SUNDAY 21 JULY  2024



Press Gazette’s former chief reporter Jean Morgan has died aged 86. She retired after 19 years reporting on the national and regional newspaper industry in 2003.






Sir — Why is it that drivers of fog-coloured vehicles never, ever put on their lights…in fog?


Redemption Road


Haven’t the foggiest — Ed


Sir — I predict that Home Secretary Suella Braverman will predict the imminent downfall of your resident seer and Keeper of the Drone Crystal Balls, G R Petulengro-Frame, by lunchtime yesterday.



It will come true at some time in the future. Keep thefaith! — Ed


Sir — Of course the planet is not flat. [See Poetry Corner.] If it were flat there would be no need for low gear on bikes. Leastways that's what I heard in the pub, so it must be true.


Petts Wood


Sir — It is a dirty game they're playing. Well done to the press for outing Harry, Megsy and Netflix for their misuse of photos and footage in the trailers for their reality series. Rather reminiscent of the fake headlines that were used in the Oprah interview. They didn't try to explain that fakery so it'll be interesting to see if they can explain away this chicanery.

What's bizarre is that they've distanced themselves from a show that they had made about themselves.

Love the comparison between Harry and Megsy and John and Yoko in some of the papers. The difference between the couples is that one out of the four was actually talented. Although you could argue that Yoko was a fair actress herself.

I see Paul Burrell has resurfaced although he isn't using his Kensington Palace nickname Barrack Room Bertha.

Jimi Hendrix, those like and dislike features were very common in magazines of yesteryear. Hendrix used to keep a diary, (ditto Keith Richards) hard to believe but true. Jimi would detail one of his extraordinary days, (bought new car...crashed new car...shagged 12 groupies etc) and sign off with SOS...Same Old Shit!


By cleft stick


Sir — With Christmas approaching, please allow me to inform readers that I have a box of Sooty, Sweep and Sue puppets for sale. They’re going very cheaply because, frankly, I just want them off my hands.


Much Squeaking



Sir — Your correspondent 

P O Sullivan-Shanks asked me to look into my crystal ball to forecast the winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock. I can confidently tell him that it will be Protektorat at 11-2. He should put the national debt on it plus his shirt. And to think some were doubting my powers.


By carrier pigeon


Dear Lord Drone — Your item in The Goss reminds me thata member of Colonel Richard Pine-Coffin’s family, a lady not built for hand-to-combat (but who knows, I don’t think any of our gentlemanly colleagues tried) graced the third floor of the Blackfriars Lubyanka. For a short time.

She worked as a casual reporter on Express Money. When her first copy arrived on the subs’ screens there was much checking. We had to get her byline right.

I do not remember her first name, but I think she was a granddaughter of the much decorated Colonel.


of this parish

By email


Sir —I too was shocked to learn that the world of typewriter-throwing, full-wine bloodied, Fleet St Man is being replaced by the fireplace at the Flying Fuck, and that some members have been waiting patiently but noisily, on the backstairs of the Tavistock Clinic after lunch for gender realighment.

Whatever would journalist Don MacKay say, that softly-spoken doyen from the Age of Romance and chivalry?

Announcements that female members are not exclusively women and don't need a penis to be a man, would shake the very foundations of El Vino, where doubtless Sir John Junor's forbidding voice still echoes around the wine barrels he enjoyed.

But if as Lord Drone indicates, men with no penises are now 'Sister Drones', what do we call men who, through no fault of their own, have their penises cut off by angry lovers, like John Bobbit?

Your full Woke attention please, it is a difficult and delicate matter.


Bollocks Cottage,

Upper Bottom.

Don’t ask me, cock, I only work here — Ed


Sir — Haven't you got anyone on the Drone’s vast staff who could have predicted the resignation of Sir Gavin Williamson, for God’s sake? Disappointed.


Fortune Cookie Crescent


Not until the pubs close — Ed


Sir — I have always believed that a Drone, by definition, is a male. Imagine my surprise therefore at your reference to “sister drones”.

Are we expected to believe that long-standing colleagues, notorious for their macho antics in the Snug Bar of the Flying Fuck, have been secretly taking the back stairs to the Tavistock Clinic for a spot of gender reassignment?

I think we should be told.



The Drone is strictly gender neutral on all matters. Our mission is to show full respect to all those Woke tossers — Ed


Sir —I note Suella de Vil has popped in to see her friends, the migrant ‘invaders’ at the Manston holding centre. She arrived by a Chinook twin rotor helicopter, usually to be found in war theatres such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Why Chinook at £3,500 an hour (not to mention all those nasty carbon emissions)? A train from St Pancras to Ramsgate, next to Manston, takes 46 minutes and costs £36. Asking for a friend.



Re: Gypsy Rose Petulengro- Frame

Please note the above individual who has been brought to our attention is not an accredited member of our brotherhood and any prognostications he may make are exercises in self-aggrandisement and should be taken with a pinch of fairy dust.

Members of the public who encounter him should back off and ring our Help Line for immediate assistance.


Cosa Nostradamus

The Old Bell


He’s a she, isn’t he? — Ed


Sir — I was so pleased to see that you have appointed my old colleague Gypsy Rose Petulengro-Frame as your resident astrologer. Once he has settled in, I wonder if he could give me the winner of the Betfair Chase at Haydock on the 19th.


Flying Furlong



Sir — In view of his new woke redefinition, how does Lord Drone expect us to interpret government policy that “fracking can only be conducted with the consent of residents and/or approval from Health and Safety?”

For that matter, does he consider my customary Friday night, er, frack with a friendly barmaid behind my local constitutes a danger to surrounding communities and indeed the planet itself?


Via Twatter


Sir — Please allow me space to offer the following unwanted gift for sale:

Giltlike badge (worn once) featuring iconic Crusader figure accompanied by effusive citation, lovingly inscribed on vellumette, displayed inside bespoke WoodaLike plastic frame (as new). Offers invited. Purchaser to collect.





Sir — Good to see Lord Drone giving valuable space to the book by pipe-smoking sports cartoonist extraordinaire, Roy Ullyett.

He was such a jovial and talented sports cartoonist, and something of a local celebrity in his hometown of Westcliff-on-Sea, where he would often be found walking along the cliff top near his house in the historic conservation area of the Victorian seaside Riviera, if he wasn’t residing in his Menorca, or was it Majorca, villa.

I shared a train journey with him once and he looked rather upset.

“What’s up Roy? Problems?” I helpfully asked as he sucked on his unlit pipe under his handlebar moustache and frowned.

It transpired that the originals of scores of his cartoons had disappeared from his filing cabinet. A newsroom theft was recorded, and a hunt was going on but to no avail. The matter was a mystery until some months later.

Roy was invited to a prestigious opening of a new West End Sports club. The owner met him at the entrance and took him down to the cellar bar where he walked past a complete collection of his framed work on the walls. Someone had found a market for Roy's missing pencil strokes of history. Rows followed.



Sir — We’re all used to the concept of Working From Home but now I read that Working From Pub is catching on.

What’s so new about that?


Truth and Reconciliation Suite

Flying Fuck

Today's papers



Cartoon of the day

Jeremy Banks, FT



HARD LIFE: From the Daily Star (of course)



DERAILED: RMT general secretary Mick Lynch


To the Anglers, our local, for the Drone’s Christmas piss-up. A good time was had by all. The Editor, sensibly, after last year’s debacle, gave his annual pep talk early in the proceedings (he gets a bit slurry after a few). The subs, predictably, were unseemly and out of hand. Old sweats, though, go for a pee when they start turning their jackets inside out. Not for me a fusillade of incoming Brussels. Interesting to meet our Country Boys, Teddy and Oliver, invited up for the occasion. I asked Ollie how they met. Apparently, it was at a production of The Sound of Music. He recalled: ‘I fell when Ted turned to me and said: “Those lederhosen really suit you”’. Aaah.


Not content with earning more than £1million from a mere four speaking engagements since he was given the heave-ho in September, Boris Johnson fancies another line of work: poetry recitals. ‘I now have a pretty stonking repertoire,’ he writes modestly in The Spectator. ‘In 35 minutes I can do the first 100 lines of The Iliad, the first 100 lines of the Aeneid, the first canto of the Divine Comedy and the whole of Lycidas. I propose to fill this unexpected hiatus in my career with vast lucrative theatrical renditions of these great texts, in ascending chronological order.’


The joy of reading the news online is enhanced by readers’comments on the end of stories. At the end of a report on the BBC News website headlined 'Breakthrough in nuclear fusion energy announced’some wit commented: 'Hope Harry and Meghan are ok with this.'

Lovely stuff.


Bardot? Non, merci! Discerning young thrusters, I am assured, always preferred the more nuanced lusciousness of Mylene Demongeot, who has just died aged 87. La Demongeot, who was born in Nice, appeared in more than 100 films in French, English, Italian and Japanese (!).

Her latest movie, Maison de Retraite, in which she stars with Gerard Depardieu, is the most popular film in France this year.

Adieu ma belle!


As I sync my glittering new rhinestone-inlaid iPhone18 Pro Max, I ponder how we coped before pagers and mobiles. Particularly, how people such as the Prime Minister kept in touch. Semaphore? Flaming beacons? Thanks, then, to Max Hastings’s new book, Abyss, for revealing how Churchill and Attlee et al could be contacted if the country came under attack. The answer was that the AA’s radio rescue system would have been asked to alert the PM’s driver to stop at the nearest phone box. Hastings says that it was even suggested that the chauffeur be issued with the four pennies then necessary to operate a public call box.


Fancy a few shavings of collateral on your pasta? The Italian bank Credem has the answer. Since 1953 it has allowed cash-light farmers seeking loans to offer large wheels of Parmesan as collateral. Interest on the loans is offset by the value of the cheese which increases as it matures. The bank holds 500,000 wheels in two high security warehouses. They’re worth an estimated €200 million. Who knew?


One of my first tasks of the day is to read the obituaries in The Times. They always cheer me up; after all, if I can read them I am, by definition, doing better than the subjects.But occasionally there is another reason to be cheerful. Yesterday it was the headline on a page devoted to the life of a man called Jet Black: 'Drummer of The Stranglers, the punk band that ranked alongside the Sex Pistols but let the side down by winning an Ivor Novello award'.

I wish I’d written that one.


It’s a good job all those ex-Express scribblers out there have nice company pensions because there ain’t much money in authorship these days. In 2006 the median full-time income was £12,330; this year it’s £7,000 — a drop of 60 per cent when you count inflation.

If this continues, says Joanne Harris in the Guardian, only the elite few authors will be able to continue and ‘readers will be restricted to a small selection of books by a narrow range of authors’. Worrying, isn’t it?


It had to be California, of course. The Golden State now has a break-up boot camp where, for $4,000, sad singletons spend three nights of contemplation and terminal wokery. Alcohol and drugs are taboo but daily activities include primal screaming and writing letters to exes and then ceremonially burning them. There are also lessons from a professional dominatrix about power dynamics through the lens of BDSM. How unlike the home life of our dear departed Queen.


Delicious obit in The Times on satirist, broadcaster and Standard columnist Victor Lewis-Smith. He could certainly turn a phrase. Once he accused a celebrated chef of ‘gastronomic alchemy…he’d made a pig’s ear out of a fish pie’.


I’m probably not allowed to use the term Yellow Peril but I just have so take note that China has at least 100 unofficial ‘police stations’ in at least 50 countries, according to The Guardian. Chinese security operatives in cities such as London, Paris, Milan Barcelona and Sydney use them as a base to harass and intimidate dissidents to repatriate. In Italy, which has the most stations, Chinese police are allowed to patrol cities to ‘assist’ Chinese tourists.


Thank you to those who claimed their crisp oncer for adding to LP Brevmin’s list of winter weather clichés to be avoided like the plague (Get on with it — Ed):

Arctic maritime airmass; widespread frosts; double digit sub-zero temperatures; wintry biteback; festive freezer; Polar fury; a bend in the Polar front; the odd flurry;snow ploughs on standby.


TV’s programme The Savoy at Christmas recalls the halcyon days when the hotel was once a sort of upmarket canteen for some senior Express execs. There’s a tale of Sir Larold Lamb being forced to take public transport to the Strand when his office car was off the road. Hopping aboard a west-bound No. 11 Routemaster outside PA, the great man ordered the conductor: ‘Take me to The Savoy!’


Who knew? Elizabeth Taylor amassed a fabulous fortune from films, including a percentage cut of Cleopatra, and husbands but this was easily eclipsed by a perfume she developed and marketed in 1991. White Diamonds, described as ‘a magical and glamorous fragrance’ has brought in £1.5billion (and counting).


Episode 3 of the Harry & Meghan Netflix series takes slightly scattershot aim at Royal correspondents: a topic that is guaranteed to get media excited.

A documentary researcher once told me the biggest headachesproducers invariably endure when making shows about the Royals don't come from the Palace. Nor do they come from nervous lawyers or network bosses.The most consistent source of drama, hissy fits and egomania when touching anything related to the Windsors? Royal correspondents, who absolutely hate other reporters horning in on their patch and are unbelievably precious about their representation on screen.


How are things going for Kelvin MacKenzie with his new media venture The Daily Disclosure?

He posted a job listing on Facebook this week, but comments were turned off by an admin after a prospective candidate asked how much experience they'd need in slandering dead football fans to be considered for the role.


The revelation that two psychics were among the alleged conspirators in the foiled Reichsburger Plot will come as no surprise to students of Germany’s far Right. As Ben McIntyre says in The Times: ‘No nutty German political conspiracy would be complete without its complement of occultists, soothsayers, mystics and others claiming paranormal powers and the ability to predict the future.’

I wonder if they have any link with G.R. Petulengro-Frame, the Drone’s resident visionary and seer, who presciently foretold the downfall of Suella Braverman.

Die Zigeunerin hält schtum — Ed



Remembrance of Things Pasta

She blew her fusilli,

my pretty penne,

when she found me watching

daytime tagliatelle.

Je ne spaghetti rien,

I responded in song,

but she did not linguini

for long,

just walked out

without further retort:

a hard lesson to be tortellini.

orzo I thought.

And so here I am,

on my macaroni,

and now my days feel


Brian Bilston


THERE was good news and bad news for the Express and Mirror in the wake of the Queen’s death.

Daily Express executive editor Karl Holbrook said the newspaper sold 75 per cent more copies than usual on the day after the Queen's death.



A Christmas miracle




Far be it from me to criticise a newspaper with no discernible revise mechanism, writes Chief Sub LP BREVMIN, but the head on the tragic explosion in St Helier doesn’t need to include the word Jersey (even in the Jersey Evening Post).

What about:

Five dead and four still

missing as blast rips

through block of flats



Not being treated with love and respect?

Check your unique ‘price tag of life’.

Maybe you’ve marked yourself down:

Remember, it’s you who tells people

What you’re truly worth by what you

accept and put up with. Not others.

Get off the ‘clearance rail’. Get behind

The glass where they keep all the valuables.

That’s where you belong. Valued. Desired.


Express and Mirror circulation rises but advertising revenue falls in wake of Queen’s death

Circulation was up 30 per cent on the day Her Majesty died on 9th September and on the day after her funeral on the 20th but advertising revenue for print and digital was ‘significantly reduced’, publisher Reach announced.

Digital revenue declined by 8.1 per cent in September as brands deferred or cancelled ad campaigns during the 11-day period of national mourning for the Queen.

Despite the hit to ads in print and digital in September, the company said it expected an uplift for the final part of the year, traditionally the strongest for advertising.

Press Gazette reported that Reach chief financial officer Simon Fuller has 'mutually agreed' with the company to step down on 31 December. He will be succeeded by Darren Fisher, who is joining from ITV where he is group director of finance and divisional chief financial officer for the media and entertainment division.

BONFIRE OF THE SUBS: Man pregnant by wife who died four years ago. Spotter MARGARET ASHWORTH

Geniuses who quietly turned Old Lady Times intoa much improved version of the Daily Mail

Woolly thinking on Jersey

Similarly, what the frack* is a ‘jaffer’? Surely, the slang term for an unplayable ball (qf S.Warne, J. Anderson) should be Jaffa: an orange. Alternatively, ‘a peach of a ball’. I suggest the clue is that they are both cylindrical … like a cricket ball.*T&Cs


Ian Stocks, a much-loved and respected figure on the Sunday Express and Evening Standard subs tables for 40 years, has died aged 84.

Ian, whose daughter Elaine is also a sub, started his Saturday shift at the Sunday Express in 1967 which he continued until his retirement in 1996. It was here he met his wife Betty Fryer, who was the newsdesk secretary.

One of Ian’s passions was the Evening Standard Pudding Club which involved the subs trooping out of the officeeach afternoon to eat, er, somepudding, although theconsumption of such comestible was not mandatory.


Alan Ashworth has written an excellent account of his friendship with Tony Gallagher, the new editor of The Times.


Labour MP Chris Bryant has called for Paul Dacre’s peerage to be delayedwhile the Daily Mail faces legal action over alleged privacy breaches.


DAILY Express Political Correspondent Peter Hooley, who covered Westminster for more than two decades, has died aged 69 after a short illness.

Peter, the son of a Bomber Command veteran, first worked on Fleet Street in the early 1980s for the Daily Star’s Investigations unit before becoming part of the Daily Express political team, reporting on the Winter of Discontent and the premiership of Margaret Thatcher. He went on to cover Home Affairs before joining the Sunday Express which he left in 1996.

He combined great political insight with a sense of the ridiculous which was vital in the sometimes pompous world of politics.

Peter, who grew up in Harrogate, went on to become a press officer for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. A keen angler, he specialised in fishing issues and particularly enjoyed a secondment to the Caribbean.

He leaves a widow, Sarah, who is also a journalist, and two daughters.

John Ingham told the Drone: 'He was a top man and a fine reporter.'


FORMER Express and Mailman Scott Gormley died on September 15 after a long illness. He was 78.

Scott began his career on localnewspapers in Shropshire beforemoving to the Daily Mirror.

Helater worked on the Daily Mail,Daily Express and finally the Mail on Sunday,where he became Chief Sub Editorbefore being promoted to Executive Production Editor and later Head of Production at the launchof the Financial Mail on Sunday.

MoS personal finance editor Jeff Prestridge said: 'Scott couldgrasp the heart of a financial storyin seconds and bring it to life on the page through imaginative display and headlines. His stellarproduction skills helped to makeFinancial Mail the best of its kind.'

Scott left the MoS in 2000 andretired to Shropshire, whee heindulged his passion for golf.

He leaves a wife Tina anddaughter Beth.



Sir — I call on the landlord to investigate shocking scenes in the Back Bar of the Flying Frack* as customers clamoured to obtain drinks after Last Orders was called. A horrified witness has told me he saw drinkers being manhandled and having abuse shouted at them. He added: ‘Some of them were in tears and I am sure many cried themselves to sleep. It’s appalling.’



*Authorised usage


Sir — Your correspondent Dumpster thinks I should apply for the post of Grape Feeder at Bacchanalia, the proposed new restaurant from that strange chap, the over tanned, over coiffed and over rich Richard Caring. A knowledge of Latin and Greek (ancient presumably) will be a requirement.

I adulatus sum sec non.

What’s more I prefer my grapes bottled.



Sent via chariot


Sir — I see plans are afoot to pay us all £10 a day for turning off the rads in the depths of winter. Good. I'm going to spend it in the pub where it's never cold.


Petts Wood


Sir — My local garden centre cafe is introducing a ‘glutton-free menu’. Hurrah! I hate to see all those fat men chomping through multiple dishes, don’t you?




