Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Bang bang, you're dead

This is the actual gun in question, complete with its dinky little holster and "bullets". Accompanying plastic cowboy hat and spur set not pictured.

“Just two hours to buy a deadly weapon,” thundered the Daily Mail on February 16 over the news that hack Christian Gysin had been offered “a classic 9mm Beretta-style automatic pistol” after a few phone calls. “Last night a weapons expert said the gun offered to the Daily Mail appeared to be a copy of the 1911A1 pistol which has been used by the U.S. Army for decades,” Gysin reported. “‘Many of these types of weapons can be made to fire live rounds,’ said David Dyson.”

Mysteriously, the rest of the quote Dyson gave to the paper failed to appear. It concluded: “But not that one.”

His full opinion of the weapon in question, as outlined to the Eye? “It’s a toy. It couldn’t be more obvious. You just have to look at it. You don’t need to mess around with gangsters to get hold of one of those – you could just walk into a toy shop and buy one.”

Naming and Shaming

A couple from the new Eye, 1179, out today.

“KING OF SIN” roared an approving News of the World on 11 February, over an exclusive interview with Joe Francis, the “horny porn man who has bedded Paris Hilton, Kimberly Stewart, Lindsay Lohan AND Tara Reid.” “Joe – founder of soft port giants Mantra films, boasts ‘I sure am a lucky guy to have had them all’,” noted hackette Georgina Dickinson. “Is he the luckiest bloke in the world… or just the MUCKIEST?”

Well, he’s certainly among the muckier. Francis is currently on probation after pleading guilty to failing to keep proper documentation of the ages of young women appearing in his series of Girls Gone Wild videos, which resulted in “footage of at least two minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct being distributed.”

Phwoar! Just the role model for the paedo-hating, crime-crusading, name’n’shame’m News of the World!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Hello, Times newsdesk!

Page 3 story, no less. What's that worth then?

I believe your accounts department has my details on file. BACs or cheque is fine...

UPDATE: All sorted out. Hack in question got info from reader, did own research, happily admits reading my story, we all love each other, everything's fluffy...

Monday, February 26, 2007

Dispatches from the parallel universe...

From this morning's papers...

Times: "The investigation into the train crash in Cumbria which killed one passenger and seriously injured eight is focusing on a set of points that were more than 20 years old."
Telegraph: "The preliminary inquiry into Friday’s fatal rail crash in Cumbria is concentrating on a pair of points close to where the accident happened."
Mail: "A pair of points is the focus of the preliminary examination into the Cumbria train derailment, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch (RAIB) has said."
Gaurdian: "The Cumbria rail crash which killed one woman and injured scores of passengers was probably the result of a failure in track maintenance, an interim report is expected to say today."

And on Planet Desmond?

Daily Express: "Anti-terror security service SO15 was last night investigating the Cumbria train crash after a group with IRA links claimed to have sabotaged the track."

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Friday, February 23, 2007

Phone con spreads to BBC

A web exclusive (which sounds so much more exciting than "Ian decided he didn't want this back in December and now I've failed to sell it to the Mirror, too", doesn't it?)

Before all the Richard and Judy furore blew up I was investigating other dodgy phone practices by Cactus TV... here's what I wrote for the Eye just before Christmas.

Interactivity is the key word at the BBC – but no matter how many times presenters repeat those phone and text numbers, some shows are definitely more interactive than others.

Eamonn Holmes was the guest on an recent edition of BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen, the cookery show made by Cactus TV, the production outfit behind Channel 4's Richard and Judy.

Like all the show's celebrity guests, he nominated his “heaven dish” (apple charlottes with thyme custard) and “hell dish” (poached pears with ginger ice cream) so that viewers could vote by text message which one they wanted to see host James Martin cook at the end of the programme. As usual, they were also invited to send in questions for guest chefs Atul Kochhar and Silvena Rowe with the promise, that, as the programme’s website puts it, “the best questions will be answered live on the programme, 10am-11.30am on BBC One.”

Curiously, Eamonn Holmes was also hosting his Radio Five Live show from 9 to 11 that morning – and he was inviting texts and phone calls from listeners on that, too. So how did the great man manage to be in two places at once?

“We very occasionally pre-record Saturday Kitchen,” admits a BBC spokesman. “What happens is we record both endings – the heaven recipe and the hell recipe – so it doesn’t detract from the viewers’ experience.”

But what about the questions you invite viewers to spend their money texting in? “Well, we get thousands and thousands of questions each week, and we only ever answer two or three of them on air. Not everyone actually wants their question answered on air.”

So do you answer all the rest of them off air, then?

“No,” says the spokesman. “There’s thousands of them.”

Is this a rip-off? What do you think? Call now!

