Friday, February 29, 2008

vowels are for losers

I'm on amazon!

And like my degree certificate and my first proper published byline (Observer, 1998), they've spelt my name wrong!

But who cares- not me, I'm so excited I'm using exclamation marks!

And yes, I did phone my mum to tell her. Do you think Nick Hornby gets this excited?

(oh, if you've managed to miss any of the gratuitous plugging so far, details are here)

too bloody subtle, that's our problem...

From Popbitch mailout 368, last autumn:

>> Big Questions <<
What people are asking this week

Which well-connected public school boy is
finally flying off for his gap year travels,
after having to abandon his previous plans for
a trip to the sun with his mates? He's no longer
so keen on exploring the desert in a tank; his
old narcotic enthusiasm may be much better
served cleaning up the poppy fields.

From the Telegraph this morning...

Australian magazine broke Harry story... The story was then picked up by a German newspaper and, yesterday, the US-based Drudge Report website, triggering world wide interest.

Tch. Doesn't he look buffty in his uniform though?

Mind you, weren't the MOD forward-thinking in having all those packages of photos, video and interviews ready for immediate release to the media five weeks ahead of schedule?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The seven ages of woman: girl, girl, girl, girl, girl, girl, old dear

The transcripts of the Scott Baker inquest reveal that Miss X, the MI6 agent cross-examined yesterday, joined the secret service in 1982. Which, even if she joined straight out of school, makes her more Connie than Jo.

So how does the Sun describe her evidence this morning? "GIRL SPY: NO KILL DI PLOT".

Don't worry, though. They fell into line with everyone else and were calling her Miss Moneypenny by the second column.

Best Frenz 4Eva

A "web exclusive" that didn't make it into the last Eye, largely used here as an excuse to print this picture of the Daily Mail's Lord Rothermere and Adolf Hitler, which I hadn't seen before.

The Daily Mail devoted a full page on 8 February to Winston Churchill’s “extraordinary relationship with the founding fathers of the Mail,” with Robert Hardman enthusiastically plugging the opening of the Harmsworth Room in the Churchill Museum by the paper’s proprietor Lord Rothermere. “It will serve as a fascinating reminder of the public and private links between Churchill and one of Britain’s pre-eminent newspaper dynasties,” Hardman noted. “It reveals a relationship which could veer from warm friendship to open hostility but which could never be ignored.”

Something the paper did choose to ignore was the warm friendship the first Lord Rothermere also enjoyed with Adolf Hitler, whom he visited on several occasions in Germany and supported in print (most notably denouncing the “clamorous campaign of denunciation” against the Fuhrer in 1933 and pointing out that his election had stopped the rise of “Israelites of international attachments [who] were insinuating themselves into key positions in the German administrative machine”). Amid anecdotes about dinner parties and friendly wagers between Rothermere and Churchill, Hardman did manage to note in passing that Winnie’s best pal was “a supporter of appeasement”, but it is left to the Eye to provide a fascinating reminder of just how much, with the words of the telegraph he dispatched to Hitler following the Munich Agreement in 1938: “My dear Fuhrer …Frederick the Great was a great popular figure. May not Adolf the Great become an equally popular figure? I salute your Excellency’s star, which rises higher and higher."

Ephraim's Hard, Castle

Oh god. They forgot to put the bromide in Peter McKay's tea again.

Why is Natasha Kaplinsky always in trousers for Channel 5 news broadcasts? Presentational experts say the camera angles and sofa from which she delivers the news might conceivably provide viewers with a flash of the Kaplinsky knickers, robbing the show of its gravitas. But is it simply that she feels her legs are not her best feature?

I don't even want to think about who the "presentational experts" might be. A panel of him, Geoffrey Levy and Andrew Alexander huddled in the gents round a signed photograph of Carol Barnes, probably.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Things that only strike you twenty years late, and are in retrospect slightly disturbing

... Tone Loc's Funky Cold Medina, on the radio just now. It's basically about Rohypnol, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Vic Reeves versus Sharon Osbourne


And when was it that the Osbournes were a new and exciting thing to watch on telly again? 2001?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


... judging by the sitemeter stats for this week (hits up by 400 per cent!) it would be more profitable to use the slogan "Everything that's hot about Max Gogarty"...

Fish. And biscuits.

This from yesterday's Independent Media section, the inside front cover of which was entirely filled with a large advert for Five News, carrying the slogan "News With Personality".

