SUNDAY 21 JULY  2024



‘There are two kinds of actors: actors that want to be famous, and liars’ — Famous actor Kevin Bacon


Andy Davey, Torygraph

Lucky old June

Williamsport Sun-Gazette, spotted by Bob Watson

The artist formerly known as Prince


How others see us

IF the Tories are still wondering why they lost the General Election, here’s a clue from Korea’s New Philosopher magazine. 

The i eclipses Star

The average daily print circulation of the i is now higher than the Daily Star’s for the first time in its history.

The change comes two months after the i’s circulation was also higher than the Sunday Express as the DMGT-owned title’s print readership has stayed relatively steady for several months.

The paper reported an ABC print circulation of 125,545 – narrowly edging above the Daily Star on 125,525, according to ABC figures for June.

The i, which launched in October 2010, saw growth compared to May of 1% and and annual decline of 14%.

The Daily Star reported a month-on-month drop of 1% and year-on-year fall of 15%. (Source: Press Gazette)

You couldn’t make it up!

(Although knowing Parry he probably will)

Mike Parry, of this parish, announces his new podcast saying ‘It will blow your socks off.’ By the look of the subject it will blow your trousers off too.

David ‘Golly’ Hardy

Former Express, Mirror, Sun and Telegraph sub-editor David Hardy has died after a long illness. He was 83.

He leaves a wife, Sue Hillwood-Harris and a son.

David was known as Golly in less politically correct times, because of his shock of dark, curly hair.

Drone editor Alastair McIntyre said: ‘Golly was a good friend of mine and I served as his best man when he married Sue in the 1980s. He was a kind, companionable man with a great sense of humour, one of the characters of the golden age of national newspapers. I shall miss him and mourn his passing.’

🔴 The funeral will be held at Honor Oak Cemetery, Brockley Way, London SE4 2LJ at 4pm on 24th July. David said he wanted ‘as many old hacks as possible’ to attend.

Observer editor 

Webster retires

Paul Webster, the editor of The Observer, will retire from the Sunday newspaper this autumn.

Webster has been the editor of the paper since January 2018, having previously been its deputy editor for 22 years, Press Gazette reports.

Parent company Guardian News and Media said The Observer had made “powerful interventions over the course of his editorship”, for example campaigning for a second Brexit referendum, defending civil liberties and criticising the Conservative government’s Covid response.

The company said there will be an open recruitment process to appoint the next editor.

Mail abandons bid for the Telegraph

Daily Mail owner DMGT has pulled out of the race to buy The Telegraph as the auction process starts for a second time.

DMGT, which also owns the Metro and the i newspapers, feared a “protracted regulatory process” amid potential competition concerns if it won the auction and said this could affect its ability to grow its own existing business.

It also warned that a ban on foreign governments investing in UK newspaper titles passed by the last government had curbed its ability to raise capital.

The Road to Perdition

NEW By Helena Handcart  our girl (?) on the slippery slope (sic). Again

Not sure what to make of Veep designate Hillbilly Vance. Incredible backstory, though and he stands out because of his beard. Most vice presidents are clean shaven (no cheap shots about the present incumbent, please). Trump is supposed to hate beards but he says of his new buddy: ‘He looks like a young Abraham Lincoln.’

Notice how Trump’s become more humble and self effacing since the shooting? ‘I shouldn’t be here,’ he told Republicans as he accepted the presidential nomination. Mind you, after a 92-minute speech, the longest in modern convention history, many delegates must have wished he hadn’t been.

Holiday Complaints Dept (genuine): ‘No one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were scared.’

Country singer Ingrid Andress, accused of an historically awful rendition of the US national anthem at baseball’s Home Run Derby, confesses she was — how shall I say — over-rehearsed. Rehab beckons.

WordWatch: Momager - mother of famous person who’s also their manager.

More pesky live sub titles on telly: ‘We’re looking for potential guide forks lurking in the cellars’ — security alert at State Opening of Parliament.

Should we be worried that Costco appears to be preparing for doomsday? The third largest retailer in the world is now offering an ‘Emergency Food Bucket’ at $80 a pop. It contains 150 freeze-dried meals including rice, pasta, pudding and, for some reason, potato pot pie. Most chilling aspect: the Armageddon grub last for 25 years.