Sir — As promised (Eh? — Ed), I write to update you on my attempt to break my best time of 3hours, 10mins, 9secs for the London Marathon. I was doing pretty well but going through Docklands I got bored and switched over to catch Nadiya’s Everyday Baking on BBC2.




I'm wondering if The Drone will be the first newspaper, online or otherwise, to use King Charles's initials in a headline.


Petts Wood

Where the Drone leads others follow — Ed


Express and Mirror to open New York office, just like the old days

PLANS to launch US operations for the Express, Mirror and Irish Star have been announced by publisher Reach.

Thecompany said it planned to grow the American audience for the titles with a New York office and new staff, according to Press Gazette.

More bespoke US-focused content in new verticals on their existing .co.uk websites will begin to be published early in 2023 ahead of their respective .com launches.

Reach will also launch a .com online presence for the currently print-only Irish Star to chase the‘sizeable' Irish American population using dedicated correspondents in New York City, Boston and Pennsylvania.

Holding pages for each of the .com domains are now live, revealing the brands’ US logos and telling visitors: “We’re working hard to finish the development of this site so check back soon!” The domains are the-express.com, themirror.com and irishstar.com.

Staff for the US operations will ultimately number about 100 by the end of 2023, although the job hiring process will be staggered rather than all coming at once.

Reach said it would begin hiring journalists already based in the US in the 'coming months' while existing staff will also be offered the chance to apply for roles and secondments across the Atlantic. The company will also begin the process of procuring a New York office.

Recruitment for reporting, social media, multimedia and editor roles have already begun, with the view of the jobs starting in the New Year.


In the latest edition of his blog, Alan Ashworth recalls the Daily Mail’s Black Museum which documented the horrific errors of reporters and copy takers which, but for the subs, would have found their way into the paper.


Tony Boullemier has gone to the trouble to remind Lord Drone that his The Little Book of Monarchs, first published in 2013, is still available, covered in dust and slightly foxed, at a mere £5.99 in paperback.


The first national radio station to break the news of the Queen’s death, according to research provided to RadioToday, was Times Radio at 18.31.


Former Mailman Alan Ashworth has written in his entertaining blog about an old colleague from the Burnley Evening Star who turned beer drinking into an art form.


Went for a job at a blacksmiths the other day. The interviewer asked me if I'd ever shoed a horse.

I said 'No, but I've told a donkey to fuck off."

Belfast Live editor Ryan Smith revealed on Twitter he would be moving to New York in early 2023 to edit the Irish Star’s US operation.

Group editor-in-chief Lloyd Embley, who has led the venture with chief digital publisher David Higgerson, said: 'The experience and data we’ve gathered over recent years, both on our existing national titles and from launching dozens of newsbrands from scratch, will ensure we are in a strong position to take advantage of this opportunity to reach millions more readers every day.’


From The Encyclopedia of Alternative Fact

Frankenstein was the monster's name.

There's no such thing as climate change.

A solero is a type of hat.

The planet is not round but flat.

Six is the legal drinking age.

Women are paid an equal wage.

Elvis was influenced by Take That.

The planet is not round but flat.

Achilles had a dodgy knee.

Terror comes from refugees.

Insomnia affects most cats.

The planet is not round but flat.

There are no fascists on the rise.

A politician never lies.

It's impossible to change a fact.

The planet is not round but flat.

Brian Bilston


December 7, 2022

Drone Towers, Walton-on-Thames

Her Grace the Lady Drone popped out for a few bits ahead of the Christmas rush at Morrisons, Monument Hill, Weybridge. Awards nominee Ms Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee), Bag Carrier-Waiting, was in attendance.

Afterwards, her ladyship graced Costa Coffee in Brooklands Road, Weybridge, with her presence and consumed an Americano with hot milk on the side and an iced bun.

His Grace the Lord Drone attended the Christmas gathering of the World’s Greatest Lunch Club at the Boulevard Brasserie, Covent Garden. His lordship proposed the toast ‘Absent Friends’ and took part in the club’s inaugural Handshakes and Hugs closing ceremony. Mr Ronnie Rambleshanks, dealer principal of Skodas4U, West Byfleet, was in attendance and acted as chauffeur.

Later His Grace, in response to a text, called in at Woodlark Nurseries, Burhill Road, Hersham, and purchased two hot pink princettias for the hall at Drone Towers.


Ingham of the Express pens a Viking saga

Former Daily Express environment editor JOHN INGHAM has been using his retirement usefully by writing a book.

The synopsis for Blood-Eagle reads: Deep frozen midwinter in a Viking warlord’s longhouse. From the snow emerges a white-haired saga-teller, Snorri, who offers to entertain the drunken warband.

Sven Ravenfeeder agrees – but drops a noose around Snorri’s neck and tells him: “If we like your story, you will live...”

So begins the Blood-Eagle Saga – a tale of greed and betrayal, courage and cowardice, that takes rival Viking longships across the Atlantic to a new world of depravity.

In the menacing forests and on the vast bison-rich plains, Viking enemies Grim and his former right-hand man Asgeir battle over honour and treasure. Along the way, they find themselves in another equally proud and brutal warrior culture, that of the native Americans.

Throughout Asgeir is helped by his muse, Mary, a shape-shifting former Irish slave who has every reason to hate Grim.

At the heart of the saga is one burning question that sends Sven and his men into a frenzy – who will be the victim of the Vikings’ favourite torture – The Blood-Eagle?

John’s book is published on December 16 and can be preordered in paperback for £11.99 from AmazonHEREor directly from the publishers HERE where it is also available as an ebook for £3.50.



IN THE SLOT: The Times’s chief sports writer Owen Slot makes friends with the natives during a break from the World Cup in Qatar. 

Picture research: Awards nominee Rosalie Rambleshanks (trainee)


Charles Laurence: A heartfelt appreciation

Charles Laurence, who has died aged 72, was a newspaper correspondent who covered the 1982 Falklands War for The Sunday Telegraph and later became chief New York correspondent for The Daily Telegraph.

His friend MARGARET ASHWORTH has written a heartfelt appreciation of theflamboyant reporter and Jaguar enthusiast.


Ashamed of the scars life has left you?

Don’t be. They mean your wounds have

healed. You’ve conquered your pain,

Learned a lesson; grown stronger.

Scars are tattoos of triumph: be proud.

Don’t allow them to hold you hostage.

Start seeing life’s scars as a sign

Of strength and fortitude; not pain.

(Pass thesick bag, Alice — Ed)



Bunny old world



Sir — I write in reference to your utter bollox about signs and hangman’s nooses hanging from the yellowing, nicotine-stained, supposedly clean-air pipes on the ceiling of the old Express newsroom in the Black Lubyanka.

I will never forget late one afternoon when three workmen in white sterile space suits and helmets entered through the doorway opposite the gentleman’s latrines with a ladder and some spanners. Did we have an overflow into the corridor and into Diver's secretive locker?

Under the watchful eye of a management executive wearing a mask, which appeared to cover up an orange beard, they set about wrenching off the dusty yellow and brown-stained, air conditioning pipes and grills, as splash sub, Peter Hedley puffed on his pipe thoughtfully and SAS hero Billy Montgomery lit another Guards cigarette, blowing out the smoke and looking on incongruously.

Hurried union meetings were called. Was the management endangering the lungs of gentleman journalists, most with packets of 20 or pipes on their desks? Was this a time for danger money? The talks with management went on for days and so did the work above, with drafts and dust bursts blowing through.

It was all finally settled amicably with assurances that the pipes were being updated. Dust sheets were laid on the floor and the old asbestos lining we never knew about above our heads, was removed over several days by the men in the sterile suits who grew in number, as we worked innocently on in shirtsleeves.

Sometime later we were editing stories about a ban on the import of raw blue asbestos into the UK following a world health scare on lung disease — because it was widespread in buildings but not detected until years on. (Er, cough).



Sir — I worked as photographer on the Brighton Argus from 1970 before I gave up in 2000 for a quieter life.

Brighton was a great newsy place back then with photographers from the dailies in town most days, The passing of Roger Bamber, ex Mail, Sun, Guardian and resident of Brighton, made think of past times working with some of the greats. I had many good time with Express man Stan Sherman socially, sometimes very socially!

One of the snappers passing through during the late 70s was Alasdair Loos of the Daily Star, I have searched online for him but drawn a blank.

Does anyone know of his whereabouts??



Thanks to Michael Hellicar we have found Alasdair Loos, who has changed his surname to Lyall.


Sir — I'm now so old and deaf that I need subtitles for the wireless.


Petts Wood


Sir — I’ve noticed that some bloke in a cardigan has started to contribute rambling reminiscences to the Drone. Could you please ask him to put a trim in it?

I find I often drop off as I’m reading them but when I do reach the end, the intro is inevitably in the final paragraph.


Great Snoring



Sir — Given that our new PM is keen to put our Napoleonic friend or foe President Macron firmly in his box by telling us "the jury is out" on his behaviour, I am reminded again of the Thatcher years and life within the yellowing walls of the Daily Express.

Always a guest of a certain Editor, who once went down on his hands and knees with her ... over a map of the Falklands to see where it was as we went to war, many hacks will remember a particular day she arrived for one of her copious glasses of whisky in her favourite newspaper office.

Perrier Water was the In-Trend drink at the time on the subs' tables ... oiling the tummies of clock watchers eyeing copy times for the last pages before retiring to their Fleet St bars of choice.

Story goes that warlord Maggie appeared on the Editorial floor like a Pied Piper with senior executives in tow, and spied a bottle of the French answer to Highland Spring. She was apoplectic and demanded to know why the French dishwater was in the newspaper home of the British Empire.

From that day on Perrier was banned from the building, or so the story goes.

Footnote: On another visit, hacks were aggrieved to use the stairs when an Express lift was sealed off, while workmen plastered its walls with Tory blue cellophane for the Great Lady's ascendancy to the floor where Lord Stevens was pouring the whisky.



Sir — Absorbing the latest grim news about the Tories, cost of living, Ukraine etc, I went for a relaxing stroll. There in front of me were four sinister chaps on horseback, one of whom was carrying a nasty-looking knife. I don’t want to be alarmist but should I be concerned?


Revelation Road


If you want to — Ed


Sir —The humour of Tory devotee William Hague, once said by Maggie Thatcher to be the next William Pitt, has never appealed to me, even when I had a jock-ular half and a half drinking with him once in a Scottish bar.

But I was impressed with the recall of a Daily Mail reader this week, who said that when Mr Hague was leader of the Opposition in 2000, he rose to speak in the Commons about London’s forthcoming mayoral elections and brought the house down.

He told MPs the Labour Party was not content with one candidate, but were putting up two to share the position. Frank Dobson would be the day mayor while Ken Livingstone would be the nightmare!




SIR — I must take issue with the letter from Jess Askin-Shanks asking why it is that many ubiquitous women complaining about the cost of living in telly interviews always have tattoos, expensive to feed dogs and monster TVs etc. That is unfair comment.

Indeed I was watching a young, single mother in skimpy attire being interviewed on BBC TV last week, and she didn’t have a tattoo showing anywhere, as she ranted about Boris not doing enough to pay for her eight children, who squeezed on the sofa with her. Surely, we mustn’t judge.




Sir — May I draw your readers’ attention to these latest potential dangers to their health and well-being?

** The Motherwell Institute for Purposeful Anxiety has warned that blowing your nose more than four times a day carries a 27 per cent increased risk of developing painful piles after the age of 50.

** A study of 64,000 weekend cyclists by researchers at the Ferguson Institute for Statistical Obfuscation has found that saddle-burn among 25- to 38-year-old males led to reduced fertility in 19 per cent of cases.

** Increasing flatulence, coupled with instances of nasal anaesthesia leading to attempted life-taking, have been uncovered in a survey by Indolent Science plc among 54 members of vegan social clubs in the Cardiff area during the first half of June 2022.

You have been warned.




Sir — Why is it that the ubiquitous women complaining in telly interviews about the cost of living crisis always have tattoos, expensive to feed dogs, monster TVs and expensively lacquered nails?


Fracking Magna


A reader from Petts Wood comments: Reminds me (I can't think why) of the only rabbit-related Joke I know, which is:

I know a girl who's completely bald

But seems to have no cares.

For she paints rabbits on her head


Ozzy Osbourne says he stopped doing acid after he took ten tabs in one day, went for a walk in a field and heard one of the horses tell him to fuck off.

And people think they're hares.



Please tell the duffers at MailOnline that‘Prince' Charles is King now ...

Spotted by IAN BAIN, who writes: 'I sent a comment to MailOnline suggesting the headline writer may not yet be aware that Charles is now King. They killed the comment and kept the headline.'



You don’t say! Kindly remind the twerps at the BBC website that December tends to be cold

STEVE MILL comments: 'Hypothermia cases rise at Hampstead lido.Absolute magic, a kind of slow news day story.’



Your Drone raises the Bar at last with exclusive legal news

Middle Temple

The following have been called to the Bar this Michaelmas term: Sartaj Ahmed Aumeer; Yee Kei San Tanfastic; Wan Zheng Arkwright; Kumar Sachu Karishma-Shanks; Aaron Gumis Parboilpotato; Nazeerah Shuaib Satraite; Jalal Chohan Fortescue-Pirbright; Aleena Jezebel Priti Balloon; Song Kai Tune; Ginnie Tonicsolfa; Ze Xing Lager Lim; Ian Yesuvin Jefferson Sobnack-Airplane; Elton Chun Ze Ti; Callum Goh Zhang Fu; Evelina Zheng Hong See; Pushparajan Vincent Xavier Yikes Zackon; Teoh Batool Ford-Zephyr; Piyush Atul Grimshaw III; Prem Sahiil Clubman; Joshua Andrew Nathan Pilton Heckmondwitch; Caitlin Shanks-Corrigan; Alex William Wallace Braveheart; Mohd Syafi’e Habibuallah Manners; Sid Smith.



Self-styled‘expert' Mike Parry is tricked over vegan banger


Roy Collins, former chief sports writer at Today and The People, has died suddenly in Spain at the age of 73.

His friend, and one-time flat mate, PAUL WEAVER has paid a very personal tribute on the Sports Journalists’ Associationwebsite.



Sir — Further to my earlier master class in taking GCSE results pictures, it’s good to see that the Mirror has taken notice.


Snappers R Us


But where are the short skirts you promised? — Ed


Sir — I read on Page 24 in the Daily Mail today that Wisbech has been moved from Cambridgeshire into Norfolk. Is this due to subsidence, Brexit or a vote on independence that I have missed? As Wisbech is only five miles from Lincolnshire, wouldn’t moving it a little further north been a better choice?


Still residing in Essex, I think.


Sir Leafing through my copy of The Times, I noticed that on 21 news pages, there were 17 credits from other sources for stories. Uplifting indeed!

In my day in the far-off Seventies and Eighties, pieces were often heavily disguised to pretend to show that the stuff was original.

Here is my thank-you list, all in The Times’ easy-to-spot italics: The Independent, Sky News, The Guardian, The Sunday Times (2),The Sun on Sunday, The Mail on Sunday (3), The Sunday Telegraph (3), The Observer (2), Saga Magazine, Sleep Medicine Reviews and the Architects Journal.

Saved me buying that lot!




Sir — Someone on Radio 4's One O'Clock news today spoke of problems facing the next Prime Minister, 'whoever they might be'. And here's me thinking we get only one of 'em at a time.


Petts Wood


Sir — Allow me to pass on a tip to photographers covering exam results this summer.

Collect about 10 pretty girls in short skirts, give them some sheets of paper (results!) to hold and ask them to leap excitedly in the air at the same time.

Should make a good, original pic: certainly, I’ve never seen it before.


Dark Room

Flying Fuck

Isn’t it time for your nap? — Ed


Sir — With all these water restrictions going around, has anyone any advice on what I should do about Geronimo, my wall-mounted high-tech Japanese Smart Toilet?

He uses a lot of water, not to mention power for the blow-dry function. Will I be forced to abandon my “zero paper” bathroom?


Pratt’s Bottom

(I’ll sit this one out — Ed)


Junor’s loyal servant Davidson dies at 81

Max Davidson, long-suffering features editor of the Sunday Express and Sir John Junor’s right-hand man, has died after a short battle with cancer. He was 81.

Max was also gardening correspondent and as features editor was in charge of editing Junor's weekly Current Events column. He also had to cajole the staff into writing Letters to the Editor when readers weren't up to snuff.

A colleague recalls that he was very generous in handing out travel freebies.

Peter Steward told the Drone: 'Like most of us who worked for Junor, things could get a bit sticky under editors who followed Junor. I think, like me, Max left in 1996 when Addis took over the sinking ship.’

The death notice in the Daily Telegraph reads: 'Maxwell Hugh Davidson died peacefully, with his family by his side on 19th October 2022, aged 81. Husband of Patricia and much loved father of Peter and Fiona, grandfather of Daniel, Grace, Luke, Maxwell and James. Funeral will take place at St Mary’s, Old Amersham at 2.15 p.m. on 5th December. No flowers please. Donations to www.macmillan.org.uk'

St Mary's Church, is in Flint Barn Court, Church Street, Old Amersham HP7 0DB, afterwards at King's Chapel, 30 High Street, Old Amersham HP7 0DJ.


26. Potts drives to the rescue

Ooh-er, Quite a to-do up at the Vicarage, my spies tell me. Actually, one spy: Mrs McGrandle who’s taken over doing for our neighbour, Binky, from the Major (may flights of angels etc). No, apparently the domestic harmony between the Rev Prune and her ethereal ‘sexton’, Lavinia, was rudely shattered the other night when the original sexton, Sally, a burly, moustachioed former Royal Military Police Provost Sergeant, decided to call by unannounced.

Regular readers will recall that she stomped off to join the Met’s SWAT Gang (Group - Ed) after that imbroglio involving Prune, the Archdeacon’s daughter and a lascivious set of tonsil tennis at a diocesan piss-up (ecclesiastical conference - Ed). We don’t really know what went on but suffice to say a tearful Lavinia called Potts the village taxi driver in the middle of the night and decamped to Mummy over in Wiveliscombe. The course of true love, eh?

God, hasn’t it been miserable? We’re on oil here but Ted hates turning on the heating because of the sky high prices (fracking* Putin!) and that wood burner he insisted on installing in the Snug just eats fuel. It’s my fault: I should have resisted buying it when I knew that muggins here would not only have to source the wood but clean the bloody stove every morning. My hands!

I must say Frame Hampton’s looking a bit wan as winter approaches. The Pilton’s Crabwurt along the South Wall appear to have developed some sort of blight and the Weeping Zackondia bordering Binky’s place look to have come over all unnecessary.

A new innovation: (No! Ed) We went to see a giant killing! Ted insisted on joining the throng when Chippenham Town played those knuckle-draggers, Lincoln, in the FA Cup. 1-0 to gaffer Gary Horgan and the home team. ‘The lads done good,’ said Ted, who’d already let himself down by devouring a foot-long sausage in a bread roll and enough spitefully priced Stella for me to have pilot the Yaris home (in the dark) Lager lout!

The winter gloom was lightened by our favourite lady, Farisha, the Singhs’ eldest, just starting her second year at med school, who popped around and told us of a staff meeting she attended when a consultant walked in with a rectal thermometer stuck behind his ear. When a colleague asked him why he said: ‘Damn! Some arsehole’s got my pen.’ See you in triage.




Sir — Please accept the attached entry into the Daily Drone’s exciting new Ryan Giggs Love Poetry Competition. I should be grateful if you could tell me if I’ve won.

It’s a pity your ditty

Is so shitty, Kitty

But — to be terse —

Your blank verse

Is worse, nurse



Thats enough doggerel — Ed


Your Grace,

Forgive us for interfering with you but your so-called ‘editor’ always seems to be swanning (geddit?) off on holiday

We, the undersigned, respectfully demand that, as a matter of urgency, you order the resumption of the reading of the football results in the Back Bar of the Flying Fuck-up at 5pm every Saturday.