Thursday, February 22, 2007


... for "push bottles up German rear" ambiguity the Sun runs it pretty close with today's "I hounded the man who killed my husband to death... and I'm proud of it."

I wonder if she used Domestos, the bleach that kills all known germs - dead.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Headline of the week

comes from free ex-pat paper The South African: "I AM NOT DEAD, SAYS FRUSTRATED MAN."

We used to have a wall of these when I worked at The Big Issue, mostly culled from local papers. My favourite, concerning contamination in a bakery, was: "HAM SHOCK FOR PIE GIRL".

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This week I have been mostly getting cross about...

... the reaction to the above from the college authorities.

I did something similar when I was at Emmanuel college eleven years ago, although my offence was only against the Master, Lord St John of Fawsley (peace be upon Him). It came in the form of an article in the college newsletter I edited entitled "Shock Slag in Drag and Fag Hag in Shag Shack Shock Shocker." He tried to have me expelled, or rusticated, or whatever they call it in Cambridge. Thankfully he failed on the grounds that the Senior Tutor of the college hated him even more than I did.

And that's how I ended up doing work experience at Private Eye nine and a half years ago. And then got a job there. And am still there. So there.

I've written to the silly sod, er, budding journalist responsible and offered to buy him a pint when he's stopped being too frightened to go out of his door...

slack hacks

Two from Street of Shame in the new Eye, out today...

“Today’s newspapers aren’t necessarily about news,” announced Mirror editor Richard Wallace in an interview on February 1. “It's no secret that I have taken the Mirror down a more magazine-style road.”

That much was evident in the a story which was inexplicably placed in his paper’s news section the previous day: “Humiliated into losing 19 stone”, the harrowing tale of how Maureen Edwards had decided to go on a diet after becoming wedged in a garden chair. “Maureen slimmed down from an astonishing 28 stone to just nine with the help of a hypnotist’s weight loss CD and a sack load of determination,” reported impressed hack Brian Roberts. “Speaking of her BBQ chair ordeal, she said last night: ‘It was one of those white plastic outdoor ones and I just couldn’t get out…’”

Mrs Edwards also seems to possess impressive powers of memory, given that the seven paragraphs of quotes she gave to Roberts were word-for-word identical to the testimonial she penned for Paul McKenna’s book I Can Make You Thin, published in January 2005, the very year that the paper claimed the incident occurred. Her account also appeared in the Sun’s serialisation of the book that same month as well as on the hypnotist’s website

Curiously, however, she appeared not to be able to remember Mr McKenna’s name, which did not appear anywhere in the Mirror article. Naturally, this has nothing to do with the fact that paper had to pay out libel damages to the hypnotist last summer after a nine-year legal battle over his qualifications.


A guide by Sun hackette Emma Pryer.
1) Pen report on the Kylie Minogue’s visit to exhibition of her own costumes at V&A for Sun website, remembering to preface all mentions of singer with adjectives “brave” or “plucky”.
2) Insert quote from “Fan Annabel Roberts” who thinks “She looked so beautiful. She won’t find it hard bagging a new man. After all she’s been through, she deserves the fairytale.”
3) Email said Annabel Roberts and other friends, pointing out that “After Annabel’s boyfriend Dan scored a picture of him and Hugh Grant on a night out with me I couldn’t resist getting Annabel a plug in the paper…. Check out today’s coverage from last night’s Kylie event……. Ha!”
4) Watch as boss and “Showbiz Writer Of The Year” Victoria Newton plucks report from website and publishes it in paper underneath own byline.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Bother (big)

So the Sun have settled with Makosi Musambasi over destroying her chance of winning Big Brother two years ago. Which means its a shame Ian H didn't manage to include this story in the last Eye - although admittedly, he did fill an entire page with my Big Brother ramblings, so I can't exactly complain. I only really liked it for her Miss World-esque announcement in the first para anyway...

An unexpected outburst of altruism in the Sun, with the news that “Big Brother star Makosi is launching her own charity to help the poverty stricken children of Africa”. “I want to address and eradicate the causes of poverty and Aids problems,” announced the woman who came third in the 2005 series of the reality show.

“Recently it became clear that she had been wrongly accused of bypassing the audition process for the show,” the paper noted. “A published invoice that appeared to be for an audition video from a talent agency to Big Brother was actually unrelated to her.”

Presumably it was lack of space which prevented hackette Antonella Lazzeri from recording where this calumny appeared – the front page of the Sun on the day before the series finale, beneath the headline “BIG CON”. “Viewers who pay to vote for their favourites have a right to feel aggrieved – and her opponents have every right to be furious”, stormed the paper in an article published which destroyed any chance the 24-year-old had of winning the show’s £100,000 prize.