I started reading a piece by Kathleen Stock in UnHerd which said that hunky Sir K’s accession to the throne (No. 10, surely — Ed) had got lady journos in a sexual lather. But, do you know, I just couldn’t go on.

Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin pays $45 million for a 150 million-year-old skeleton of a stegosaurus at a Sotheby’s auction. New record for a fossil.

Are we trying to be more like our Gallic cousins? Of course, lockdown started it but in recent years Brits have spent significantly less on soap, toothpaste, shampoo and cosmetics. Sales of deodorants have risen. Well that’s all right, then.

Two dogs have been trained to sniff out post-traumatic stress disorder, says Good News Network. They learned to detect smells associated with trauma on human breath in a university study in Canada.

OlympicsPicks: A total of 200,000 male condoms, 20,000 female condoms and 10,000 dental dams (Come on, get with the programme!) will be available for the 14,500 competitors and staff heading for Paris. 

School Report: We all enjoyed creating music with our mixed orchestra this year and Maisie really got into it! Translation: I gave Maisie a poxy triangle and stood her at the back so she couldn’t do too much damage but she still managed to ruin it.

Headline of the Week: Michael Douglas, 80, ‘whips it out’ for Catherine Zeta-Jones in saucy admission - Mirror.

NEW By Hermione Orliff the Comeback Kid. OK, she’s no kid but she’s certainly back

Still doubt that print is finished?  Listen to  Keith Rupert Murdoch: ‘You get on a train, public transport. You see anyone with a paper? You see no one. Now they’re reading all the facts on their phones…’ 

Just one detail from the $600 million nuptials of Anant Ambani, son of India’s richest person with a $124 billion fortune, and heiress Radhika Merchant.  Forget the actual ceremony: pre-wedding festivities included a Med cruise for 800 guests and a Rihanna concert for which the singer was paid $6million. 

News that popette Lily Allen is posting, on OnlyFans, pix of her feet for fetishists prompts the Marvellous Ms Midgley in The Times to lament that her version, OnlyNans, depicting ‘a more mature woman checking for moustache hairs and cleaning the cat litter tray in a Debenhams dressing gown’, has failed to attract one subscriber.

School Report: Maisie has created some innovative artwork. Translation: Your progeny is able to stick pasta shapes onto paper and then apply glitter to all available surfaces, including my new handbag.

French cyclist is fined just over €200 for kissing his wife during a stage of the Tour de France. Quoi?

The Rubik’s Cube, which is celebrating its 50th birthday,  can be scrambled into more than 43 quintillion possible positions — 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 to be exact. But it can be solved from any of these in a minimum of 20 moves, says my intern with the calloused thumbs and the thousand mile stare.

AT&T reveal phone records of nearly all of its 110 million customers have been stolen in a massive data breach.

America’s Death Valley becomes a no-go zone for air ambulances because of the heat. Temps topping 49C (120.2 F) make the air too thin to give a chopper the lift it needs to get off the ground and stay there.

Forget HMRC, the tax gatherer to fear is IRS in the States. They’ve just collected $1 billion from wealthy taxpayers who were cheating the system.

Breaking news: Sun Online devotes 27 pars to the imminent closure of a Costa Coffee in Inverness. 

Estonian stuntman Jaan Rose first person to walk from Sicily to Italian mainland. He used a ‘slackline’ less than an inch wide to cover the 1.9 miles.

Former BBC director general and now CNN boss Mark Thompson warns staff 100 jobs will be cut, about 3% of workforce.

Outrage in China following reports that a state-owned food company uses the same tankers to transport both fuel and cooking oil (not at the same time, silly).

OlympicsPicks: Oldest skateboarder is Team GB’s Andy MacDonald, aged 51. Other team members are both 16. Youngest competitor is Chinese boy aged 11.

During the State Opening of Parliament one MP is traditionally ‘held hostage’ at the Palace against the possibility of an attack on the monarch. One, Labour‘s Jim Fitzpatrick, recalls revealing his anxiety to the head of the Armed Forces. The general said: ‘If anything happens to HM, Jim, we’ll make it quick … and shoot you.’