This is a hallowed tradition passed down from father to son and is a lustrous thread in the rich tapestryof our islands’ history etc.


You’re all fired for going behind my back. Anyway I have now returned from my brief break — Ed


Sir — Sorry to disturb your holiday idyll in sunny Swansea but I think you should name and shame the wuss sub-editor who insists on riding his Harley-Davidson cowering behind a Klock Werks windshield.

The late great Sonny Barger must be doing wheelies in his freshly-dug grave.

I suspect I know who it is, though: the Jessie who didn’t like going on the stone in case he got his hands dirty.


Back Bar Truth and Reconciliation Suite

As you are the author of the piece to which you refer perhaps you can enlighten us as to the person’s identity rather than hide behind these absurd Shankssoubriquets which litter this website — Ed


Sir — Allowing Oliver, your Country Boys ‘diarist’ to use favourite desserts, such as Sticky Toffee Pudding and Spotted Dick, in a blatantly sexual context in an attempt to wring cheap laughs (not everyone gets the joke, you know) is vulgar and demeaning.

Any more of it and I’ll banish you to the naughty step (ie cancel my subscription).



Is that a promise or a threat? — Ed


Sir — In view of today’s gender sensitivities, when an aircraft is being flown by pilots identifying as female, shouldn’t a more appropriate word be found for the cockpit?




Sir — Your lordship might consider offering an award for an alternative to the cliche 'broad' daylight, as in murders and robberies. After all, who has ever heard of narrow daylight?


Petts Wood

PS: Your correspondent Fred Quimby rightly seeks a non-sexist alternative to 'cockpit', as in aircraft. How about organ loft?

*Authorised version

SUNSET FOR RUPERT Lefty activists have ensured The Sun will fold within six years says ex-editor Kelvin

By KELVIN MACKENZIE, writing for Press Gazette

I was told last week that the management of News UK had looked at the circulation decline of The Sun over the year, then threw in the startling decline in the paper’s advertising revenue, and worked out that sadly, the newspaper would close in six years.

There is nothing unusual in this forecasting. A few years back Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News UK, told me shortly after firing me as a columnist for not knowing Premiership footballer Ross Barkley had a Nigerian grandfather (who knew? a Chelsea fan? Rupert?) they thought The Sun had 15 years to go before the last paper was published.

So the demise of print (not digital) is speeding up. It’s inevitable. Perhaps they might try carbon dating Rupert Murdoch and see how long he will last as that will definitely decide how long The Sun stays open.

With its choice of stories and general editorial view, The Sun has not helped itself to survive over the last few years as a print product. I do understand the problem the management faces as it affects every centre-right media. The Daily Mail and Mail Online is a victim too. Even Elon Musk has complained about the lefty activists putting the hard word on advertisers leading to a multi-million dollar loss in revenues.

This is how the activists work. They send emails to media buying groups acting on behalf of the retailers (and the CEO of the retailer itself) citing any story they don’t approve of, normally meaning race, trans, free speech, union excess etc. They urge the retailer not to place the ad again (even better pull the entire campaign) or threaten them with a public boycott.

Not unreasonably, the retailer is puzzled. All they did was place an ad.

Media buyers, a lily-livered lot, fold immediately. Some of the dimmer ones even start giving their views on the editorial content of the paper. One Daily Mail sales guy was asked why a picture of Adele was on the front page. Give me strength.

The Sun had a choice. It could continue to publish ‘difficult’ stories and threaten its ad revenue or basically ask the editor to go easy on the accelerator. They chose the latter route. The circulation then fell away as the paper no longer reflected the interests of a white audience in its 50s.

Very few know today’s sales because the News UK management refuses to disclose the circulation publicly. The only people allowed to know the sacred number are media buyers (they need to know to work out the value of campaigns) and even they have to sign an NDA. Incredible.

I remember The Sun smashing through the four million mark and boasting all over page one with Rupert cheering us home.

I suspect the Sun’s sales are below 500,000 but that would look like a triumph to the management at Reach where the Daily Mirror is selling 290,000 every day and the Daily Star, which at least likes to make you smile every morning, is selling 168,000. So the day of the printed tabloid is coming to a swift end.

Nobody will be more pleased at their demise than the management of these publications. Employing thousands, buying and maintaining presses, purchasing newsprint, transporting the papers, dealing with retailers, renting huge offices. All bloody expensive.

Digital has none of these impediments. Straight from the journalist to a phone. However, if free, the lefty activists (note; they are always socialists) will continue to demand that media buyers and retailers don’t advertise with media companies whose articles and attitudes they don’t approve of.

This is an issue for all journalists. If you are of the left you can publish any old nonsense about the skint and the dim and the ads will pour in but if of the right your views will face a financial penalty.

So I have decided to become involved. In the New Year, I am starting a daily news site called Daily Disclosure aimed at a centre-right audience over 40. It will be free for six to nine months and then go to subscription. That guarantees it will never be a big hitter but the advantage is that my staff will not have to bow at the knee to a media buyer under pressure from some wild-eyed lefty.

It’s not only print media that suffers from these lefty campaigns. Take LBC, the successful national speech radio station. A couple of years back Nigel Farage landed a 6pm show on the station. It was an enormous hit. Ratings went off the dial. The execs were ecstatic. They had never seen numbers like this at 6pm before.

As a founder of TalkSPORT I can tell you finding talk ratings at 6pm is like looking for a Tory MP who hasn’t been Chancellor. But he had views on Black Lives Matter and the Bristol statue which were uncomfortable for advertisers (and some staff) and had to go.

His departure was welcomed by the lefty James O’Brien (he does 10am-1pm on LBC) who tweeted: “We have our station back’”. Not sure O’Brien is that left-wing. I hugely annoyed him a couple of weeks ago him by tweeting that he was sending his daughter to an expensive private school in South West London.

He went on a mad rant on Twitter, claiming I was the worst journalist ever to be employed by the Murdoch press. There has been huge competition for that position over the years. His outburst does prove these lefties don’t like it up ‘em.

Once we get up and running there will be a lot of that on Daily Disclosure.

🔴A spokesperson for News UK said: 'Any suggestion that The Sun is planning its closure are just nonsense and no such discussions have taken place. The Sun is the biggest news brand in Britain, as PAMCO and IPSOS numbers show, and we have ambitious plans for both digital revenue and audience growth. The Sun continues to break agenda-setting stories, hold the powerful to account and entertain our readers on a daily basis – both in print and online. Britain is always changing and The Sun is keeping pace with its audience.’

If The Sun is doing so well, why does the management not publish circulation figures? — Ed



Monty pulls out of bold

plan to takeover Mirror, Express and Star owner

By R SOULED Night Reporter

JOURNALISTS on the Express, Mirror and Star titles can breathe again. David Montgomery has decided not to bid for the papers’ parent company, Reach.

Montgomery’sNational World, which ownsthe Scotsman and the Yorkshire Post and a string of regional titles,said there would have been “considerable industrial and financial advantages to combining the newspaper portfolios of the two companies,” but concluded the circumstances were not right.

The company said it had already received “in principle financial support from within the investment community to fund a potential deal”.

Earlier this monthNational World said it was exploring a potential tie-up between the two publishers. It had not yet approached the board of Reach at that point.

Executive chairman Montgomery told Press Gazette last night: “National World has ambitious and fully fledged plans to grow our business, creatively and through acquisitions and partnerships. Our key goal is to continue to build a vibrant content business and we will do that.

“A combination with Reach could unlock very significant operational value for both companies, but not all the elements required to ensure a successful transaction were present.

“Rather than create unwanted management distractions for both companies and our respective shareholders, we have decided not to proceed with any discussions at this stage.

“We will focus on pursuing initiatives where we see clear value creation opportunities, primarily relating to content and technology-driven customer initiatives, facing the challenges with which all in the sector must contend.”

National World is the third biggest regional publisher in the UK after Newsquest bought Archant earlier this year. Reach is the biggest commercial news publisher in the country.T

Montgomery, an Ulsterman, who began his Fleet Street career as a sub-editor on the Daily Mirror, gained the reputation of being enthusiastic cost-cutter during his time as chief executive of Mirror Group, a forerunner to Reach and then of Mecom, a pan-European newspaper publisher he founded.

Montgomery’s cost cutting at the Mirror earned him the newsroom nickname Rommel, on the basis that “Montgomery was on our side”. He was ousted from Mecom by City institutions as its performance deteriorated following the financial crisis and the debts he accumulated building the company.

Staff at Reach had feared even more job cuts than they have suffered already.




Just think: twenty years ago this Bilston poem would have been totally meaningless but now it’s right on the button.

Love Poem, written in haste (with Autocorrect on)

O what Brave New Worm is this

that holes you, my sweet darting love?

I see you in the stairs that twinkle

up in the heavy above.

Your light shins down upon me

and sets my heart on fir.

You stir up my emoticons

and fill me with dessert.

I gazebo upon your lovely Facebook,

your rainy nose, sweet, unmissable;

the blue-greed eyes like limpet pools;

your petty mouse, juicy, kissable.

Come with meat, Angel of my Drums,

hold my ham, journalist into the night,

and together lettuce explore the worm,

over the horizontal and out of sigh.


Another great operator has been lost. Sub, writer and back bencher Ewen Campbell, who worked on the Daily Star, several national titles, the Northern Echo and papers in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Auckland, has died of cancer aged 69.


Mailman Alan Ashworth has written about subs’ drinks breaks in the latest edition of his blog. It certainly brought back happymemories ...


Mike Parry, former news editor of the Daily Express, has received a mixed reception following his appearances on Channel 5’s Jeremy Vine chat show.



Sir — Thank you for your reminiscence about Grey Cardigan, aka Mike Lowe (incidentally, a drinking pal of Terry Manners’) and especially Mungo, the Glaswegian sub who kept a house brick in his desk drawer ‘just in case’.

Why do I think that reminds me of someone?




Sir — Further to that priapism, mentioned In the Drone’s heatwave coverage, my missus wants to know if she can have it over the counter at Boots.


Much Drooping



Sir — Re the reference in The Goss to everyone’s favourite broadcaster, Sue Barker, and Beachy Head: was that supposed to be funny? If so, I didn’t get the joke.


Tunbridge Wells

So you’ve given up laughing at your own 'jokes’ then? 

— Ed


Sir — I note that the Daily Drone uses the four-letter F word quite a lot but I’ve excused that as locker room boisterousness. Now, though, your diarist employs the O word in a snide little piece (the diary item, not the Today programme presenter) about Mishal Husain. Shame on you! I am cancelling my subscription.


Much Cussing


Fuck off then — Ed


Sir — Now that the Tories are in such a two and eight, they’d do well to go along with that bloke who suggested Heseltine might do a turn. And what about that Jim Major? He looks the real deal and I bet that in a shared bath he’d volunteer to take the tap end. A proper gent.


Befnal Green


Sir — The Tories are looking for a new leader/prime minister: what about Michael Heseltine, I think it is? He’s new to me but I saw him on the telly and he talked a lot of sense.

What we need is someone of integrity like him who is above backstairs plotting to knife properly elected leaders in the back.


Poll Hill, Wirral


Sir — What an elegantly scripted and nostalgic reminiscence about Tony Fowler rushing back to the office in his jim jams when he thought Reagan had died.

Why did everything happen to him?


Fracture Clinic

Land O’Cakes


Sir — I am writing a feature about all the unforgettable people Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother met in her long life … and then promptly forgot.

Has any Drone reader got any pix to illustrate this? TIA.


Shanks Suite

Carlton Club

Don’t be silly — Ed


Sir — Apropos Terry Manners' nostalgic piece about the 1970 unions, I had an early experience of the power the Readers felt they had.

I was three weeks into my holiday relief subbing job on the Daily Sketch when I was asked to sub a filler about a go-slow at Her Majesty's Stationery Office. The headline count was 13 characters max, so I settled for Stationary, which the chief sub thought suitable. Going through the proofs some time later I noticed the headline had been changed to Stationery and alerted the chief sub, who told me to go to the Reading Room and get it corrected.

This was in the summer 1963, so I don't remember the details of the battle I had. But the gist of it is that I was told — quite rudely — that I had spelt Stationery wrongly and my headline should be changed. I tried to explain the subtlety, but the Reader wouldn't have it. Only 23 and not yet on the staff, I was unsure of my ground, so I went back to the Newsroom and told the chief sub what had happened. The headline was changed. 


By email


Sir — I see the jubilant victory cry from the winner of the Tiverton and Honiton by-election was: “The Lib Dems are coming!”

Surely not yet another case of the party’s premature ejaculation?




Sir — With sixmonths to go my local pub is inviting bookings for its Christmas Day Menu (£68 adults; £45 children under 12). Is this a record?


Bleak House



Sir — I note the complaint from ‘old hack’ concerning what he, she or they (latest guidelines compliant) says is an excess of contributors from the extended Shanks family.

As Ethics Advisor to Lord Drone I have ruled on this matter as follows: The Daily Drone is published by Drone Corp, a private company registered in Little Cayman and as such is entitled to employ any idiot prepared to work for little (or indeed no) reward.

The precedent is set by the Editor who is a martyr to his art, working tirelessly day and night (take in PA) etc etc.

I remain,


Shanks Towers,

Shanks in the Wold,



Sir — I note a disturbing number of persons of the Shanks persuasion are employed on your website. This not only ignores official diversity and inclusivity guidelines, but is evidence of positively incestuous levels of nepotism.

Meanwhile many once-legendary former colleagues, in various stages of decrepitude, are without gainful employment, with several reduced to administering their financial portfolios from spice-scented, palm-fringed holiday island beaches and living off non-British food and cheap local wine.

Have you no shame?


Via email

(No – Ed)


Sir — Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but the comprehensive new Asylum Seekers Action Plan, issued jointly by the Church of England archbishops and bishops, the Labour Party, the SNP, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and that ghastly woman from the Greens who looks just like a tortoise, seems to be the way forward.



You’re a cock-eyed optimist — Ed


Sir — OK, so post-Brexit Britain’s exports to the EU now stand at the highest level since records began but do the Labour Party, the BBC and fucking Robert Peston have to keep crowing about it?


Prayer and Contemplation Suite

Flying Fuck


Hello! What are we going to do about the young? My grandson hasn’t a clue who Neil Armstrong was or which instrument he played. Wonderful world? I think not.


Bonkers (Yonkers — Ed)


Sir — The receptionist at my GP’s surgery telephoned to say that I have something extremely rare: a face-to-face appointment with the doctor next Wednesday.


West Byfleet-sur-Mer

Brain Blister


A thought from our scribe Bilston which resonates with all news hacks:

Serenity Prayer

Send me a slow news day,

a quiet, subdued day,

in which nothing much happens of note,

just the passing of time,

the consumption of wine

and a re-run of Murder, She Wrote.

Grant me a no news day,

a spare-me-your-views day

in which nothing much happens at all —

a few hours together,

some regional weather,

a day we can barely recall.


We on the Drone love a character and Fred Shawcross was no exception.

Former Mailman Alan Ashworth has written a hilarious account of the great man whose career ranged from stone subbing to show business.

Here’s a sample:

When I arrived on the subs’ desk of the Lancashire Evening Telegraph in Blackburn, Fred had left some years earlier but they still talked of little else. How he would roll in an hour late after a night on the tiles, disappear in the direction of the bogs with a rolled-up Racing Post under his arm and announce to the chief sub: "Harry, I’ll be in Trap Three."

'How he would open the flap on the pneumatic copy tube to the composing room and shout: ‘Bridge here, give me more steam!’



Can Liz and Gina’s O necklaces be all about 

Orgies and Bondage?


Devotees of the Drone and, in particular, THE world’s greatest GOSSip column, will recall my item about the mysterious trinket habitually worn by former prime minister Liz (Lettice Leefe) Truss.

Those who know about these things aver that the gold circle on her necklace has connotations with the risqué novel The Story of O, an orgy of female submission and bondage.

Fascinating, then, that raven-haired temptress Gina Coladangelo was also wearing one as she jetted off to Oz to be reunited with lover Matt Hancock, currently doing a Golden E on I’m A Celebrity.

What can it all mean?

Answers on the back of an envelope to the nearest wastepaper bin — Ed



Former editor who just can’t let go of the reins

It can be hard to let go of a job after you've been there for years. Former editor of The Times John Witherow is finding that now, as he watches the paper he edited for a decade become a more middle-brow offering under former Sun and Daily Telegraph editor Tony Gallagher.

Witherow, 70, stepped down as editor in September and was kicked upstairs to be chairman of Times Newspapers.He had edited the title since January 2013, succeeding James Harding, and was editor of The Sunday Times from 1994 to 2013.

Perhaps it was news that Gallagher, who was also deputy editor of the Daily Mail, is looking to poach the Mail's sportswriter Martin Samuel that prompted him to try to grab back the reins. Witherow has been spotted increasingly often pacing the Times' corridors, suggesting features to Gallagher and sitting in on strategy meetings, which staff say he used to avoid like the plague when he was actually the editor.

This burst of activity has earned Witherow a new nickname in the office – after the TV character who kept hanging around the car park of his old office after being made redundant: David Brent.

Source: Popbitch



We provide the caption, you provide the photo!!!

Politician Yvette ‘Pixie’ Balls Cooper proudly displays the stubble of an embryo moustache she is growing to support Movember, the worldwide charity promoting male health awareness. The Labour frontbencher says excitedly: ‘When Keir said he couldn’t grow one I decided to step in. I am not normally hairy but experts tell me that by the end of the month I should have a luxuriant handlebar.’

Here’s the pic,personally selected by the editor!!!




Today’s young peopleclaim the postwar generation caused the UK's ills, but at least we didn’t wreck statues and block Mways

MOB RULE: Black Lives Matter supporters dump a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol Harbour

Sir —On my way home today from the Strewth Coupar Correctional Centre for Fleet Street Baby Boomers of which so many of us pensioners are now members, I couldn’t help but reflect on the feelings of guilt the new Woke generation has brought us. How wrong we got it.

Owning our houses; pride in our war heroes; tears and patriotism for our Union Jack; respect and care for our elderly; holding open shop doors for ladies; voting for Margaret Thatcher, worse Boris … all these beliefs and values that went into our upbringings of the Boomer years, have frittered into dust, and we are left ashamed we ever felt this way.

In my lesson today, we learned we had robbed the younger generation of the wealth of their country; and are still robbing them because we have lived too long. Now they must struggle to fund the Triple Lock to pay for what many of them call our Benefit Payment, (Government term: State Pension) because we are still hanging around.

These days, I am ashamed I spoke out in a pub against illegal immigrants whom I was told came over in gangs, landing in dinghies on the very beaches Field Marshal Rommel gave up on, when they surely have every right to use our NHS for free; and get free meals too. If not, houses, schools and money, as many of our people use food banks. As penance, I stood in front of the class this morning and asked forgiveness for seeing Michael Caine in Zulu twice.

Then I admitted I laughed along with Alf Garnett on TV and as a boy sang along with the Black and White Minstrel Show with my dad. Mammy was my favourite song. Sinful. Worse, I played cowboys and Indians in my road. I was the Range Rider, guns blazing.

I even shot German soldiers from behind lamp posts, I was Montgomery, of course. Another day I charged down the hill to war and glory as a Hussar for Queen Victoria with my two mates from the Light Brigade. Naturally, like all Baby Boomers I never had it so easy as we did in the Sixties. Getting money was apparently simple, it fell off the proverbial trees and houses cost nothing. Or so I was told on Twitter today. I must have been somewhere else. And of course, going to University, easy, peasy.

