form of it — British human nature — which Fleet Street understands so well. 

There is a superficial and flighty element in the new modes which compete with the newspapers. These weaknesses are exposed when the newspapers stick to their real functions of reporting, explaining and commenting in permanent form on the news of the day. 

When an individual sees an event himself or sees a picture version of it he is not content. He wants to read about it.  He is never satisfied with his own eyes: he wants to see with other people’s eyes as well and at greater leisure than the flashing screen permits. Nothing lasts with him like the printed word.

Most people have poor visual or eye memories. They have much stronger ear memories. Of course you use your eyes to read print. But good writing has the same quality as good speech. It is a voice not just a picture. The printed word sticks where the picture flickers. You see this in advertising where the television advertiser has no recourse except to repeat things until they nauseate but the printed advertisement respects the reader. It is there only when he wants it.

If he doesn’t take it in the first time he can look back over it as often as he is interested. It enters his personal computer. So I would say of all these new competitors: Be stimulated by them but never fear them. The future is with us.

Some people foretell the decline of newspapers on the ground that the future will see great national newspapers broken up into a thousand local editions produced by new processes or delivered through a screen or run off in pictures on your bedroom ceilings through a projector. Nonsense.

The great presses will continue to run.

“The future of colour? Not nearly as important as is predicted for it. Colour has its place in advertisements. But it would be wrong to bring it generally into news pictures and editorial content. There is nothing like black and white for clarity, for swift impression and dramatic effect. We have an old saying: When in doubt — put it in black and white.

I do not foresee any sudden changes in the general production of newspapers. My father often said to me: “Change yes, but change slowly.”

It is only when you look back at fifty-year-old cuttings that you see with shock great masses of type which need a magnifying glass to read or tiny news pictures which today would be blown-up to half a page. Not so many years ago a two-column headline was a sensation in one of the heavies, or we might call them the less popular newspapers. We have advanced greatly in vigour and clarity and that will continue.

I am sure that the future of our industry will be happy and secure. We must always fight off the encroachments on our free judgment by governments and bureaucrats. We must fight the continued growth of privilege and secrecy which often exists not for the security of the State but of the party or of the official.

There is another sanction we must never forget. Many of the great figures of Fleet Street began life as newsboys with packs on their backs, selling newspapers. From the humblest to the topmost in Fleet Street we are all newsboys. 

We have something to sell. Nobody is compelled to buy it. The public is the judge of value for its money. It is a high-spirited world in which the best wins the most.

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What a lotta stories from the Street’s Chief Rotter

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ANOTHER day, another book, this time by former Mirror reporter John Jackson, who calls himself Fleet Street’s Chief Rotter.

Reflections of a Mirror Man tells how Jackson realised that sports news stories from Olympic Games, World Cups, Wimbledon tennis and cricket tests aroused as much – if not more – interest as the competitions themselves.

The reporters who asked the questions the sportswriters dared not, in case they lost a contact, were named the Rotters. And John Jackson was known as the Chief Rotter. 

John said the book ranges “from getting Mandela out of prison to burying Maxwell in Jerusalem, news and sports stories from 22 Olympic Games, 10 World Cups, 35 Wimbledons, cricket tours and memories of The Stab and Vagabonds to Poppins, Ye Olde Bell and El Vino."

Available on Amazon, £9.99 paperback, £5.99 Kindle.

BUY THE BOOK HERE

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Bashir’s sob story in Whacko Jacko stunt

By BILLY GENE, Our Man in the Mirror

The Dyson Report gives both barrels to Martin Bashir over his duplicity and deceit in trying to secure an interview with Princess Diana, and if anyone cares to go digging as to how he came to secure his equally infamous Michael Jackson interview they'll probably find more of the same there too.

Bashir spent weeks badgering Uri Geller to try to help swing the Jacko interview for him, pleading with Uri, almost to the point of tears, and offering to let him see a previously unseen, allegedly very revealing, letter from Princess Diana.

When Uri got in touch with someone at the BBC to complain about the endless harassment, one of the questions they asked was "Has he burst into tears and offered you the Di letter yet?”

Source: Popbitch

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SCROOGE BOSSES TO RETURN CASH THEY TROUSERED
(But there’s a catch, obviously)

ALL is not well in the People’s Republic of Reach, in case you haven’t guessed.