Those pesky live TV subtitles: ‘Sarah Smith, BBC News, Hill Walking, Wisconsin.’ Ahem. Do you mean Milwaukee?

More daft bylines (all genuine): Angelica Cheyenne. Bella Evennett-Watts, Elspeth Monro-Smith, Elle Brenton-Rounding, Natasha Banjo, Ellie Allen-Eslor, Danielle Kate Wroe, Sophie Zeldin-O’Neill, Zasha Whiteway-Wilkinson, Demetria Osei-Tutu, Mamie Serah Mboob.

Trump won’t be impressed but gun owners in Alabama, Oklahoma and Texas can now buy bullets from vending machines, warns the Telegraph. They are able to scan ID and select their preferred rounds on a touchscreen. The manufacturer says it’s ’as easy to use as an ATM’.

Headline of the Week: I Used Pasta To Curl My Hair And The Results Were Better Than A Curling Iron — Sun

Stand and Deliver

News in Brief

The chief executives of Reach, Tindle and Newsquest, which between them publish more than 30 titles in Wales, have called on the Welsh government to drop plans to remove council tax notices from local papers warning of a "democratic deficit" and potential significant hit to revenue. (News Media Association)

The Telegraph has raised its weekday cover price from £3 to £3.50 with the Saturday edition to rise from £4 to £4.50 and Sunday’s also from £3 to £3.50. But The Federation of Independent Retailers says shops will receive a cut to the % margin they receive. (The Fed)

Pursued by a Bear

Six-second Shakespeare (Beware spoilers)

12 Romeo and Juliet

They tried to disguise it by switching the location from New York to Verona and changing the names of the rival Jets and Sharks but this tale of star-crossed lovers is so obviously based on West Side Story that, frankly, they need not have bothered. Anyway, an age-old vendetta between two powerful families erupts into bloodshed. A group of masked Montagues risk further conflict by gatecrashing a Capulet party. A young lovesick Romeo Montague falls instantly in love with Juliet Capulet, who is due to marry her father’s choice, the Count Paris. With the help of Juliet’s nurse, the women arrange for the couple to wed next day, but Romeo’s attempt to halt a street fight leads to the death of Juliet’s own cousin, Tybalt, for which Romeo is banished. In a desperate attempt to be reunited with Romeo, Juliet follows the Friar’s plot and fakes her own death. The message fails to reach Romeo, and believing Juliet dead, he takes his life in her tomb. Juliet wakes to find Romeo’s corpse beside her and kills herself. The grieving family agree to end their feud. Should think so! — Solly Quilley

How Sefton Delmer of the Express fought Nazis with Black Propaganda

Expressman Sefton Delmer created Black Propaganda on behalf of the wartime British government and used fake news to fight the Nazi regime.

Through postcards, court documents, and pirate radio programs, Delmer and the rest of the secret service infiltrated the minds of the German people, using violence, sex, and death in their stories to subtly break down the morale of the Nazis. So, who was Sefton Delmer? And why was he the only man who could have become the true master of Black Propaganda? His story is told in a new book How to Win an Information War.


WHO FLUNG FLAN: Watch out Pottsy, he’s behind you! Picture editing courtesy of Drone Laboratories

Custard Pie Corner



IF there is a face most deserving of the full custard pie treatment it is that of Paul Potts.

He was parachuted into the Daily Express as political editor in the late 1980s and became deputy editor to Nick Lloyd. It was reported at the time that Potts was liked by Mrs Thatcher who recommended him to the chairman, Lord Stevens.

The trouble was he wasn’t up to the job and had poor interpersonal skills. He was shaky on news values and hadn’t a clue about newspapers. Potts was responsible for making the edition late more than anyone else at the time — and there were quite a few candidates.

Just when a page was ready to go, Potts would appear red-faced from the ‘executive suite’ and instruct the Night Editor to rip it up. This indecision happened night after night with scant regard for deadlines. 