But I have seen the light, I realise the young today have every right to dump statues in rivers; daub offices with paint; throw hydrants from rooftops; deface sculptures of Churchill, block ambulances on motorways and throw eggs at our King. We must even stump up cash for the victims of the Empire after our ancestors brought them the industrial revolution and got them out of carts and into cars and trains. Our fault.

Soon, we will be paying compensation for climate change and bringing energy to the world, while toasting our feet and roasting crumpets on coal fires. How wrong we got it all. Those Baby Boomers, eh?

But I am becoming cleansed. Even a new name.


Dollis Hill and Tenerife.


Crazy day an interview with cricket-mad music mogul left me stumped

SPINNING A TALE: David English who has died aged 76


I once interviewed David English, the music mogul and charity benefactor who died on Saturday aged 76, but the details are a little hazy.

It didn’t start well and it got worse. I was offered the interview by a woman PR I knew. I think English had a book coming out and wanted to promote it.

Although we had never met, I knew what he looked like and so I waited for him at a strategic seat near the front door of The Landmark hotel in Marylebone Road, London. He came in the back door.

After a few minutes of phone watching I got a call from the PR: Was I held up? Is the interview going ahead?

“Of course! I’m here, waiting for him, near Reception.”

“Well, he’s waiting for you in the room next door.”

I found him, apologised for the confusion and we repaired to the bar. I don’t know whose idea that was but the flaw in it is plain to see.

Since we were here, would he care for a drink? Wouldn’t he just! English ran a finger down the carte des vins, picked out a rather nice Chardonnay and ordered us a glass each on a tab I didn’t know I had.

The wine arrived in glasses the size of a bucket and each contained a third of a bottle. Still, a long career In Fleet Street had prepared me for such eventualities.

By the time the second bucket arrived – imperceptibly ordered by English – we were getting along famously. I was taking copious notes and even trying out a little shorthand, which I hadn’t used for many years.

More buckets turned up (English was a close friend of Ian Botham, a famous toper, and the penchant for grape juice had rubbed off).

We were talking about his Bunbury Festival, a week-long Under-15 cricket festival, which the cricket-mad English ran for 35 years. In conjunction with that, he also ran the Bunbury’s celebrity charity cricket team, which aside from raising £14million over the years attracted rock stars such as Eric Clapton, Phil Collins and Elton John and brilliant cricketers including Botham and his close friend Viv Richards.

English told me he knew who would be playing cricket for England in five years. “Go on, then,” I challenged.

He reeled off a list of names and I wrote them down in my notebook. More wine arrived, which was fortuitous as by then I needed the bucket to bail out a sinking ship.


A letter to The Sunday Times:You mention U2 in your article on the most annoying bands ever. The (possibly apocryphal) story goes that they were also subject to the greatest heckle ever. Halfway through a Dublin gig, Bono told the audience to hush and then started clicking his fingers. “Every time I click my fingers, somewhere a child dies,” he said softly.

Out of the gloom, a voice shouted out: “Stop fuckin’ doing it, then.”

Simon Miller, Thames Ditton, Surrey



Sir — I can’t wait for my GP to join the doctors’ threatened strike. I’ll join the picket line so I can see him face to face for the first time in ages.


West Byfleet sur Mer


Sir — I've written a piece about the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland declaring its friendship withthe Roman Catholic Church — it's only taken 400 years.

It's based on my experiences as a religion (but not very religious) correspondent.

Lord Beaverbrook, son of a Presbyterian minister who emigrated from Scotland to Canada, took a close interest in the Express's coverage and tried to influence the Kirk when he thought it was deviating from the path of righteousness. The 'Nae Bishops in the Kirk' campaign was his but he approved of friendly relations withthe Catholic Church.

His adviser on Church of Scotland affairs was the Express leader writer George Malcolm Thomson who would come on the phone and announce: "This is the word of the Lord.'

Of course, he didn't mean the Lord above, but THE lord on the top floor…



Sir —You very kindly published a letter from me some weeks ago and though I promise this won’t get a habit I would like to ask if anyone had seen the Prime Minister’s lovely wife Carrie recently.

I am a great admirer and am very disappointed not to have seen her picture in the press, instead we have been inundated with images of two women apparently called Wagatha.

Please do use your extensive resources to find out on my behalf. Has Mrs Johnson gone abroad, into a nunnery or just got camera shy? Or do you have another explanation?


Up the Garden Path


Sir — Following the Dumpster item about the Express Merit Badge, I report that I received mine this morning. I wonder what I’ve got in common with the other recipients.


Pratt’s Bottom


Poor Pratt, whathashis bottom done to deserve this? — Ed


Sir — As “sex” has become one of the most hazardous words in the Woke lexicon, may I suggest that Harry and Meghan Markle style themselves in future as the Duke and Duchess of SUSSIX, thus avoiding the potential of placing many of their admirers in harm’s way?

I am assured by a numerologist that SIX does not pose a threat to sensitive minds.

I hesitate to also suggest that the titles “Duke” and “Duchess” should be combined in the single gender-neutral “Duch”. But on the other hand to be known jointly as “Duch Sussix” would have a catchy appeal among their progressive followers, don’t you think?




Sir —Whatever one thinks of Partygate and the awful thought of staff drinking in the workplace, something those journalists naturally frown on as they gather outside the PM's front door to demonstrate their abhorrence, why do we have to listen to the songbook of Sky Deputy Something, Sam Coates yelling out his repetitive chorus line in the street every day: "When are you going to resign Prime Minister?"

What is it he doesn't understand about Johnson's daily quote: "I am not going to resign"?

This Partygate pantomime goes on with a snarling Laura Kuenssberg starring as the front gender for a Netflix-style TV movie, complete with actors, playing the roles of naughty Downing Street staff sitting on each other's laps, gulping gallons of booze and laughing at the suffering British public. Good, solid unbiased in-depth coverage, eh?

Newspapers, TV and journalists were never like this when I was a lad. Booze? Well that's another thing.


Tenerife via Dollis Hill. 


Sir — As a long-retired pedant once gainfully employed by The World’s Greatest, I found myself annoyed by BBC News and even The Times telling us that West Ham footballer Monte (subs, please check) Zouma was guilty of drop-kicking his “pet cat”. Anyone out there own a “working cat” that maybe pops out to buy your milk and cream and munches through a few annoying sparrows?




Sir — I was particularly interested in your letter from Mrs Trellis-Shanks, of Up The Garden Path on the subject of anonymous sources, as I tend to believe everything they say in newspapers, and why not?

But my confidence has been shaken recently by reading a quip from a certain Mr Kelvin MacKenzie, (I don't think the name is made up), that when Mr Derek Jameson, an editor of a newspaper called the Daily Star, apparently an in-depth digest of world coverage, was short of a P1 lead in his career, he had the perfect solution.

He told Mr MacKenzie that he would tell a reporter to use a dirty iron on a white tea cloth and then run the photo under the headline: Is this the face of Jesus?

Of course, I immediately tried it and burned a hole in three of them. But the fourth worked. I will never look at newspapers the same way again — or tea cloths.


Everlasting Teacloths Ltd.


Sir — I was interested to read in the Drone that there had been a controversial erection in somewhere called Grantham. I used to have those but I can’t remember when.



WHO’S ...

Sir — Who, pray, is Angela Rayner?


Los Angeles


Sir — Who, pray, is Sharon Stone?


Icepick Cottage


Do you expect ME to know? — Ed


Sir — Not being acquainted with the newspaper world, though I do like the Monmouthshire Beacon and Forest of Dean Gazette, would you please explain to me this business of anonymous sources?

If a reporter can write a story without having to name the source, what is to stop them making it all up on a quiet day like we did at school during the old king’s reign (God rest his soul)?

Asking on behalf of a friend.


Up the garden path

It is a truth universally acknowledged that when a reporter quotes an unnamedsource it is invariably made up. It is lazy journalism but it does fill a space — Ed


Sir — I note you’ve taken to running pieces in the Drone by people with the most preposterous, made-up bylines such as Robin McGibbon, Terry Manners and (yes, I get it!) Alan Frame.

If they’re doing it to protect their modesty, they would do well to remember what Churchill said about Attlee.


American Bar

Flying Fuck


Apropos the twit who’s clearly suffering a bout of insecurity, writing for The Drone has nothing to do with a lack of modesty; it’s simply a way of supporting a jolly decent guy, who invests his time — and a fair amount of money — producing a vibrant, highly informative and amusing website that never ceases to entertain. I doff my Chelsea baseball cap to him.

STUMPY (not made up!),


The cheque’s in the post, Stumpy — Ed


Dear Jolly Decent Guy Who Invests His Time And A Fair Mount Of Money — Producing A Vibrant, Highly Informative And Amusing Website That Never Ceases To Entertain.

Gissa Job!


Stumps Cross



Sir —Predictably, there is much hand wringing over the decision to relocate male illegal migrants to Rwanda. The Beeb’s Mark Easton piles on the agony by pointing outthat, sob, they will be landing in a country they’ve never visited before. Bit like the UK then.




Sir — Forget Boris’s crazy Rwanda plan! Let’s concentrate, instead, on the bold, incisive strategy to solve Britain’s migrant problem laid out with forensic rigour by Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP.



I must have missed that — Ed

A year or two ago, I came across that notebook in my desk drawer and opened it to see how many of those names had made it to the dressing rooms of Lord’s or the Oval. I couldn’t decipher a word. Even the spider that crawled across the page was pissed.

But it is a matter of record that 10 of the 11 England cricketers who won the World Cup in 2019 had played in the Bunbury Festival.

English was a force of nature. He started out as a showbiz reporter for the Daily Mail and became a press officer for Decca Records where clients included the Rolling Stones and Tom Jones. When Robert Stigwood founded RSO Records he personally appointed English as company president.

He became close friends with the Bee Gees, especially Barry Gibb, and with Clapton. He claims to have been present when Clapton wrote his hit Wonderful Tonight as Clapton’s wife Pattie Boyd got ready upstairs for a night out.

I only knew English for one afternoon and had to write up my interview more or less from memory. The hotel tab was so big I couldn’t put it all in as expenses and had to take some of the hit myself. But it was worth it.



Expressman’s heroic hack through darkest Africa failed to encounter Lucan


William Dumpster’s piece about Garth Gibbs and the ever-elusive (and almost certainly late) Lord Lucan reminded me of avaliant effort to track him down by the Express's very own Peter Hardy.

I can't recall the actual genesis of the whole thing, but the upshot was that Hardy had used his immense powers of charm and persuasion on the news and foreign desks to convince them that there had been positive sightings of Lucan, pictured, in east Africa and that he should be despatched post-haste toseek out the missing nobleman.

Thus, he set out on a latter-day expedition armed with a panchromatic artiste — who might have been the late 

H Dempster, though I'm not certain —into, well, not quite hacking their way through dense jungle, rather a tour of some of the most luxurious "oases" in that part of the world.

After some three weeks of this arduous (!?) trek, Hardy returned to these shores empty-handed, having seen neither hide nor hair of the errant lord.

The result of all this activity was not a story for the foreign pages outlining his determined efforts to chase leads and pinpoint sightings. Instead, he produced a six-page memooutlining in copious detail his excursions around the area and how he had managed, in concert with the late Garth Gibbs, not to encounter Lord Lucan.



Disgraceful honours system needs to be mended or scrapped


Isn’t the honours system a disgrace? Rewards for time serving civil servants, loyal editors of Tory supporting newspapers, failed MPs, so-called ‘TV personalities’ and at the top end ancient baubles for royals and their courtiers. And of course political party donors by the sleazy bucket load.

But surely its nadir has arrived with the news that Boris Johnson has nominated two former aides for life peerages, both young enough to spend their time in the Lords in the parliamentary crèche. One, Ross Kempsell, is 30 and the other, Charlotte Owen, is still in her 20s and just seven years out of university. Kempsell is a former political director of the Tory Party which might well explain why they are in such a pitiful state. Owen was an assistant to Johnson, God help her. And Labour is not exempt from criticism with its recommendation that Tom Watson, Littlejohn’s ‘Noncefinder General’, be elevated to the red benches.

Contrast this with people who have spent their lives working for the benefit of others less fortunate. I have in mind a very good friend who founded a charity for street kids in Africa shortly after leaving Oxford. He did this for no other reason than as a reaction to what he saw on his gap year travelling that continent. That charity, Street Child, of which am proud to be a former trustee, now works in 19 countries in Africa and South Asia and most recently Ukraine. From tiny beginnings in Sierra Leone it has helped almost 900,00 terribly disadvantaged children and is responsible for setting up more than 600 schools.

The founder is Tom Dannatt whose father Richard, the former Chief of the General Staff, is in the Lords as a cross bencher not because he was a party donor or Downing Street sycophant, but because of his service and indefatigable work across the charity sector. Tom has neither asked for nor been given an honour, that’s not why he is doing the brilliant work transforming lives.

There are many like Tom but I single him out as an illustration of how broken the system is. It should — must — be mended or scrapped because right now it is totally discredited with kids like Kempsell and Owen nominated by a man best known for his lying and scrounging. He was the prime minister who recommended that prize shit Gavin Williamson (Francis Urquhart without the brains or vocabulary) for a knighthood. I have no doubt that one day soon it will be Baron Williamson and Baroness Braverman.But certainly not Lord Frame.

I rest my case.


How to land a great royal scoop despite a complete lack of ratlike cunning


As a 23-year old on the Daily Mail I was sent to Paris in 1970 to cover the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, a horse race with old nags on one side of the rail and rich old bags on the other. I knew nothing about racing but was the only reporter they could dredge up who spoke French.

No sooner had I got to the hotel than a message came through that Prince Charles was secretly in town — go and find him, what's he doing? Has he got a secret mistress? Poor old Wingnut, barely 22, fresh out of university, knew less about sins of the flesh than I did about horseflesh.

As the day wore on the temperature of the calls from the desk rose alarmingly — have you found him? Who's the girl? Come on, lad!! Copy!!!

I hardly knew where to start, having been to Paris only once before and, let's be frank, almost completely lacking the ratlike cunning that generally comes with the rations. Where to even start?

Long story short, I bet my shirt on a single telephone call - to John Utter, languid private secretrary to the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. "I just wanted ask how the meeting between Prince Charles and the Duke went," I blagged, heart in mouth, making it up as I went along. "What a momentous event in history, two Princes of Wales meeting eye to eye!"

There was a long pause on the other end of the line. Then Utter drawled, "Why don't you come round for a drink?" and within an hour I had a page one exclusive for the Mail next day. The alternative, I feel certain (the rapacious Charlie Wilson was news editor at the time) would have been the sack.

But from that day grew my interest in a house called Windsor which has kept me in Tunnocks teacakes ever since. And, you might say, inspired publication in Paris this week of my book on the Dook and Dookess and their dangerous entanglement with poodlefaking playboy Jimmy Donahue.

Sometimes, you get lucky as **** in this game. Often as not, you don’t.



Losing football fans to get hot drinks and sympathy

By NAN E RIPLEY-SHANKS,Our Twitter Monitor

The NHS is to establish a "Comfort Corps" of health care professionals who will be stationed at football matches to offer solace and assistance to fans of the losing team — especially those who are “lonely and vulnerable” at away games.

Under controversial plans seen by the Guardian, the teams will be test-tracked at potentially explosive “grudge” games this winter — before being deployed nationwide.

The plans call for First Responders to disperse through the losers' stands with smelling salts, flasks of warm tea and uplifting tracts to deal with distraught and disappointed supporters, as soon as the ref’s final whistle sounds. They have been specially trained in the non-intrusive use of comforting hugs, hand-holding and back-patting.

Safe Spaces in converted changing rooms will also be made available in key Premier League stadiums, where sobbing fans can find peace and closure in the care of sensitivity counsellors before getting on the coach home.

The drive is expected to net millions from constrained NHS budgets for Mindfulness Consultants, but a top NHS executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "For too long we have been neglecting the frustration and hurt suffered by football supporters, their hopes devastated weekly, usually by stupid dickheads throwing away a match.

“They are the forgotten legions of our mental health crisis and need to know the NHS is there for them in their hour of need.”

Commenting on the plans, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said yesterday: “This is typical Tories playing catch up. Labour have been saying for years (Contd p94)

Er, Nan luv, are you sure this is true — Ed


A crowded Daily Express newsroom in the 1980s with a languid Sir Larry

We promised you another pic from the collection of former Daily Express night foreign editor David Eliades. We have done better than that and found 13.

This pic is taken in the DX newsroom where staff are listening to an address, or possibly a leaving presentation. We have managed toidentify many people. Can you do better?


The O’Neill-Hartson reminiscence prompts the former Nottingham Forest star to recall playing under the legendary Brian Clough. Martin witnessed England forward Tony Woodward turning up for training sporting some unsightly chin stubble.

‘What’s that?’ says Clough.

‘I’m growing a beard.’


‘I want to be different.’

‘OK, be different — score a fracking* hat trick!’

*Complying with the Drone Code on vulgar Anglo Saxonisms


Thanks to our pal Martin O’Neill for a delicious anecdote from his days as manager of Celtic when one of his charges was the often ponderous striker John Hartson.

Angry and frustrated by the lethargic Welsh star’s lack of activity, he called him over to the touchline. ‘Warm up, John. You’re coming off.’


Who’d be a footie forecaster? The Independent in 2013 foolishly thought it would be a good idea to predict the England starting 11 at the World Cup in Qatar.

Here is its in 4-4-2 formation:

Jack Butland;

Luke Shaw, Nathanial Chatobah, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling;

Wilfried Zaha, Jack Wilshere, Ross Barkley, Jordan Ibe;

Chuba Akpom, Daniel Sturridge.

Still, one out of 11 isn’t bad.


Garrulous footie pundit Graeme Souness eloquently emphasises what a one-man irony-free zone he is by dismissing a current manager, whom we won’t name, thus: ‘I think it’s a risk bringing someone with his CV, seven jobs in nine years.’ Can this be the same Graeme Souness who managed six clubs in nine years in the nineties?’ Sure darn tootin’!


A worrying increase in violence at games has led some to fear a return to the bad old days of football hooliganism.

My aged retainer, confined to a rancid lair under the main stand, suggests employing the Brian Clough strategy.

On one famous occasion the iconic Nottingham Forest manager punched four of his own fans who invaded the pitch after a victorious League Cup quarter final match in 1989.

Next day two of them turned up at the ground to say sorry. Cloughie said he would only accept their apology if they kissed him on the cheek … which they did.




Sir So sad to read about the death of dear old Charlie Catchpole, a wonderful wit and great company.

As well as the good times with him, I remember some not so good. When I was Night Editor of the Sunday Express back in the turbulent 80s for Sir John Junor, Charlie sat behind the Backbench on the news desk on Saturdays, and we would often exchange banter and pop down to the Poppinjay for a swift one.

These were the days of the Wapping newspaper revolution that many of us will never forget. It was the most vicious industrial dispute since the days of the Great Depression and hate ruled. Murdoch’s new tech dawn sparked a strike that put the print workers on the streets. Feelings ran high.

Charlie worked at Wapping of course and was a target. One quite menacing messenger who sat close by, was consumed with fury and Charlie was in his sights. Words were exchanged, and for some weeks, Charlie was subjected to deathly glares and worse. He felt he couldn't carry on. It got so bad that he wouldleave the building by the back door or was followed by security.

In the end the management got involved. But not before Charlie stopped coming in for a while. They were tough times … and it was a difficult situation. But Charlie finally soldiered on and continued to be the star he was.



Sir — I fear some of my chums misheard me on a Skype call last night, causing a frisson of incredulity.

I said I was relocating at the end of the month to “the UK” — not “the Ukraine”!