Staff on the Express and Mirror titles have received a ‘Hi Folks’ letter from management regarding their class action for the return of the 10 per cent pay cut imposed on them last year.

An insider said the money was 'stolen during the three of the most stressful months of our careers’. 

But there is a sting in the tail of the letter, which reads:

For those of you who were with the business this time last year you’ll remember that we were going through some very challenging times, and like a number of businesses, in April 2020 we took the tough decision to reduce salaries for a period.

We know and appreciate that many of you understood the position the business was in at that time. And, while we have now weathered the worst of the storm, we need to continue to invest in the business so we build for the future, honour our ongoing commitments and remain vigilant with regard to any further impacts from the pandemic.

That said, we know that the pay cut continues to be an issue for some colleagues and it is one we want to resolve — so we have taken the decision to reimburse all impacted colleagues for the April to June 2020 pay reduction. This one-off payment will be made in September, and we’ll share more details about how it will work with you over the next week or so. The Board and Executive Committee will not be taking any reimbursement for their pay deductions.

Understandably, this decision will require us to review and manage our other operating costs carefully in the future. As a result, the business will regrettably not be in a position to make an all colleague share award this year, and at the same time we will look at other opportunities to recoup costs through reduced discretionary spend in the remainder of the year.

The Drone’s mole said: "Roughly translated: we will make you suffer for this."

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How Diana was left to mercies of Mohamed al Fayed’s mad circus

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By ALAN FRAME

Much has been made in the fallout of the BBC/Bashir scandal that there is a direct link between the consequences of that interview and Diana’s death in Paris two years later. 

Both Earl Spencer and Andrew Neil argue that if the princess had resisted Martin Bashir’s crooked blandishments and not appeared in front of 23 million of us riveted to that Panorama programme, she would have kept her royal protection which had been withdrawn, leaving her to the tender mercies of Mohamed al Fayed’s security.

They may be right but it is without doubt that Diana was in such a fragile state by 1995 (and bearing in mind that Prince Charles had already admitted adultery in the TV interview with Jonathan Dimbleby) that she might well have readily agreed to Bashir even without his lies and forgeries.

The fact is her royal protection was withdrawn, just like her HRH title earlier. And the moment she became involved with Dodi Fayed, she became the star attraction of the mad circus run by his father. 

I know a bit about that particular show having worked for Mohamed for 18 months after leaving the Express in 1995. I should have known better because I had known him for 10 years before that and it was clear to me by then that billionaires do not play by the rules, at least not rules recognised by a civilised society.

Those oligarchs do not know that airport check-ins exist because they are taken by armoured Mercedes straight from their helicopter to the tarmac where their Gulf Stream jet awaits. When they arrive at their destination a fleet of black limos whoosh them away at high speed. I know all this because I have experienced it in all its scary detail.

Twice on arrival at Orly airport we were in the third Mercedes of a four-car convoy aiming for the Paris Ritz, 10 miles away through the usual crazy mix of Renault and Citroen. If we had gone by cab it would have been a 40 minute trip. But by Fayed Autos, with the boss in car number two, it took half that time. All four of the Mercs in our convoy were seemingly joined bumper to bumper and no other vehicles, no matter their size, would get in the way. It was terrifying and completely unnecessary (and I speak as one who enjoys speed and has owned the fastest of cars.) But at least our driver, at least to my knowledge, was sober. 

One August night in 1997 Diana was at the mercy of a driver who had been drinking most of the evening at the Ritz and the inevitable followed. She had been Mohamed’s greatest prize in his determination to avenge slights, real and perceived, heaped on him by the Establishment in general and the Royal Family. And now she was dead in the Alma tunnel.

Postscript: Two years ago I was at the opening of a friend’s art exhibition when I was introduced to Martin Bashir. His charm, which has much been reported in the past few days, was working overtime that night. So much so that he failed to correct me when I referred to him throughout as Mihir. I was confusing him with that splendid cricket writer Mihir Bose whom I have met. Top marks to Bashir for not saying: ‘Don’t you know who I am?’

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And now ... apropos of nothing, here's a picture 
of cartoonist Giles’ grave

Resting in rural peace: Giles is buried with his wife Joan in St Martin Churchyard, Tuddenham, Suffolk

MORE OLD FRONT PAGE STUFF 

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© 2005-2021 Alastair McIntyre