Potts went on to head the Press Association and at least made some success at that, turning the agency’s fortunes around. This allowed him to jump on the executive bandwagon and he was made a director of Times Newspapers. He was later made a CBE and is now retired.


Drone howling: nul points

The smug pride on Alastair McIntyre’s face says it all, he has received high points from fellow news sub and good friend Bob Smith.

The trouble is we  can’t quite remember what the contest was. The pic was taken at night (the clock says 11.23pm) in the Daily Express London newsroom in the late 1970s. 

It could be the Jack Atkinson Howling Competition in which contestants yelp  some of the chief foreign sub’s sayings, such as ‘HERE DOWN PLEASE’ or ‘I THANK YOU MOST KINDLY’. (Atkinson, a collector of antique guns, once threatened to use one on McIntyre). Alternatively it could have been a vowel howl. 

In the background, the less important work of competing the third edition is proceeding.

How different it must be to newsrooms today where subs don’t wear ties, let alone a monocle. Mostly, they work from home in their pants. 

Journalists held in dawn raids, homes ransacked, how Starmer led a savage war on the Press

Our new Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has lost no opportunity to remind us that he is a former Director of Public Prosecutions. But when he held that office he launched a witch hunt which resulted in dawn raids on journalists, the harassment of their families, restrictive and drawn-out police bail lasting years and intimidating trials at crown court.

This was all carried out against the background of phone hacking (a separate and indefensible activity) and the Leveson inquiry. 

A colleague who was caught up in the horror has written an exclusive account of this distressing episode.



McGuinness, guns and IRA terror? We didn’t believe it

BARRY GARDNER was called to Reception at the Sunday Mirror back in the 1980s to meet a scarred man who claimed he had been interrogated by an IRA boss called McGuinness and then escaped with his life after being grazed on the face with a bullet. 

The man asked for £500 for his story but the Newsdesk had their doubts and refused to pay. Now it seems that they let a great story slip through their hands.


Robert Maxwell and the reporter who told a caller to f*ck off

Former Mirrorman TIM MINOGUE  relates a great tale which typifies the old wild days of Fleet Street.

He tells of a harassed People reporter who was told by reception that a man had called with a tip. 

The reporter told the receptionist: ‘Tell him to fuck off.’ She did just that.

The caller then phoned Robert Maxwell and complained about his treatment.

Guess what happened.



Mrs Yellow Peril

We asked you for your memories of being called down to reception to meet a caller offering a story.

Former Starman TOM ROCHE has done just that with a strange tale of a woman in yellow oilskins and sou’wester who breezed in claiming her husband had been assassinated by communists.



A funny thing happened on the way down to reception


Who can forget their first time as a journalist being sent to reception to talk to a man with three Lever Arch files, containing pages written in green ink, about air pollution, alien invasions or the price of cauliflower?

Now you can relive those joyous interviews in a book called There's Someone in Reception: Adventures in Local Journalism.

Alex Morrison spent a decade in journalism, as a reporter, then editor for several local newspapers, before covering national news for the BBC.

His book is based on his own experiences, plus interviews with scores of journos who responded to a come-on he placed on Twitter (now X).

The resulting memories – from the 1950s to the 2020s – cover the glory days, the disastrous decline of local papers and how local journalism is adapting to the internet age.

As well as walk-ins, Morrison covers street vox pops and the dreaded “death knock”, including the woman who told him: “Why would you want to write about my late husband. He was a cunt.”

Morrison tells of an Italian who emigrated to Crawley and came into the Crawley News to explain how he had learned how to grow giant aubergines. AUBERGENIUS….was the headline.

Polly Rippon recalled how a legless man came into the Sheffield Star to reveal he was a convicted murderer planning a sponsored swim. Her copy appeared under the headline LEGLESS MURDERER SWIMS FOR CHARITY.

The personal favourite from my own career was the man who came in to reception on The Sun in Manchester to declare he’d invented the spiral staircase and asked how he could claim royalties.