I will be in Devon, not Donbas, come May Day.


Cape Town (for now)

Welcome home, Rick — Ed


Sir — I see that Apple has just made life a little easier for us bank robbers (when I gets out!)

Its latest iPhone update, iOS 15.4, ‘adds the ability to unlock Face ID while wearing a mask.’


S Wing

HMP Walton-on-Thames


Sir - You’ve got to hand it to Labour spin doctors for always coming up with les mots justes to discomfit the Tories.

Almost every Opposition mouthpiece has now taken to dismissing any Government initiative as ‘too little, too late.’

Wish I’d thought of that.




Sir — My wife Quarantine and I have trialled a gas-saving project in our road. Beware the dangers! Two neighbours joined WarmStop, in which one household turns off all their radiators between 5pm and 10pm then stays next door. One couple were Seventh Day Adventists and wouldn’t shut up about God, the others were pervs who invited us to watch porn and walk around with nothing on as heat raged from their boiler. You have been warned!

Mr and Mrs MAURICE 




Sir —I see that Prince Andrew, Duke of York, previously known as HRH, once again proves that an expensive education (Gordonstoun £44,000 and ever rising) can never make a thick sod intelligent. In his quickly deleted Instagram posts he talks of returning from Mrs Thatcher’s Falklands war ‘a changed man.’ He says: ‘I put away childish things and false bravado… returned a man full in the knowledge of human frailty and suffering.’

By childish things was he including underage girls? And by human frailty did he mean his paedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein or his own which has been on full view for decades? 

His grasp of grammar is as bad as his morals, referring to ‘family’s torn about by the horrors they have witnessed.’ He talks of being brought ‘to a full weep’ by the suffering in Ukraine. A full weep? What does that mean? My guess is that it is straight out of the Fergie psychobabble text book. At one point he says ‘I am afraid to say’ when he means ‘sorry to say.’ What a chump.

All this at a time when some kind soul mysteriously deposited £1.1 million into his bank account and he muscles in on the memorial service for his father.

As that splendid broadcaster Eddie Mair told Boris Johnson: ‘You’re a nasty piece of work aren’t you?’ At least Boris isn’t thick, stupid maybe, but not thick. 


of Windsor Great Park


Sir — So glad to hear Kelvin has a Lexus. I could have bought one off the proceeds of the massive royal exclusive he stole from me when editing The Sun, the bastard.

And after I got his mother Mary a job as PR for Hampshire CC when she was out of work, too.



I went to the shop to get some deodorant.

The shopkeeper asked "Ball or aerosol?"

I said "No, for my armpit."


Condoms should be used on every conceivable occasion.


The much loved Lou Yaffa, former chief sub of the News of the World has died.

Lou, a Geordie who was described by a colleague as a great man, also worked on the Daily Herald and the Daily Mirror.

Towards the end of his career, Lou was a valued casual sub on the Daily Express in Blackfriars. He was also an NUJ activist.

That’s all we know at the moment but we do have a great anecdote about Lou which can be read HERE


Are you sweating while putting petrol in your car and feeling sick when you pay for it?

You are suffering from carownervirus.

Get this appalling joke off my website now — Ed.

Sod off, Ed — The Subs.



Sir — My neighbour is never short of an insult. She calls vegetarians “herbi-bores”, which is clever. She also refers to a prominent member of our gay community as “Rear Admiral”. Naughty, but I get that too.

Today she said Vladimir Putin is “the World’s Number One Front Bottom”. I think I know what she means, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.


Via email


Iwas really annoyed the otherday when the staff at the Odeoncinema said that they wouldn't accepta £50 note when I was paying for mypick 'n' mix. In the end I had to paywith two twenties and a ten.




Sir — I see that the late Madeleine Albright, first female U.S. Secretary of State, used to live in the bijou town of Walton-on-Thames, so posh that it is said that the staff have staff.

Apart from Ms Albright, President Herbert Hoover, Admiral George Rodney, Dame Julie Andrews, singer Nick Lowe and, maybe, Julius Caesar, do readers know of anyone famous who has lived there?


West Byfleet sur Mer

I can’t think of anyone, unless you know better, Mr Hickey-Shanks. I will ask my staff. But I can confirm it is very pleasant this time of year — Ed


Sir — Another example of the lack of a revise system on the Mail: a Page 3 picture do-up on actress Anya Taylor-Joy mentions she starred in the Netflix mini-series The Queen’s Gambit two years ago but fails to note she has rather a prominent role in Peaky Blinders, currently dominating the BBC drama output on Sunday nights.


Back Bar

Flying Fuck



Sir — Watching the Italy-Scotland rugger international, I note that, according to their shirts, all the Scottish players were called Peter Vardy. That’s most unusual. Has any other reader pointed it out?



Goodness knows, maybe they are all brothers.Similarly, why are all rugby balls called Gilbert? — Ed


Sir — I see you have introduced an Haut Definition, turbo-charged, all-singing, all-dancing, gold-embossed, bevel-edged, appliqué-enhanced, cantilever-action, mahogany-inlaid weather forecast, in glorious Technicolor and VistaVision, for … London.

Trouble is: I don’t live in fucking London.


Gittins-on-the Wold

As the caption advises, if you click on the graphic you get more details including the ability to choose your location — Ed


Sir — When I were a lad we called it the Ukraine. What ever became of the 'the'?


Petts Wood

We used to say the Lebanon too, those were the days! — Ed


Sir — These ‘soaring’ petrol prices don’t worry me: I’ll continue putting in twenty quid as usual.





Sir — Sometimes it’s the little things, an elegant turn of phrase, which draw one to subscribe to a particular newspaper. Two examples from wordsmiths at The Times:

Hugo Rifkind on the complexities of the Peaky Blinders plot: ‘I've no idea where all this is going, and once it has gone there I daresay there's a decent chance I'll have no idea where it just went.’

An obit touching on the marital shenanigans of Shane Warne: ‘Not one to be restrained by the small print of a nuptial contract, he exhausted his wife's powers of forgiveness. They divorced in 2005.’


Chief Sub


Sir —Since moving from newspapers to the world of social media, like so many other semi-retired hacks out grazing in the wetlands of Blighty, I have noticed a new breed of reader in various news fields … The Deniers.

On Twitter, this herd denies everything from the Holocaust and Covid to Armstrong landing on the Moon and any Brexit success, along with the fact that no one reads the Express because it is fascist.

Even news events unfolding before our very eyes from British snappers in the Ukraine. Mostly no bylines from Tweeters of course, just a picture of a frog or skull. 

One anonymous Armchair General this week, claimed the 40-kilometre-long column of Russian tanks heading for Kiev, was fake because the trees were green, and we were in wintertime. In fact, the invading tanks were moving through a UkrainIan, evergreen pine and conifer forest.


Dollis Hill, 

Neasden patriot. 


Sir — Much admired Alan Frame’s emotional and affectionate piece on Ukraine. Look out, you Shankses, there’s a new kid (eh? Ed) on the block!


(Ex Drone trainee)

Pressdram Ltd


Sir — Isn’t it about time the Daily Drone got up to date and started using Preferred Gender Pronouns? I am sure we would all welcome the choice of He/Him, She/Her or They/Them. There may even be a case for extending this to the use of Neopronouns such as Xe, Ze, Ve, Tey and Hir.

What think you, Mr Ed?


Her (indoors)

West Byfleet

Ze are being silly now. As for our readers, I am sure hir wouldnt welcome it — Ed


Sir — Have you noticed how snappers at The Times have become increasingly self regarding of late? They have taken to publishing up-your-bum albums of their ‘work’ on the paper’s website.

Each run-of-the-mill, often grainy, snap is accompanied by technical bollocks such as: Equipment used: Canon EOS-1DX Mark ll using 16-35mm zoom lens (set at 16mm) 1/1,250th sec, f7.1, ISO 500

Yet the Drone recently published a pin-sharp picture of Express geriatrics which showed every line and blemish on their crumbling faces taken on an ordinary 

over-the-counter iPhone 12 15.3.1 MGJ53B/A F17FWBXD¥F§N


Chief Photographer

In these days of national mourning it is comforting to know that there is a Twitter feed Mascots Minute Silence (@MascotSilence) where football club mascots are shown paying silent tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.


The late Queen’s pronouncements on football are rare but she did confide: ‘Michel Owen’s my favourite player: he’s so clean.’


Sacked Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel always reminded me of an irascible Jack Russell terrier on the touchline.

His ‘handshake’ clash with Spurs gaffer Antonio Conte is TV gold and this week players have revealed that they hated being on the same side of the pitch as the Chelsea dugout because of his incessant ‘barking, moaning and groaning’. One star says that Tuchel didn’t initiate a conversation with him in more than a year.


They breathed a sigh of relief at Man U when they finally got rid of Paul Pogba on a free transfer this summer even though that was £89million less than they paid for him six years ago. Pogba has always had the reputation for being, how shall I say, difficult. Currently, he is under investigation by the Paris police for hiring a witch doctor to put a curse on fellow France superstar, the PSG forward Kylian Mbappe. 

I say, Ed, should we bung in an ‘allegedly’ somewhere? — Cocklecarrot. No Cocky, we are here to rattle a few cages — Ed


Which league manager with a broad Irish accent unconsciously enlivens his post match press conferences by regularly praising his team for ‘pressing hard in the final turd’?


Thank fuck the tedious transfer window is shut. One of the worst aspects of the posturing of overpaid prima donnas is when they go all sulky as they try to force a transfer to a new club.

Mikhail Antonio, West Ham’s star striker (there’s not much competition), recalls one player so desperate for a move he started to show off during training.

One morning he turned up early, collected every football in the training ground and took them home. Training cancelled. Says Antonio: ‘I’ve seen another player in training who, when the ball comes to him, boots it away. Every single time. And if you don’t pass to him he’s running after the ball to kick it away.’


Everton’s Frank Lampard may be the only Premier League gaffer to have a GCSE in Latin but, generally, footie chaps are dim bulbs. Take American striker Daryl Dike who relocated from Florida to West Brom last season. The 22-year-old has been assiduously doing his own laundry but has been blaming his washing machine for poor quality outcomes.

Apparently, when he tried to replace his washing powder after it run out he realised that for eight months he had been using dishwasher detergent. Just goes to show it’s not how you start but how you Finish.


Footie bad boy Diego Costa is on the move again. Fans of his new Spanish club, the unfashionable Rayo Vallecano, must be hoping that the former Chelsea striker starts behaving himself at last.

The beleaguered residents of the sleepy town of Albacete where he spent some time on loan still shudder when they recall the outrageous parties he used to throw. His canallada del dia was to project hard core porn on a giant highly visible screen with the sound turned up to the max.


Man United better be careful what they wish for as they try to lure ‘difficult’ French midfielder Adrien Rabiot from Juventus. Not only does he have a bad reputation but you should meet his mother and (over the top) agent, Veronique.

Madame Benoit is notorious for speaking her mind regardless of whom she upsets.

She once told superstar Kylian Mbappe’s father his son was a disgrace for missing a penalty and she had to be pulled away by stewards after a 20-minute tirade against Paul Pogba’s family when she blamed him for the opposition scoring an equaliser in an international match.

Old Trafford fans may be pleased to know that the deal may still fall through: the maman from hell is demanding that her boy is paid more than the £6million a year he gets in Italy.


No nonsense, uber combative new Sunderland manager Roy Keane knew he had a job on his hands even before his first match in charge. The final song played on the dressing room sound system before his gladiators trooped out on to the pitch was ABBA’s Dancing Queen. Recalls Keane: ‘Testosterone levels were high. They were going out to play a match, men versus men. You’ve got to hit people at pace. Fuckin’ Dancing Queen. It worried me.’


Squeaky bums in the East End over the arrival of West Ham’s new striker, the 6ft 5ins, flamboyantly tattooed Italian, Gianluca Scamacca. He looks nice enough, although the jury’s still out.

No such doubt about his family, though. They’re definitely scary. Last year his father, also Gianluca, smashed his way into Roma’s training ground in his car, intimidated a club director then vandalised several cars, ruined a statue of a wolf and, as you do, destroyed a bonsai tree. There’s more: grandad Scamacca, visibly over-refreshed, recently blundered into a bar and held a knife to a customer’s throat.

Cristo Santo!


Cheerio Suella de Vil, you will be sacked before the week's out


My diamond encrusted Lulu Lytle Edition iPhone (a gift from that nice Lord Bamford) trills into action to alert me to a WhatsUp group call. It’s from civil servants and advisors asking me for urgent assistance in removing Suella de Vil as Home Secretary. Why me?

Well on October 15 I wrote on Lord Drone’s distinguished organ that the then ‘prime minister’ would be out within a fortnight. It turned out I was far too cautious, Liz Gump resigned six days later on October 21. So could I put my Mystic Meg powers to the Suella problem? A pleasure.

First the case for the prosecution: de Vil had already been fired by Gump for twice flouting the ministerial code by leaking details of government policy on immigration to a backbench Tory MP, not authorised to receive it. When, in an effort to prove to his party that he was unifying all wings, Sunak brought her back after less than a week out of government, how did she show her gratitude?

She repaid the PM by breaking the law by refusing to release asylum detainees from the Manston centre near Ramsgate. Home Office lawyers had made it clear that she had to act immediately but instead of following their advice she went for a second opinion, itself breaking the ministerial code.

This weekend we have the news that diphtheria and scabies have broken out at Manston where almost twice the capacity of would-be migrants are housed. They have been there for up to four weeks instead of the maximum of 24 hours. It is an appalling mess which must surely be laid at the door of the right-wing ideologue de Vil, herself the daughter of immigrants of Indian origin.

Now the case for the defence: Er, there is none. In fact it’s worse than that; Michael Gove appeared on the Kuenssberg programme defending her.

Verdict: She will be out within a fortnight, though once again I’m probably being overly cautious. Make that a week.

🔴By the way, we also learn that Ms Gump’s phone has been hacked, probably by the Kremlin. What secrets could Putin’s spooks have been after? Nothing delicately personal I hope (not).

I would remind readers that the Drone’s famous slogan is‘We may not be first with the news but we’re always wrong’. Furthermore, this article is deliberately undated — Ed




The end of an era: Martin Clarke, the mastermind behind MailOnline, left the Mail's office for the last time, with an unexpectedly tearful leaving speech.


VETERAN reporter TOM BROWN, pictured, has written an excellent piece in the Daily Record which has proved popular with readers.

Tom told the Drone: "I’m amazed by the response — a couple of hundred messages in emails, Facebook, etc. 

It shows the Queen and I are now history, but at least it proves I'm not ga-ga (yet).

"The intro wrote itself — 'The Queen and I started our jobs on the same day in February 1952.' So I wrote this piece, not about the big stories but about how our lives have changed. It's now official — I'm history.

“The story has gone online — not in the newspaper — a sign of the times. Beware, there are several pictures of me."

We suggest reading Tom’s piece (link below) wearing a blindfold to avoid seeing pictures of him — Ed


Former editorial assistant STEVE MILL reports:

I took a nostalgic trip to the Street of Shame shortly before Christmas to remember an old friend. Unfortunately it was rather a depressing experience.

Stopped at The Old Bell for a pint, I think I was the sixth customer, couldn't help recalling the mayhem that ensued during the festive season. I could tell it was the season of goodwill back then when I saw a news reporter heave a typewriter at a colleague!

Speaking of 'attitude adjusters', how many times did I hear Peter Tory invite Ross Benson to join him for a morning 'sharpener' in The Poppinjay?

At the other end of the spectrum, an heroically over-refreshed Ross Tayne ordered off the stone, I know it happened because he came into the pub to tell us! His finest hour?

I remember Norman Cox…Andrew Edwards strolls into the Hickey office and greets Norman with the following:‘Hello you bearded fart!'



Heather McGlone, editor of the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine, will retire this week shortly before her 65th birthday.

She will be replaced after her 19-year stint by Andrew Davies, who is currently assistant editor at the Mail on Sunday.

Lord Dronewrites: I remember Heather from the Daily Express where her presence was always very much in evidence. After one of her many jousts with editor Nick Lloyd she stuck a Post-It note on hiscomputer reading: I RESIGN.

Nick refused to accept her resignation and Heather carried on until she was finally fired by Richard Addis.

A reader adds: Heather often received a bad press at the Express (viz constant references to her ‘links’ to the east end of the District Line) but she was an assiduous, hard-working journalist who deserved to infiltrate the men only top table.

Those who highlight her ‘eccentricities’ tend to overlook that she was not only doing a good job in Blackfriars Road but successfully bringing up two daughters.

Her subsequent success editing the Mail’s go-to Saturday TV magazine, which made other telly mags superfluous, says all there is to say.

Happy retirement, H!

Another correspondent writes: I recall that the features editor spent what spare time she had left over from berating her team in sobbing in the loo. A secretary at one stage was obliged to pass a note under the door begging her to come out as Nick Lloyd wished to see her.

Yet another reader recalls:

After she flounced out of the Express her long suffering husband Louis Kirby, calling in favours from his time as deputy editor of the Daily Mail, asked Paul Dacre to give her a job, though warning, according to Kirby’s own account, ‘just don’t let her near any human beings’.

Dacre gave her a junior job on Femail but soon promoted her to the Weekend editorship, telling his execs, ‘Ive found someone even nastier than me!’

At Weekend her rages were legendary.

She once had to send her secretary to Marks and Spencer during her lunch break to buy her some new underwear, explaining ‘I shouted at someone so hard I wet myself’.

And after deciding the £50,000 differential between her salary and that of one of her senior staff was not enough, she went to management and, rather than demand they gave her a raise, insisted they cut his pay instead, which they did, albeit reluctantly, by £25,000!

Simon Hedger,who 'toiled under Heather McGlone’s leadership when she was Features Editor on the Daily Express', writes:

I agree that she was (and probably still is) a very hard-working and talented journalist who forced her way to the top in what was then a predominately male world, but on Express Features she was also demanding, unpredictable and, as A Reader says, at times somewhat eccentric.

On one occasion after some real or imaginary slight she ordered all her backbench (male) colleagues to “just shoo, go away” and they all trooped off sheepishly like naughty schoolboys for 10 minutes or so before creeping back to their work stations.

While much of the above is true, Heather was not a complete villain and some people speak of her kindness — Ed


Michael Buerk on watching Philippa Forrester cuddle up to a male astronomer for warmth during BBC1's UK eclipse coverage remarked: 'They seem cold out there. They're rubbing each other and he's only come in his shorts.’

Flashback to the good old days when working on a newspaper was fun

Who are these chaps oozing with eastern menace? And why have they taken Pat the copytaker hostage? We do not know who most of them are but we can identify one, Mailman Alan Ashworth, centre in the white shirt, who explains what’s going on in the latest edition of his blog.



An anagram of‘omicron' is ‘moronic’. Not a lot of people know that.

They do now — Ed


Tyro touch-typist in love, Punch, c1950.

Oh my darlung I adore yoi

Sweet-one wull yoi be my wufe?

Do not spirn me I umplore yoi.

Be the spurut of my lufe.

We wull never, never be bored,

Darlung, uff yoi'll be my bride.

For even on unfeelung keyboard

U and I are side by side.


Times Diary, Oct 26

In talk about the press at Cliveden Literary Festival, Conrad Black mentioned Victor Matthews, his opposite number at Daily Express, who was “a nice man", but at the bottom of his own domestic pecking order.

He had a rather domineering wife,” Black said, “however, the wife was herself intimidated by the family parrot.

He recalled one call with the polite Matthews who was hectored by his wife Joyce: “Don’t put up with it, Victor!”

She would not fall silent for Matthews, but went schtum when the parrot squawked : “Sack the lot! Sack the lot!”