There's Someone in Reception: Adventures in Local Journalism is available on Amazon

Do you have memories of life as a local reporter? If so, Lord Drone would love to hear your stories. CONTACT HIS LORDSHIP HERE

Oafers of the Express,
a very naughty boy

Delving around in the dusty annals of the Drone, the Editor uncovered some anecdotes about Michael O’Flaherty, one of the greatest and loveable characters of Fleet Street who got himself into many drink-fuelled scrapes.

The Editor acknowledges that he is a fine one to talk about scrapes but at least he didn’t go so far as biting the Managing Editor’s ankles at The Savoy.






AFTER years of being the famed home of national journalism, Fleet Street is to become a major legal centre for the City of London.

The redevelopment of Salisbury Square, opposite the old Express and Telegraph buildings, will include 18 courtrooms and will combine all the Square Mile’s existing courts— except for the Old Bailey — into one building and become the new headquarters for the City of London Police.

A ceremony to mark the “bottoming out” of the basement has taken place, marking out the completion of the deepest excavation phase of the project, reaching 18 meters deep between Whitefriars Street and Salisbury Square. This milestone was achieved by excavating 62,270 cubic meters to form a three-storey basement.

No pubs were affected in this massive development, the Drone was assured last night.

Mad Marley, dipso
of the Recorder

Drunks were no strangers to the newsrooms of old — and there was no one drunker than the gay dipsomaniac John Marley, deputy editor of the Ilford Recorder.

ALLAN HALL was news editor of the paper at the time and tells the extraordinary story of this complex character.

PAT PRENTICE also has memories to share.



Scots editor apologises after front page ridiculing English football fans

Yesterday’s Drone

The editor of Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper has issued a grovelling apology for resorting to “lazy stereotypes” in a front page urging Spain to take “revenge” on England in the Euro 2024 final.

The about-face came after the Daily Drone labelled The National pathetic and asked: What is wrong with the Scots? Revenge? For what exactly? We get this every time England is in the final of a major sporting tournament — vitriol from the Scottish Press.

The National incurred our wrath over a battle cry caricaturing England supporters as bad tourists ahead of the following day’s match, something editor Laura Webster has now admitted “crossed a line”.

In a front page featuring a mocked up image of Spain star Rodri kicking an overweight, tattooed England fan shaped like a football on a beach, the paper had said: “Every summer, they fill up your beaches. They drink all your beer. They make a mess of your plazas. They eat fried breakfasts all day instead of your wonderful food. They retire in your towns, and sponge off your public services. Ni siquiera se molestan en aprender el idioma! [They don’t even bother to learn the language!] 

This, of course, ignored the fact that the Scots do exactly the same.

Yesterday Webster posted on X: “Readers of The National who have been with us for a long time will know that humour has always been a big part of what we do. For Saturday’s front page, we set out to make a light-hearted joke that wouldn’t be taken too seriously in the build-up to a football match. Our intention was to make it over-the-top and tongue-in-cheek.

“However, we admit that the front page didn’t deliver what we set out to do. We leaned into lazy stereotypes, and we shouldn’t have. We have listened to feedback, reflected on our decision-making and have reached the conclusion that we got this one wrong. The front page crossed a line. We apologise.

“It is a privilege to be Scotland’s only newspaper that supports independence. This also comes with a responsibility to reflect the best of our movement, and that is what we promise to do going forward.”

The Drone says: Peddling this hatred does nothing to further the cause of Scottish Nationalism. It is nothing short of racism.

Former Expressman Alan Hill has sent this letter to The National:

Your front page on the England v Spain cup final was a disgrace.

Those responsible should ask themselves why so many wonderful Scottish football players and managers, past and present, have blessed the English game.

On the pitch: Dalgleish, Mackay, Law, Souness and so many in the current game.

The managers: Sir Matt Busby, Bill Shankly, Sir Alex Ferguson, David Moyes.

I doubt you will publish this letter.

Alan Hill, a Scot, in Hertfordshire

The Daily Drone is published, financed and edited by Alastair ‘Bingo’ McIntyre with contributions from the veteran journalists of old Fleet Street, London’s boulevard of broken dreams; Manchester, Glasgow and from the worldwide diaspora.  Dedicated to scribblers everywhere.

©Lord Drone, Whom God Preserve 2005-2024

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