Everyone loves a reunion but unfortunately the number of reuniters tends to get less each time, writes CHRIS GILL.

This motley crew, including several who relocated to Fleet Street in the late 80s, were members of the Daily Express sports desk in Manchester.

Having a few sherbets back on home territory this week after a covid enforced break were, from left, Frank Malley, Colin Garrity, Drew Mackenzie, Geoff Critchley, Bob McKenzie, Cammie Stewart, Chris Gill, Andy Elliott. Andy Collomosse and David Mankelow.



We supply the caption, you give us the picture!

Winner gets the traditional crisp fiver attached to a rubber band


Members of Chew Magna Morris Maids, the controversial female version of the traditional morris men, wield pigs’ bladders and handkerchiefs as they practise their choreography for their inaugural display at the Badgegate Arms, Nether Widdeard



You can no longer buy a newspaper in Fleet Street, the closest place being Tesco Express on The Strand, according to honorary Expressman James Dismore.



Sir Evidently Richard Dismore spread his talents for mummery beyond mere theatrical posters in Joe Allen’s.

Alas, this fetching new design for a Co-Op milkman’s uniform he modelled in 1972 never really caught on, and Dismore was obliged to pursue a less reputable career.

Experts meanwhile have discounted a rival claim that the milkman in question is actually Chris Williams, also formerly of this parish, in happier times.




Sir — Lunching at Joe Allen, I couldn’t help but notice this theatrical poster featuring former Express executive Richard Dismore in his early days as a putative mummer.

A fine figure of a man to be sure.


Callan Close


Are you sure it’s not Jason King or Peter Wyngarde? — Ed


Superstar Erling Haaland celebrates missing an open goal against Man United as his self-imposed ‘striker strike’ continues. The Man City No9 has agreed not to score again this year ‘to allow other centre forwards to catch up’.


Er, Bings, is this right? — Drone. Subs pse check — Ed. 

Looks OK to us — Subs


Tory Chancellor of the Week Michael Fabricant smooths back his lustrous blond locks as he reveals new measures to bring stability to the economy. He tells a press conference this will mean reversing all the fiscal initiatives introduced by last week’s Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt.


This is getting bloody stupid, are you all drunk? — Drone. Yesh — Ed


Liz Truss, with shopping trolley, chats to an assistant at Waitrose, North Hykeham, as she does the weekly shop. Fish counter ‘partner’ Sally Sunak said: ‘She was very relaxed considering all she’s been through and just wanted to know if the Craster kippers were salty.’


Today’s winner is Mrs Enid Thrust of Pratt’s Bottom who found this delightful study in a skip. Mrs T gets the use of the Drone office’s crisp fiver for two hours.

Er, can we have it back now Mrs Thrust? — Ed


Archbishop Justin Welby blesses delegates at Lambeth Palace at the opening of an All Inclusive Think-in on the Channel migrant crisis. Members of the Anglican and Roman Catholic communities plus Labour, Lib Dem and SNP representatives have vowed to sit until a solution is found



TV personality Carol Vorderman waves as she prepares to enter the convent of Our Lady of Badgegate as a novitiate. The new Sister Immaculata pauses to adjust her wimple and explain that she is leaving the world of Instagram and TikTok for a more private, contemplative and ruminative life


Mrs Thrust retains use of the crisp fiver for another 2hours


Strictly Come Dancing presenter Claudia Winkleman, 50, shows off the new, short Choppy Bob hairstyle which has replaced her shoulder-length raven tresses and iconic fringe and explains: My mum advised that, at my age, long hair makes you look like mutton dressed as lamb


(Wig andeyebrows £2.99 from Man at Argos)


Coquettish deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner shows off her new look maxi skirt in the Central Lobby of the Commons. The flame-haired temptress reveals she has ditched her customary mini skirts because ‘it’s a bit nippy for bum freezers on the Opposition side of the House. I can’t wait to sit on the Government front bench where it’s warmer.’



Former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell waves to admirers as he checks into Potkettle Private Hospital for an urgent irony implant. The author of the infamous Iraq Dodgy Dossier says: ‘I realised I needed help when I heard myself calling Boris Johnson a lying cheat on live TV.’


Former game show babe Meghan Markle and her leading man show off their costumes as they prepare to star in The Taming of the Shrew at the Alhambra, Montecito. After consulting her lawyers, Ms Markel said: ‘Actually, I’m quite familiar with the works of Tennessee Shakespeare but, Harry hasn’t a fracking* clue to be honest.’

* Authorised version


How blind devotion to Tories makes the Express look stupid

(But at least it got Nick Lloyd a knighthood)




Paul Dacre, once the erratically beating heart of the Daily Mail, made many enemies among the Establishment during his 26 years as the paper’s Editor.

Remember his “Enemies of the People” front page, in which he lambasted the High Court judges who ruled that Parliament would have to vote on Brexit despite the decisive referendum verdict of the British people?

It triggered huge scandal and prompted Conservative MP Sir Nicholas Soames to tweet at the time: “It’s impossible to overestimate Dacre’s poison at The Mail no man can be called a ‘great’ editor who permits the headline that the judges are the ‘Enemies of the People’.”

The legal profession has never forgiven Dacre and he was able to add lawyers to the long list of those who regarded him – and still do – as a Right-wing bogeyman. He would say they were part of the liberal elite he so despised, Brexit-hating remoaners who would do anything to stifle the will of the people.

And so Dacre has been denied, at least for now, his coveted peerage. It was due to be announced by the Government yesterday, but on the advice of the House of Lords appointments commission his name was removed from the list. (Soames, incidentally, grandson of Winston Churchill, is himself on the list; a coincidence, no doubt.)

It is ironic, of course, that Dacre, the least clubbable man in Fleet Street, should be denied at the eleventh hour membership of the most exclusive club in London.

The excuse put forward by the commission is that Dacre is still an “active journalist”. Given that he is Editor in Chief of DMG Media, I should hope he is. And given that he has spent his entire career being a professional pain in the backside for the crooks and cronies who run the country, I suspect he always will be.

It is doubtful whether anyone in journalism is more deserving of an honour than Dacre, a towering figure who called out Stephen Lawrence’s killers with the front page headline “Murderers” and challenged: “If we are wrong, let them sue us”.

So it pains me to say that I’m glad he isn’t being elevated (yet). Accepting a peerage, or any other honour, is in my book a badge of dishonour for any journalist. It’s nice to be asked but just say No.

Among those who couldn’t was Sir Larry Lamb, the shining light of The Sun, who burned slightly less brightly as Editor of the Daily Express. Born in Fitzwilliam, Yorkshire, the son of a colliery blacksmith, he carried a chip on his shoulder as he moved among the Establishment. He regarded his knighthood as fitting reward for a working class lad, who got to the top through talent, not privilege.

Nick Lloyd, also of this parish, became Sir Nicholas ostensibly for services to journalism but in fact for his slavish loyalty to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. When he finally got his gong his deputy, Paul Potts, was asked whether we might now dial down the adulation.

“Oh, I don’t think so,” Potts said with a twinkle. “He’s going for the ermine.”


Evasive Truss, robot who either needs rebooting or booting out of Downing Street

Robot                 Doughnut


You may have read that a robot appeared before a House of Lords committee hearing this week. According to reports the robot, named Ai-Da and looking remarkably like a rather bolshy female in dungarees, had some problems answering their lordships. She struggled to hear or understand questions, mispronounced words and had to be rebooted half way through the session.

I was reminded (and you may be ahead of me here) of Ai-Da while watching Liz Truss at her so-called press conference yesterday, possibly the shortest and certainly the least informative press conference on record.

Just four questions were asked, from the Telegraph, Sun, Chris Mason of the BBC, and Robert Peston of ITV and each was essentially the same. ‘You’ve sacked your chancellor with whom you designed the mini-budget — in lockstep — so how come you are staying?’ The pesky Peston even had the temerity to highlight Philip Hammond’s disobliging comment that Truss has trashed the Tories’ reputation as sound on the economy and their chances of re-election.

Truss answered each question with exactly the same statement she had nervously read out before the questions: ‘I have acted decisively today…determined to reassure the markets of our fiscal discipline…my priority is to deliver the economic stability this country deserves…’

It wasn’t just evasive, it was the performance of a robot who needed rebooting. Or more accurately the boot which will surely come within a fortnight. She is so out of her depth that it felt cruel even to be watching. That eight-minute press conference ended with incredulity from the assembled hacks.

Senior Tory MPs, we are reliably told, are meeting the 1922 Committee next week to stage her downfall. For all I know they will call for Ai-Da. They could do worse.

Two thoughts: Truss and Kwarteng are very near neighbours in Blackheath. Oh to be a fly on the wall when they meet at the olive counter in Waitrose. And her approval rating is at nine per cent, identical to ‘Prince’ Andrew. What a shame she is far too old for him.


Roses are red, they grow on a stalk ...

OOOER MISSUS: From Closer, a magazine for ladies 

(with thanks to Humphrey Pumphrey, poetry editor)





The Daily Mail’s parent company is facing its first legal claim for phone hacking, after the former Liberal Democrat MP Sir Simon Hughes filed a case against the publisher, The Guardian reports today.

Hughes, pictured, alleges that Associated Newspapers misused his private information. He is expected to claim that the publisher employed a private investigator who improperly accessed his voicemail messages.

This is the first time the publisher of the Daily Mail will face a legal claim based on allegations of voicemail interception. Widespread use of hacking led to the closure of the News of the World and has mired both Rupert Murdoch’s News UK and the Mirror in decades of expensive legal action.



Sports editor Ken Lawrence’s signature, yours for£2.99 with a ditty thrown in (plus p&p)

Here’s another Express bargain. You can own a little bit of Ken Lawrence for a song if you direct your electronic device to eBay.

The seller's description reads: This sale is for a piece of paper signed (autographed) by newspaper sports reporter and sports editor Ken Lawrence who passed away in June 2021 at the age of 90.

Former sports editor at the Daily and Sunday Express, he was also Honorary Vice Life President at Surrey County Cricket Club. Measures 3 by 4 inches. Reverse side has a little‘ditty'.

Excellent clean condition. £2.99

Will be sent in a board envelope with weather protection.

P&P within the UK will be £0.75.

Interested? View it HERE

Clive Goozee has cast doubt over the authenticity of this signature, believing it may refer to another Ken Lawrence who worked for the Daily Star. Either way it has to be a bargain at £2.99 (+p&p) — Ed



Truss is the sole author of crisis


We live in strange times; Are we really so gullible as to believe that cabinet ministers really are urging Tory MPs to get behind their beloved leader and stop fomenting revolt, the very same ministers who are rounding on the prime minister themselves? The same people telling her to do U-turn after U-turn (which of course would result in going straight ahead.)

Steve Baker, Tory hard man of the ERG and darling of the right, now says, as a newly appointed minister in the Northern Ireland office, that he will do everything he can to unblock the NI Protocol impasse. Meanwhile Nadine Dorries (formerly known as Mad Nad Doris) gives an interview to The Times in which she quite reasonably sides with linking benefits to inflation and taking her handbag to the woman she supported so noisily to be prime minister, Liz Truss, the Forrest Gump of politics. A day later she writes a rather good piece in the Mail on Sunday giving Ms Gump sensible advice.

It’s difficult to keep pace with events. For instance, sacre bleu, the prime minister has been in full reverse ferret mode cosying up to little Macron. Then there’s Suella Braverman, outdoing Priti Patel in the nasty stakes and dreaming, she says, of planes taking off from Heathrow loaded to bursting point with Rwanda-bound refugees.

Then Ms Gump sacks the openly gay Conor Burns the moment a third party complaint is made citing his drunken fondling of a chap’s thigh and apparently suggesting an assignation; this in stark contrast to her predecessor’s dawdling over a similar offence by Pincher-by-name-Pincher-by-nature. Let’s hope W Dumpster’s reports of rumours concerning her own behaviour don’t come to haunt her. (Except I do hope they do!)

I get the impression that the prime minister acted so swiftly on Burns as a desperate way of distracting from the revolution among her MPs. But the reality is the real revolutionary is Truss herself. For instance which other prime minister, Tory or otherwise, would take on Middle England and conservationists and have the National Trust and the RSPB openly against her.

It’s madness and she is the solo author of the current breakdown in her party. What would her idol Maggie Thatcher say? And who could take over should she beat Anthony Eden’s record of just three months in No10? It has got so daft that one wag is betting on Michael Fabricant, he of the ludicrous blond hairpiece.

It’s all great fun for us cynical observers but it’s deadly serious for the many millions of ordinary decent people throughout these islands. Did you know that, thanks to the system by which the Tory Party chooses its leader, just 0.25 per cent of the population of voting age put her in Downing St? Democracy eh?

While I realise the fictional Forrest Gump ended up something of a success, a hero even, despite his inauspicious start. I doubt very much that there will be a happy ending for Ms Truss.

I conclude with the observation by a Times reader in its Comments section that the last three prime ministers, May, Johnson and Gump can be characterised as Luckless, Shameless and Clueless. The panto season is surely upon us.



Someone failed to get the wokey-wokey jokey

Sir — There is always someone who has to spoil it, isn't there? WOKEY WOKEY, your brilliant, inspirational service for snowflakes was marred this week by a send up from Melanie MacKenzie, who as you rightly say, did not understand the ethos of your wonderful and deeply spiritual column.

I shall await with deep feeling and expectation, for Wendy Watkins to get us back on track. Meanwhile, here is a poignant, spiritual thought of my own to help the snowflakes among us.

The more often we see the things around us — even the beautiful and wonderful things — the more they become invisible to us. That is why we often take for granted the beauty of this world: the flowers, the trees, the birds, the clouds, the buildings — even those people we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less. Why then, did we always want to see the Poppinjay more?

Molly Manners



A service for snowflakes

You’re Special! You’re Loved! You’re You!

You sad saps: you should just hear yourselves.

Sobbing and whining and snivelling.

Trying to think so-called pure thoughts; trying to speak ‘your truth’.

Face it. You’re neither Special, Loved nor You.

You’re a fucking disgrace. Pull yourselves together.

Pour yourselves a livener; put on a Foo Fighters vinyl.

And just try to grow up!

Melanie MacKenzie

Well, Mel, I think that just goes to show you’re not really getting the ethos of our inspirational feature. Never mind, next week Wendy Watkins will be here to try to get us back on track.

God help us — Ed


Prince Harry and Elton John sue the Mail over 'gross privacy breach'

PRINCE Harry and Sir Elton John are among several public figures taking legal action against the Daily Mail over what they call 'gross breaches of privacy'.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence and actresses Sadie Frost and Elizabeth Hurley have also filed cases against the paper’s publisher Associated Newspapers.

The company's alleged activity includes having listening devices secretly placed inside people's cars and homes.

Law firm Hamlins, which is representing Harry and Sadie Frost, said those taking action had been the victims of abhorrent criminal activity.

It is alleged that the activity included:

🔴 The hiring of private investigators to secretly place listening devices inside people's cars and homes

🔴 The commissioning of individuals to surreptitiously listen into and record people's live, private telephone calls whilst they were taking place

🔴 The payment of police officials, with corrupt links to private investigators, for inside, sensitive information

🔴 The impersonation of individuals to obtain medical information from private hospitals, clinics, and treatment centres by deception

🔴 The accessing of bank accounts, credit histories and financial transactions through illicit means and manipulation.

Associated Newspapers said in astatement: 'We utterly and unambiguously refute these preposterous smears which appear to be nothing more than a pre-planned and orchestrated attempt to drag the Mail titles into the phone hacking scandal concerning articles up to 30 years old.

'These unsubstantiated and highly defamatory claims — based on no credible evidence — appear to be simply a fishing expedition by claimants and their lawyers, some of whom have already pursued cases elsewhere.’



Their numbers have dwindled over the years but the First Tuesday Club of Express veterans are still going strong.

Pictured at their lunch in London are, from left, photographer Steve Wood,Maureen and Brian Freemantle, Cliff Seabridge and DavidBealing. David Haigh brings up the rear.



Dan, Denis Briarpipe and a family day trip that went up in smoke

CHUMS: Dan MacDonald and Tenerife Tel

Sir — May I take issue with the letter from Mr, Mrs, Ms or Something Cinct-Shanks in your current updated edition.

Cleverly headlined Droning On, this person of uncertain gender, who identifies as S.U. from Great Snoring, complains about your first class, undercover informant, famed for his brown cardigan whose rambling memories always appear to end with the intro. What’s wrong with that?

This to me signifies that the mystery Brown Cardie must have served for Sir John Junor on his successful Sunday Express that brought him a knighthood, as newspapers do. (Well, Tory ones). Junor of course was the master of delayed intros.

Each story had a format and would start perhaps, with a fox scratching at the back door of a creepy cottage in the Cotswolds … and finally end with a strangled body of a widow on the floor.

Without droning on, the reason I mention the Old Brown Cardigan is that in one of his stories he mentions pipe smokers on the Express during the Black Lubyanka days … Denis Brierly, Peter Hedley, Dan MacDonald and so on.

And I remembered with fondness, dear Dan spending weeks researching which new car to buy with profits from his bulging share portfolio. Finally, he decided on something or other and the car was duly ordered. When it arrived, he and his wife decided to take it on an afternoon drive from his gated home in Esher to the charm of Windsor. They took a male neighbour.

It was a hot day and his wife dozed off in the back of the car. Before driving home, Dan and his friend, both pipe smokers, stopped to buy some tobacco in a little high street tobacconist. When they arrived back later, Dan opened the rear door to wake his wife up. She wasn’t there. She had woken up and popped into a supermarket while he ordered his tobacco. They had left her behind without knowing.

This, of course, was a time long before mobiles.

What happened next is incredible. But I can’t tell you now because I forgot to put it in the intro.


Dollis Hill, Neasden, neighbour of Twiggy


Sir — I thank you for publishing a picture of Bob Haylett, Express late sub extraordinaire. It’s a pity that two self-regarding, boring farts got in the way. Incidentally, what were the accompanying words all about?


Much Puzzling


You’re being silly now — Ed



There were red faces at the Mirror after an almighty online cock-up with unfortunate racial undertones.

Thepaper managed to publish a picture on its website of a man they named as Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng. But, as Mr Kwarteng pointed out on Twitter:‘That wasn’t me.’

He was right. It wasn’t. The man was a stranger who just happened to be walking down Whitehall.

Compounding the offence, the Mirror carried a blurb inviting its readers to‘celebrate Black culture’.

Realising its error the Mirror published an apology, below, but it didn't really help matters much.

The Mail On Sunday took great relish in covering their rival's mistake, publishing an article entitled: 'Left-Wing Paper Grovels Over Kwasi Photo Gaffe'.

It's lucky for them that fewer people spotted the MailOnline making a very similar gaffe themselves just a few days later. When announcing that John Fashanu would appear on the upcoming series of Dancing On Ice, their online story was illustrated with a picture of John's late brother, Justin.




Press pack's doorstep hunt for killer in Avon Lady murder mystery

FLASHBACK: A newspaper cutting from 1981



Mary had a little skirt

That was split right up the sides

And everywhere that Mary went

The boys could see her thighs.

Mary had another skirt

That was split right up the front.

She never wore that one.



Sir — Since many of us departed the privileged world of the Daily Express, we are watching words vanish from our vocabulary. Latest casualty: “Batsman”.

Suddenly, even once such hallowed sources of English as the BBC have dumped the word in favour of “Batter”. I blame the 100 and T20 formats. Bish, bash, bosh!

These players are not true batsmen like Colin Cowdrey, Ted Dexter, Geoffrey Boycott, David Gower, et al. Quick-fix cricketers batter the ball with little skill or finesse. Have to say it: I’m stumped for words.



South Wales


Sir — Is Dominic Raab talking Kabulshit?


Isle of Dogs


Sir Love him or loathe him, the OFCOM ruling on Piers Morgan was a major statement on freedom of speech in this country and, you would imagine, a significant media story.

The BBC gave it 17.5 seconds airtime 22 minutes into the Six O’clock News; the Grauniad put it on Page 17.

If the ruling had been reversed, do you think these news ‘judgments’ would have pertained?


Back Bar

WhatsApp Group


Sir — Through you, may I appeal to Drone readers for any news about former Expressman John Fox-Clinch? I recall that John was nicknamed after a punctuation mark: semi colon or dog’s cock or something like that.

He was always shy and self-effacing and reluctant to give out many details about himself. I just wondered how he was getting on.


Much Info


He’s definitely getting on — Ed


Sir — I met a man who has trained his dog to play a trumpet on the Tube. Apparently it went from Barking to Tooting in just over an hour.




Sir — The ‘People v Pets’ Afghan sideshow featuring someone called Farthing reminds of the time when the Queen encountered the Express gardening guru of the same surname at Chelsea Flower Show.

I’d like to think P. Rodnose prevented the immortal picture caption Expressman Farting with the Queen from actually going into the paper but I’m not sure.


Back Bar,

Flying Fuck

It didn’t make the paper but Mr Farthing was bowing to the Queen in the pic making it look as if he was preparing to let one go — Ed


Sir — The Pen Farting imbroglio has created a feeding frenzy for handwringing animal rights zealots, including, it has to be said, ex-Express colleagues.

Numbered among them is someone (it’s kinder not to name her) who styles herself as a Furry Dogmother and who is said to be ‘a dogged (sic) campaigning blogger and twitterer’. Bless.




Sir — My grand daughter went to a nightclub called Gravity and the ceiling fell down. How do you explain that?


Apple Tree Cottage



I can’t, now bugger off — Ed


Sir — I don’t think my new wife was too impressed with my choice of an ‘edgy boutique hotel’ for our honeymoon: bunk beds! It’s one thing on top of another for us two.


Much Humping



Sir — My neighbour says FUCKOFF keeps its meaning when said backwards, but saying FFOKCUF makes you sound Irish. I cannot confirm this as we only hear Geordie round here.




Sir — So many people these days are wearing blue plimsolls with big white ticks. Does the tick mean they've passed the Covid test?


Petts Wood


Sir — It’s nice to see a pic of those portly Express pensioners having a good time at the footie.

You mention pies: shouldn’t that be tarts?




Sir — Now that those nice Mujahidden are taking back their country, we look forward to the reinstatement of the Afghan Ball at the Café Royal, one of the highlights of the London social scene of the 1980s.

It was such fun, all that campaigning to get the nasty Russians out of Afghanistan!


Palin, Yorks


Sir — I see the Mail’s Ephraim Hardcastle (happy birthday, Big Mac, by the way) records that Queen Victoria used to add scotch to her claret to pep it up. I’ve heard of lemonade, but whisky! Do you think it will catch on?


Much Grousing



Family and friends of former Daily Express secretary Helene Costas bade her a final farewell on Friday, July 9,2021 at her funeral in Southwark Cathedral, London.


The phrase 'hung like a donkey' has its origins in the Bible. (Ezekiel 23:20: "There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses”.)

This is disgusting, remove it from my organ immediately — Lord Drone



Sir — Since 1997 the British and Irish Lions Player of the Tour has been: Scott Gibbs, Dafydd James, Ryan Jones, Jamie Roberts, Leigh Halfpenny and Jonathan Davies.

Could they possibly have something in common, look you?


Splott, Cardiff

Good Lord, is that thetime? — Ed


Sir — On my morning walk I regularly come across elastic bands discarded by the postman. These have now been joined by a scattering of thrown-away face masks. Is this stretching things too far?


Much Bending,



Sir — I see that Henri Delaunay, founding head of UEFA and father of the Euros, used to be a referee until a ball hit him in the face knocking out two teeth and forcing him to swallow his whistle.

I wonder if a certain actor knows that. Not many people do.




Sir — The fascinating reminiscences of the revise subs from the golden age of the Express reminded me of a priceless piece of quick-thinking by the stand-in revise sub in the early days of my spell on the Express sports desk.

Dear Harry Pashley, stand-in prod on this occasion, was a delight, if on occasions, a little eccentric. Though a little disappointed when he turned down my headline suggestion, I had to admire the way in which he cleverly defended his style point.

After finishing subbing a story, I considered that ‘razzmatazz’ was a perfect fit for part of the headline, recollecting that the noun had appeared recently in news page headline.

In the nicest possible way, Harry called to me way down the subs desk to point out that ‘razzmatazz’ definitely wasn’t used in the Express.

“But H,” I replied, “it was used in news last month.”

“Oh, well,” he replied without hesitation, “it’s only got one z.”

I retired gracefully.


Sir — Reading my former sports colleague Ian Barratt’s letter about Harry Pashley I was reminded of a Sunday evening in the department when Harry walked in from the stone with wet page proofs. The TV was on, showing 85-year-old Artur Rubinstein playing Grieg’s Piano Concerto. Harry looked at the screen and said:”He’s making mistakes, but he’s covering them up well.” Culture in the Games Room, who would have thought?



Sir — Here's a little something for the Great Wine Debaters to mull over. Back in the 60s the popular TV show On the Braden Beat staged a wine-tasting in which blind-folded drinkers were given glasses of red and white, both deliberately served at room temperature. Most couldn't tell the difference.


Petts Wood

PS:Chateau Cardboard suits me fine.


Sir — It’s a liberty that the lad who had a laugh with that Covid bloke off the telly faces being banged up. Strewth, it was only a bit of harmless Essex bantz. Whitty? Leave it out: he’s got no sense of humour at all.


Whalebone Lane,



Sir — “Critical Race Theory” which is so exercising our woke elite these days is apparently the brainchild of Marxist philosopher Michel Foucault.

Pardon my French but isn’t that pronounced Fuckall?



Fuck knows, in my day CRT stood for Cathode Ray Tube — Ed


Sir — No reminiscences about the great days of the Express can be complete without mention of the doyen of revise editors, Basil Denny, the man who put the Prod in Prodnose.

Basil only had to rise from his desk to silence the room. Many a downtable sub visibly paled — in more deferential times, some were reputed to have fallen on their knees, gibbering — when Basil bore down on them, face set in a grimace, shooting his cuffs and clutching an offending galley proof. A comma out of place, a careless misspelling, no transgression went unbollocked.

For an errant sub there was nothing for it but to decamp for a restorative sharpener or two in the Old Bell.


Hard by Table Mountain


Sir —How gratifying to rate a mention in Spike Diver’s excellent eulogy to Express supersubs! A lot of drinking went on in those days and although I can’t remember being Revise Editor I shall take Mr Diver’s word for it. Do you think I might now qualify for an Express pension?

I did once sell Hickey a picture of Sir Julian Huxley’s great grand-daughter, Susannah Huxley, whom I discovered working at El Vino. Could this have caused some confusion?

I wouldn’t have bothered you with this query, but I have always believed that the Drone will continue to prosper only while the letters outweigh the obits, and unfortunate recent events are tipping the balance.


University of Gazunda


Sir — Regular readers of the Drone will appreciate that not only has Aunt Marje previously exposed the inadequacies of Keir Starmer and Anneliese Dodds but summed up former Secretary of State for Health and Social Care the Rt Hon Matthew Bindon-Hancock, MP, as a ‘jumped-up little twat’ when he was being lauded by other less well informed commentators.

How prescient and perceptive does a columnist have to be to graduate from being a trainee?

Ra! Ra! AN RR (t)


Dealer Principal


West Byfleet

I haven’t seen the person to who you refer for months — Ed


Sir — Watching the warm-up match of the British and Irish Lions’ tour, I notice from the names on their shirts that all the Japan players are called Toshiba. Typical Oriental cunning, of course, but you’ve got to admire them for it.


Llanvihangel-Ystern-Llewern 3rd XV (The Tossers)



Sir — I see Labour has urged Matt Hancock to “get a grip” following the shock revelation of his secret dalliance.

I thought The Sun’s front-page picture showed he had a very firm handful indeed of the lady’s left buttock.




Sir — What a gross piece of news manipulation was the ‘wars have started for less’ confrontation between HMS Defender and Putin’s navy as ‘tensions boiled over in the Black Sea’.

Lucky that print and broadcast heroes just happened to be there to report in breathless, first person purple prose as the ‘drama-drenched’ minutes ticked by and, er, everyone went back to the wardroom.

Simple, really. Load your warship with hacks, sail into disputed territory, wait for the inevitable, nay obligatory, reaction, withdraw and then fuck off home.

Such bollocks.


Trafalgar House


Sir — If your readership 

(Cape Town to Pratts Bottom) despairs of an ever-changing world, let it rest assured that it is always Tuesday in the centrefold of Radio Times.


Petts Wood


Sir Three of us went for a meal at our newly reopened pub. I watched a waitress put a pint of beer and a bottle of red and two glasses on a tray. She set it down on our table and announced that Covid bollocks prevented her taking the drinks off the tray and would we mind doing it.

What the fuck’s that all about, little Mattie Hancock?


Much Wondering



Sir — Willie Rushton’s amusing tips reminded me of a game ranger pal of mine who had spent a week squiring a wealthy American tourist through the African bush — dawn game drives, late-night barbecues at the watering hole etc.

As the Yank prepared to leave he asked my friend: “You want a tip?” My friend blushed expectantly.

“Never tie your shoelaces in a revolving door,” he said, driving off.


Cape Town


Sir — Acclaim (Eh? — Ed) for my earlier letter on bizarre Lincolnshire place names which could also be P.G. Wodehouse characters, prompts me to add some more: Burton Pedwardine, Boothby Parnell, Burton Le Coggles, Heydour Warren, Caythorpe Heath and Ewerby Thorpe.


Willard Heath



Sir — Watching the late night TV newspaper reviews after taking blood pressure pills in advance, I wondered if it struck other former hacks how easy it now is for the loony Left to use the spot as a platform for their own personal views about running the country and why wallpaper should be banned.

All they have to do is set up a website no one reads, with a title no one understands — say Cosmic Nonsense — give themselves a title that would take years to attain in Fleet Street, and the TV studios’ media advisers, The Guardian, would recommend them for the appearance, providing they weren’t over 25.

Surely the time is right for our very own Lord Drone to take up the crusade against these bright, young, Yasmin Alibaba-Brown devotees, who know so much about the world, and appear himself … an Editor so respected on the patch.

Surely the producers would jump at the chance of learning a thing or two from the website that has become a bible of our trade?

TENERIFE TEL, renting in dreamy Dollis Hill.

Good idea, but it might be past my bedtime — Ed


Sir — I was shocked to see a headline in the Telegraph today about “shoehorning lesbian scenes”. Good grief! Is this some woke rite of passage? It sounds very painful indeed.




Sir — I have been much amused by the bizarrely-named Wiltshire villages, such as Compton Magna, Lesser Dismarsh and Divers Bottom, mentioned by your Country Boys diarist

But since moving to Sunny Lincolnshire (very nice, since you ask, but don’t mention the fucking C [for conveyancers] word) I realise it’s a rural trait.

Near me are Cherry Willingham, Boothby Graffoe and Carlton Scroop.


South Rauceby

Are you sure they’re not 

P.G Wodehouse characters?

— Ed


Sir — The recent fine weather has prompted me to get my summer wardrobe out of lockdown. I’m pleased to report that at least one item still fits: a rather nice linen scarf I bought in Bellagio a few years ago.


Waitby, Cumbria


Sir — As colour-blind casting in the arts grows apace with the new Anne Boleyn TV series, surely a Netflix biopic about the life of Martin Luther King Jr, starring Kenneth Branagh, with Morgan Freeman as President Lyndon Johnson, Emma Thompson as Coretta King, and Lenny Henry as Bobby Kennedy, cannot be long delayed.


via #Twatter


Sir — I’m afraid you’ve been had by `Daredevil’ Charles C. Ebbets, or his sponsors, the Acme Shoe Co of New Jersey.

Come on, would a safety conscious bloke who sports both belt and braces really risk everything astride a girder up above New York?

I don’t buy it; he’s a poser.

Check the trouser creases, the artfully crooked little finger and elegantly pointed co-respondent’s shoe. For my money the real heroes are Acme’s marketing team and the poor sod on the next beam who pictured Ebbet’s elegant stance.


University of Gazunda


You shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers. The Drone’s motto is: We may not be first with the news but we’re always wrong — Ed.


Sir — I was so excited when I read that you planned a major revamp of the World’s Greatest Online Newspaper. Now you have completed the transformation…wow! Congratulations on a great job: it looks so much more modern, en pointe and niche in a sophisticated way.

To tell you the truth, the old version had grown a bit tired and rough around the edges so well done to you for spotting it and taking such successful action. Bravi to the Drone team!



Have you been drinking again? — Ed


Former Daily Express features sub-editor Sue Bromley has died from cancer. She was 75.

Sue lived in retirement at Cockerham, near Lancaster, and in recent years worked at the Lancashire Archive.

Her friend and colleague Nick Hill told the Drone: "Sue was a typical outspoken, tell-it-like-it-is character and a room lit up when she walked in. 

"Her straight-talking and often colourful language was not to everyone’s taste but she was a good operator and pretty unforgettable."



Sir — We’re all grateful that the Covid roadmap allows us to enter licensed premises again but I’d forgotten the risk of encountering the pub bore.

Look who I ran into at my local, the Rose Without Trace.


Kentish Town


Sir — Following the suggestion by Tony Hall-Shanks that you employ a certain M Bashir, may I make a similar recommendation? A previous employee of mine, D Cummings, is without work or useful activity and has taken to frightening the horses. He is a hard-working, intensely loyal and thoroughly discreet individual who would make an excellent chauffeur for the Drone limousine.


Downing Street


Sir — Recently, while discussing possible holiday alternatives with my rather elderly mother-in-law, she intimated with a sigh of resignation that she was finally looking forward to the relaxation of Covid-19 rules and regulations.

Yesterday, I happened to mention that, if she were interested, she could now visit Iceland.

She peered at me with her typical look of displeasure. "Oh, no," she said, "I don't think so. I've got far too used to Tesco.”


(Name and address not supplied)


Hi, Al. How’s it hanging? Long time no see: fucking Covid! I was hoping to invite you to a piss-up at the National but events forced me to knock that on the nut. I’m writing to put in a good word for a journo, one of my lads, looking for a job. 

Dedicated, inventive, ingenious and a good interviewer. You could do a lot worse than Martin Bashir. Love to LP, Spike and the gang.


London W1A


Sir — If you are having trouble squeezing the 540-page Drone into its new smart format, here's an old stone-sub's trick, to be used in desperation: Cut from the bottom up, irrespective of content, but always leave the last par in to make 'em think you'd read it all.


Petts Wood



Sir — I was so pleased when hubby bought me this top quality David Austin rose. Then I saw what it’s called: do you think he’s trying to tell me something?


Rose Hill



Sir — Regular Drone readers will recall that Aunt Marje was one of the first to query the suitability of Anneliese Dodds to be Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (If Ms Dodds is the answer, what the fuck was the question?)

How perceptive does a columnist have to be to graduate from being a trainee?

Ra! Ra! AN R.R (t)


Dealer Principal


West Byfleet

She could start by turning in some decent copy — Ed


My dear Sir —Staring dimly at your august organ reminded me of the days that when the Slopers were out of the building, we erks on the art desk would amuse ourselves by sending the art desk clerk’s sandwiches down ‘the tube’ to the process department.

Dobbie (for it was he) would always be unamused, but would send his ‘runner’ (if ever there was a misused word) down several flights to retrieve them. Occasionally, I believe, they returned with a bite missing…


Four-eyed art bod, the Tim Holder era…


Sir — Since ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer was elected Labour leader, the Drone’s Aunt Marje has twice warned readers that ‘there is less to him than meets the eye.’ How prescient does a columnist have to be to graduate from being a trainee?

Ra Ra, AN R.R (t)!


Dealer Principal


West Byfleet

Who? — Ed


Sir — I’ve been having a spring clean/lockdown turnout and am a frequent visitor to our local recycling centre. I’ve enjoyed the banter with binmen Ashley, Dave and the lads but now they’ve invited me down the pub when Covid restrictions end. Frankly, I’d rather not go but how can I refuse?




Sir — Forgive me for saying it but I think the Daily Drone’s looking a bit tired and unoriginal of late. Boring pictures of snappers in beer crates; piss poor petitions; contrived, unfunny kildares 

(limericks, surely — Ed) and as for the ubiquitous Shankses, well they can fuck off for a start.

I remember when you used to run interesting things about overheard conversations in supermarkets, old films on the telly, and a nostalgic, haunting, evocative series inspired by a train stopping at a station in the Cotswolds before the Great War.

If you’re short of someone to write some good stuff I know just the lad.

Come on, Ed: it’s game-raising time!


Adlestrop Avenue


Oh do fuck off, Spotty — Ed


Sir — What a pleasure to re-read Vincent Mulchrone’s ‘Two rivers run silently through London’ piece from Churchill’s Lying in State in the Daily Mail’s 125th anniversary supplement. The phrase ‘Fleet Street giant’ tends to be over used but Mulchrone truly was a legend — and not only in his lunchtime.


Chief Sub


Sir — How quickly vogue becomes passee. My 23-year-old grand daughter was, understandably, chuffed to find Rod Stewart and his wife, Penny, at the next table to her outside a London riverside restaurant. But her family WhatsApp photograph of the occasion was greeted by my youngest grand daughter, aged 15, with: ‘Who’s that? They look like any old couple.’




Sir — Re Welsh pluckers. A certain wise monarch was also a keen ukulele player, viz:

King Solomon had a thousand wives,

He'd serenade them daily.

But what's the use of a thousand wives

If you've only got one ukulele?

Did George Formby sing this? Can't be sure. Further research needed.


Petts Wood


My excellent limerick, by RONNIE GIGGLES

There was a young lady of Dee

Who was stung on the arm by a wasp.

When they said, 'Does it hurt?'

She replied, 'Not at all.

'I'm lucky it wasn't a hornet.’

Er, Ronnie? Could you glance into my office, luv? — Ed


Our good friend, the prolific and successful novelist Rory Clements, has a new book out.

A Prince and a Spyis the thrilling follow up to the Sunday Times bestseller Hitler's Secret.

Tom Wilde returns to unravel a dangerous mystery that goes all the way to the heart of the Third Reich — and the British Monarchy.

We have yet to read this book but if Rory’s past novels are anything to go by it is recommended.

Rory has heldsenior positions on several newspapers including the Daily Express, Daily Mail and Today.


A cracking new thriller by former Expressman Robin McGibbon is now available from Amazon.

The semiauto-biographical novel is set in Fleet Street with characters that may be recognisable — only the names have been changed.

This is the synopsis:

Vengeance comes at a price. A loyal reporter faithful to an emotional secret pact.

A power-crazed editor hungry for revenge, acorrupt police chief obsessed with money, a loving wife who fears the worst.

All four caught up in a scandal of blackmail and vice that disgraced Scotland Yard and changed the way Britain was policed.

Final Deadline, a fast-paced, dialogue-led story, soaked in the atmosphere of 70s’ London, tells the story of ex-national newspaper reporter Ross McLean, whose misplaced loyalty to former local paper colleague Harry Wise has catastrophic consequences for both of them.


JON ZACKON has written a heartfelt tribute to his old friend and colleague Bob Johnston, who has died aged 93.

Bob, a former Mirror executive and Daily Sketch MD in the Sixties, passed away at his home in St Agnes in Cornwall.

He leaves a widow Joan, aged 90 and brother Don, 80. The couple had no children.


Jeff Connor, a former 

sub-editor on the Daily Express and Daily Star in Manchester, has a new book out.

Busby’s Last Crusade tells the story of Manchester United’s rise from the ashes of the Munich air crash in 1958 to the team’s European Cup victory 10 years later.

With more than 200 images, the book features the humble Scot who led them there, the legendary Matt Busby.


Still dark out


The pack had been standing outside the unpretentious bungalow near Biggin Hill airfield all afternoon. We were tired, bored, it was starting to rain — and what’s more, the pubs were about to open. We were pretty sure the subject of our interest was inside, but was refusing to play ball. One or two swore they had heard some movement, but if Graham Sturley was home, he was lying doggo.

Sturley, it was generally agreed (by us journalists at least) had murdered his wife, who hadn’t been seen for more than a year. Linda Sturley was an attractive, 29-year-old Avon Lady. He husband was “a bit of a lad,” at one time a private eye, shopkeeper, taxi driver and “property developer” who had done time for handling stolen goods. They had what we called a “stormy relationship,” and there were stories of arguments and violence, with both reputed to have had extramarital affairs.

She was six months pregnant when she disappeared. The police had launched a belated investigation but no trace of the missing woman, not even a hospital birth, could be found. There was only one suspect.

The mystery of the missing Avon Lady was tabloid gold and Mr. Sturley, our news editors had reasoned, should give to us reporters the explanation he was refusing Detective Chief Inspector George Cressy and his Murder Squad.

As an exercise in futility, the doorstep is hard to beat. It’s like waiting for a cork to pop itself out of a bottle. Occasionally the object of the exercise is compelled to leave the relevant premises, which at least gives the accompanying “snappers” the chance to snatch a picture, but rarely does it provide anything worthwhile for reporters. Doorsteps are an insurance policy for newspapers terrified that a rival might just get something, anything, they haven’t.

This one was turning grim. There was nothing, not a jot, that even the most inventive of us could squeeze out of it. Something would have to be done to break the deadlock, and all eyes turned to me. As the youngest of the assembled hacks, I was often thrust forward on these occasions. It was time, I decided, to drop the polite inquiries. I marched up, hammered loudly on the door and shouted through the letterbox: “Come on out, we know you did it!”

Nothing. Sturley had either detached himself from reality or was genuinely not at home. Either way, it allowed all of us to cover our backs and report that we had exhausted all avenues. This had to be a collective decision – all for one and one for all. If just one decided to dig in, we would all have to keep him company. Happily, all agreed it was time to adjourn to the nearest hostelry, the Kings Head, once a refuge for Battle of Britain pilots. Even here, it paid to be suspicious of any fellow drinker who might decide to play stitch-up and slip away for one more door knock.


Our chum Jon Zackon, of this parish, has finally extracted his digit and published his latest novel, Sealion Drowning as an 

e-book on Amazon.

The book — Lord Drone describes it as an excellent read — is set in August 1940.

Churchill is shown a report that states that any German invasion will fail. He loves the idea. If true it could lead to his first victory over the Nazis.

It becomes apparent later that Hitler is also sceptical of his chances. So Churchill takes a massive gamble — to lure Hitler into invading.

It’s grippingstuff.


In an attempt to make this Home Page a little smaller and less crowded, I have created Front Page Extra.

Gradually, as time permits, many stories will be removed from this page — but fear not, all of them have already been transferred to their new home.

As a bonus, the new page will give pictures a better display — Ed.

Sturley remained under investigation for a further three months. The police pulled up his floorboards, dug up his garden and searched the surrounding woods with heat-seeking equipment, all to no avail. He stuck to his story that his wife had run off and he never reported her missing because he was glad to see the back of her. The police were still determined to charge him – then he died of a heart attack.

I suffered mild misgivings. Suppose his wife really had run off? Had our doorstepping put him under extra pressure? A few weeks later, I learned that police had searched a giant pig farm just a few miles from the Sturley home in Farnborough -  where they found a woman’s shoes. The farmer had been out of the night Linda vanished.

Officially, the case remains unsolved but the cops believed her husband killed her nearby, brought the body to the farm, cut it up and fed it to the pigs. We knew he did it.


Crisis? What crisis? Let’s splash on the man with 

a phone up his bottom


The Daily Drone is the work of several contributors, most of whom are retired Daily and Sunday Express journalists.


A journalist who has never worked for the Express is like a soldier who has never marched to the sound of gunfire — Brian Inglis


The Daily Drone was conceived, published and financed by Alastair McIntyre, former chief sub-editor of the Daily Express, where he was widely known as Bingo.

For the purposes of this website, drones are people who sit around doing nothing, as in a bee colony. We have no connection withremote-controlledpilotless aircraft or missiles.

All contributions are welcome.


NOTHING TO SEE HERE: Yesterday’s Mail


Gallagher named as editor of The Times

THIRD TIME LUCKY: Gallagher has edited two national papers

Tony Gallagher was named yesterday as the new editor of The Times.

He takes over from John Witherow, 70, who becomes chairman of Times Newspapers. Witherow has been in charge of the newspaper since 2013 but has spent much of the last year off work due to illness. During this period, Gallagher, his deputy editor, has effectively been in charge.

Gallagher, 58, was editor of the Daily Telegraph between 2009 and 2014. After being sacked from that job, he worked as a chef in the restaurant Moro before a short stint as deputy editor of the Daily Mail. In 2015 he joined Murdoch’s media empire as editor of The Sun.

Five years later he became deputy editor of The Times, where he has long been seen as the favoured candidate to take over. If his appointment is confirmed, Gallagher will become one of the few people to have edited three national daily newspapers.


Here I sit alone at sixty

Bald and fat and full of sin

Cold the seat and loud the cistern

As I read the Harpic tin

– Alan Bennett parodying John Betjeman


Here at the Drone we slaved for 12 Daily Express editors.How many did you work for?

Speculation about the editorship of the Times has been widespread in recent weeks. Rumours that the former cabinet minister Michael Gove, who worked at the Times before becoming a Conservative MP, may return to the paper proved to be wide of the mark

Rupert Murdoch, executive chairman of News Corp, said: “Tony is an exceptional editor with an expert and experienced eye on creating the best news package. His deft approach will be an asset to The Times in the years ahead.”

Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News UK, said: “Tony has a peerless record of leadership across Fleet Street and, as deputy editor of The Times, he has shown tremendous skill, commitment and passion."

Gallagher said: “I am delighted and enormously proud to take on the editorship of The Times, the first paper I subscribed to as a teenage schoolboy. I am acutely conscious of the heritage of The Times but the title also has an exciting future.

“We have made significant strides with our digital transition – and there are more to come – but world-class storytelling will always be at the heart of what we do. With the most talented newsroom on Fleet Street, I am confident we can succeed in delivering for Times readers.”



How the Press reported the sinking £ in 1992

17 September, 1992

How the Press reported the sinking £ in 2022

26 September, 2022



The height of chivalry

What a pair of gents.Two men give an elderly woman a lift at the Coronation of King George VI, in Trafalgar Square, London on 12 May 1937.

The picture was taken byHenri Cartier-Bresson and featured in an exhibition, Strange and Familiar: Britain as Revealed by International Photographers at the Barbican Art Gallery in 2016.

Picture: Magnum Photos



A service for snowflakes

You’re Special! You’re Loved! You’re You!

You don’t always have to be strong.

It’s all right to scream, swear, if you have to,

And have a really good cry.

Friendly hands will reach out to you if you do.

But remember: you’ll ultimately need to pull yourself together.

Yes, you alone. Draw strength from the good you have done

And look towards a bright, new horizon. Beyond the doubt.

Fenella Frame

Thanks, Fenella: eloquent as always. We’re forever in your debt. Next week: Melanie MacKenzie — Ed


How Tories solved the UK's migrant crisis 44 years ago

MASTERPLAN: The Daily Express reports Shadow Home Secretary William Whitelaw’s scheme to keep the foreigners out in 1978, a year before Margaret Thatcher led the Tories to power. Wonder how that went then.

The paper also records the retirement of its income tax expert Monty Haleswho retired at 65 after 35 years service. He must be turning in his grave over the latest mini-budget.

Thanks to Steve Mill for the cutting.


Eliades heads for the mountains

Expressman David Eliades, who headed the Daily Express night news desk for years, is retiring soon to Switzerland with his wife Lamar, with whom he is pictured.

To mark the occasion, members of the World’s Greatest Lunch Club, modestly presented him with a signed photograph of themselves at their normal dining trough, which at the time was Joe Allen’s. They now dine elsewhere due to overpriced food and iffy service.

Thanks to Alan Frame for organising the pic and doing the presentation all by himself.



BEST FEET FORWARD: Novelist, expert on royalty and former William Hickey editor (to name but a few accolades), Christopher Wilson put this post on Twitter on the eve of the Queen’s funeral, proving that you can’t keep a good man down.



A new service for snowflakes

You’re Special! You’re Loved! You’re You!

We all make mistakes; regrets haunt us.

How we wish we could change some things that happened in the past.

Be brave. There’s a reason why the rear view mirror is so small

And the windscreen is so large.

Where you’re headed is much more important

Than what you have left behind.

Daphne Dismore

Just so, Daphne and how like you to bear witness to this pure truth. We’re grateful. Next week: More insightful insights from Fenella Frame.


What ever happened to the Daily Express Make ItAccurate sign?

(The answer’s a bit of a curate’s egg)

The editor has received the following strange communication.

Sir, from the Ministry of Utter Bollox …

What was the meaning of Make It Fast — Make it A Curate? The sign on a green board that hung for years on cobwebbed chains from the yellowing, nicotine-stained, clean-air pipes over the Express newsroom in Fleet Street of the 1970s/80s, we wonder.

An oily rag had been thrown over the second letter ‘c’ in the word accurate (making it a curate), on the sign originally installed to reflect the fast pace of a newsroom on deadlines. But what did the modified curate line mean? One scholarly sub, from Oxbridge or somewhere hallowed, who always struggled with a brev across two, once offered his explanation.

The phrase, he said, was from a Punch magazine cartoon showing a timid curate, having breakfast with his boss, the Bishop, who says: "I'm afraid you've got a bad egg, Mr Jones." To which the curate, Mr Jones, replies, trying not to give offence: 'Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent.'

And that my learned friends, refers to the well-known phrase or saying - a bit of a curate's egg! Something discreetly declared to be partly good and accurate - but in fact thoroughly bad!"

What a load of bollox, eh?

But what did happen to that sign? Whose study is it hanging in?


Claptrap Towers, 


Definitely a load of bollox, Prof. My favourite version of the sign was: 'Make It Fast — Make It Up' — Ed

TONY BOULLEMIER writes:My lord, I cannot tell you what happened to the Daily Express sign 'Make it Fast — Make It A Curate’.But I can tell you who covered up the first 'c' in accurate.I was present, and somewhat amazed when a senior executive lumberered up on a desk and effected the change.

So who was it?

Step forward Arthur Firth, then Night Editor and later Editor.A man with a very fine sense of humour.



Sir – The newsroom signs as I remember them said MAKE IT EARLY, MAKE IT ACCURATE and (shades of My Fair Lady), GET ME TO THE PRESS ON TIME!

There was also a hangman’s noose some wag had set above the Back Bench. It was there for years. I managed to escape with my neck intact.


Night Editor 1977-79

The famous 1895 Punch cartoon by George du Maurier, pictured above, has spawned several parodies. Here’s one from 1997 ...


Dear Aunt Marje



Dear Gramps,

Congratulations on the second shortest question I have been asked after Tog? I suppose only ‘Ng? Shortest surname in the English language’ is going to beat that.

Velcro though. Yes, I can see where you’re coming from. You’ve got to the age where it’s an almighty faff tying shoe laces and you have to rely on that little Vietnamese girl from down by the station (‘Anyfin else you wanna me do for you, Misser Gramps? Cash or card’) to trim your toenails.

You’re thinking Velcro flaps for your shoes. Not as elegant as those nice 10-eye Oxfords you used to wear to the office but very effective (if a bit loud when you peel them back after a hard day).

All praise then to Swiss engineer George de Mestral who invented the fastener he named after the French words velour (velvet) and crochet (hook).

And if you’re worried that they’ll quickly wear out. Don’t. They reckon you can fasten and unfasten them 20,000 times and can even spruce them up with a toothbrush.

Go for it!


Dear Aunt Marje

‘A’ surely?


Gazunda, Western Aus.



How Twitter hounded Johnson out of No10

TERRY MANNERS, in a long think piece for the Daily Drone, believes the salvoes of hate on Twitter contributed to the defenestration of Boris Johnson from Downing Street.



Night the Queen Mother joined the long cue for a

swift half at Press Club

The Queen Mother rather liked visiting the Press Club. She made at least two visits between 1961 and 1986, Lord Drone recalls.

Here she is in 1961 taking a pot shot on the Club’s green baize watched by a admiring onlooker. The inevitable glass of Dubonnet ispresumably out of shot.

Twenty-five years later Her Majesty also bumped into Lord Drone’s majordomo Alastair McIntyre and shook his hand, as pictured below. McIntyre recalls that the QM was impressed that he was one of the few journalists in the club that night, surrounded as she was by fawning, hee-hawing PR persons. No offence,chaps.



HOW IT WILL LOOK: The existing fascia is retained, left, with a modern interpretation alongside and a huge development to the rear soaring to 21 storeys

By SPIKE DIVER, the Ghost of Fleet Street Past

THE iconic Daily Express building in Fleet Street is to rise again in a huge redevelopment of the Central London site.

In keeping with its illustrious past, it will become a public arts centre — or a Palace of Fun, if you will.

The currentGrade II* listedArt Deco structure, built in 1932, sits on the corner of a block of buildings and was incorporated into a larger office block development to the side and behind in 2000, known as River Court.

It was occupied by Express Newspapers until 1989 when the titles moved across the River Thames to Blackfriars.

The site is currently concealed behind hoardings but planning permission has been granted for a massive transformation of the site which will retain the existing preserved frontage.

The building will soar to a staggered 21 floors to becomea public cultural destination with 'social and educational outreach’, a writers’ area and a roof garden.




Mrs Brown’s Boys

FIFTEEN years of tradition ended yesterday when the World’s Greatest Lunch Club switched their allegiance to a new restaurant.

The club had been meeting regularly at Joe Allen’s in Exeter Street, in London’s Covent Garden. But things have changed at the Americaneatery which was closed for months during the covid lockdown.

The February meeting was our last. The prices at Joe’s had gone through the roof, the food was mediocre and the service surly — such a change from the good old camp days when out-of-work actors used to wait at tables fluttering their credentials.

Yesterday members switched to Brown’s restaurant in St Martin’s Lane. The difference was marked. The food was excellent and the service efficient and friendly.

The lunch was the club’s 79th, nearly all were held at Joe Allen’s in Exeter Street and later Burleigh Street, apart from one at the Chinese Cricket Club, one at the Ivy Grill, Covent Garden, and two at Browns.

Pictured above from left are: Alastair McIntyre, Ashley Walton, Alan Frame, Terry Manners, Roger Watkins (chairman) and Dick Dismore.




DAFT: Goodwyn's Furniture (which should, of course, carry an apostrophe) in Brierley Hill, West Midlands



APE                     JAPE

With Europe on the brink of World War III, Boris Johnsondecided to gurn his way though the Chancellor’s Spring Statement in the Commons. His resemblance to an orangutan was uncanny with orwithout the snooker ball.




FRANK THORNE 1949-2021

The last picture

Former Daily Express reporter Frank Thorne was full of hope when he posted this picture on Facebook from his hospital bed.

One day later he was dead.

Frank, who was 72, had been in the Royal London Hospital for aprocedure following a kidney transplant in July.

This was his final upbeat message to his friends on Facebook on Tuesday (7 September 2021):

Buster Bloodvessel - back in my second home, the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel today, Tuesday, for what I hope will be a minor operation to expand a narrow blood vessel, which is not supplying enough blood to Sydney the kidney. My new kidney is working well, so the expert transplant surgeons are hoping this is just another small bump in the road. Nil by mouth overnight, awaiting scans & depending on what they find, I’ll be whisked off to theatre. Centre stage again, so you can tell me to “break a leg” (errr , not literally)! I’m feeling robust, fit & well, so BRING IT ON!

Frank also worked on the Daily Mirror, Sunday People and Today. Later he freelanced for most national newspapers for several years in Australia and also worked on TV’s The Cook Report.

BILL HAGERTY said in tribute: 'God bless you, Frank. Memories are made of people like you.’

SYLVIA JONES: 'Although it was a close run thing, I think Frank loved life even more than he loved a good story. He died trying to keep on living. If only he had made it to see his book published.

'I remember him in his prime, acting as my“imp”when we went undercover to expose hookers working in Harrods perfumery department to pick up rich foreign clients. He was in his element wearing an eye catching shiny mohair suit — with a touch of lurex running through the fabric — flooding the Knightsbridge pick up bars with pink champagne using a generous advance from the Bank in the Sky.

'We can all entertain each other with his legendary and well remembered exploits. He was one of a dying journalistic breed who could always manage to write the splash — in Frank’s case probably in between his karaoke rendering of Roy Orbison hits and getting in the next round!

'But beyond all that booze and reporting razzmatazz, Frank was a kind, generous and loyal friend to a lot of people. He’ll be missed, not least by me.'

MARTIN PHILLIPS:'Such a terrible loss.Memories of Frank belting out Three Steps To Heaven on the Vagabonds karaoke seem especially poignant right now.’

NICHOLA MACKAY:'Bless you Frank, you welcomed me when Don Mackay adopted me into Fleet Street.I hope he's in the Slug and Seraphim with threat of the heavenly host.’



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.


Tweet of the Year


Muldoon’s Lookalike

 ESSEX                   McINTYRE

By S MULDOON (trainee)

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

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

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

I’ll get you for this, Muldoon — Ed


The Editor wishes to announce that, contrary to an earlier report in the Drone, he is not aged 80

Sir —I claim the Drone prize for guessing your age. Please find my entry attached, as requested, to a £5 note. My dear old granny used to tell me that she was as old as her little finger – which would apply with equal accuracy to your good-self. I am not quite sure how Winston Churchill fits into all this, so please regard it as a funny joke.


Petts Wood

PS: My gran also told me she was much older than her false teeth, if this helps.


Guess Bingo’s age competition: Page 98 (Send entries attached to a crisp fiver to the usual address)


Peter Cook sums up in Jeremy Thorpe case

THIS sketch by the brilliant satirist Peter Cook is regarded as one of the greatest moments in satire.

Cook, a comedy genius who died in 1995 aged 57, performed the sketch at the Secret Policeman’s Ball in 1979. It was a skit on the blatantly biased summing up by Mr Justice Cantley in the notorious Jeremy Thorpe case.

Thorpe (29 April 1929 – 4 December 2014) was MP for North Devon from 1959 to 1979, and leader of the Liberal Party from 1967 to 1976. In May 1979 he was tried at the Old Bailey on charges of conspiracy and incitement to murder arising from an earlier homosexual relationship with Norman Scott, a former model.

Thorpe was acquitted on all charges, somewhat against the odds, but the case and the furore surrounding it ended his political career.

Cook wrote the entire sketch in less than three hours following criticism that the Secret Policeman’s Ball show lacked satirical bite.His final words to the jury were a classic of the genre: 'You are now to retire (as indeed should I) carefully to consider your verdict of not guilty.”

It was the crowning moment of his career.



Thursday, 15 December 2022 at 21:07