Her editor, David Kermode, appears equally irritated by the distraction of the chatter over Kaplinsky in denim. "The personality thing is a marketing slogan. In terms of a news programme, Natasha would have no desire to have her personality stamped all over the news and I have no desire for anybody's personality to be stamped all over the news, either."

In the light of this new approach to journalism, I'm adopting a new marketing slogan for this blog, "Everything that's hot about tropical fish and biscuits". There won't actually be anything about tropical fish or biscuits in the blog, but sod it, it might boost the numbers by pulling in a few readers from Practical Aquarium and

As for the show itself... search me. I don't watch TV news bulletins. That elusive 25-34 year old audience you see...

Monday, February 18, 2008

The most important thing that happened in the world today

Half a page on page 7 of today's Independent goes to the news that "the painting that illustrated one of the most famous album covers in pop history is to be sold at auction."

So which is it? Peter Blake's original Sgt. Peppers artwork? Andy Warhol's peelable banana for the Velvet Underground and Nico? That cake Delia Smith baked for Let It Bleed?

Er, no. It's Gerhard Richter's Kerze, from the cover of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation. Which is quite interesting, and entirely understandable were this page 7 of Word magazine, but... half a page? In the news section? Even the Indy is forced to admit that the LP "scarcely troubled the charts when it was released in 1988".

Despite the fact that I've only got one Sonic Youth song on my ipod nano - Kool Thing - it always turns up within the first twenty minutes every time I put it on shuffle. I'd always put it down to my ipod being a bit of a sad old alt:rocker (Dinosaur Jr, the Breeders and Dead Kennedys seem to crop up with similarly perplexing regularity), but perhaps there's a different reason... is my ipod the News Editor of the Independent?

Ah, fuck it, it's Monday afternoon. Let's have a singalong.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Max Gogarty

After the first of the eleventy-billion emails arrived at Private Eye about Max Gogarty on Thursday afternoon, it took me less than a minute to establish that his dad didn't actually work for the Guardian. And that bit of a twat he might very well be (weren't most of us when we were 19? Isn't that what 19 year olds are for, and that's why they get the washboard stomachs and cheekbones to compensate?) but he is a successful writer in his own right, and hence a perfectly reasonable commission, whoever he might be related to. So now can we all get back to anonymously slagging of the McCanns instead?

If you want to read about a lot of editorial staff who actually did give their kids jobs on national newspapers - including a real shocker on the Guardian - can I recommend you read the half-page feature I did on the topic in the current eye?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Worst Feature Idea. Ever.

Seven years ago, when I was a commissioning editor, a young hackette pitched me the following feature idea:

"What about something on really bad things that have happened on Valentine's Day, eg St. Valentine's Day Massacre?"

I wrote back: "give me three others."

We never heard from her again.

Worst Valentines. Ever.

Not today.

Eight years ago, when I was extremely single and living in a bedsit in Muswell Hill, I came downstairs on the morning of February 14th and saw, nestling on the doormat, a hand-addressed cream envelope with my name on it in copperplate handwriting.

I rushed across the hallway, overcome with excitement, and tore it open.

It was a letter from Roy Hattersley.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How Journalism Works

Wednesday 6 February: I write up following story for the Popbitch mailout -

>>Les not Led<<
The perils of being down with da kidz

Yesterday on the Telegraph website:
"Led Zeppelin to play Bonnaroo festival in US. The newly reunited Led Zeppelin are to follow up their hugely successful comeback concert in London with a performance at a festival in the United States.
"Lez, not Led Zeppelin to play Bonaroo in US."

(Lez Zepellin are an all-female lesbian tribute band)

Wednesday 13 February: I arrive at Private Eye to start work on next week's issue, and find an email from a reader who has cut and pasted the popbitch story and sent it in for us to follow up, with the following warning:
"From Popbitch - could be p*sh"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Quick, put a bet on John Major being re-elected - you'll get great odds

In a single evening of telly-watching, I've seen the following:

1) an advert for one of those thumpy house compilation CDs apparently featuring the Utah Saints

2) a dramatisation of Jamie Hewlett's Get The Freebies from The Face

3) Frank Sidebottom.

When the hell did it become 1991 again?

Ah well, I'm off to put my Global Hypercolour t-shirt on and listen to my Jesus Jones cassettes...

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's a whole world of wrong...

... but this headline in the News of the World yesterday made me laugh like a drain.

Friday, February 08, 2008


From the Popbitch mailout this week

The ‘news in briefs’ column from page 3 in the Sun reports that Keeley, 21 from Bromley, is a strong supporter of the crackdown on MPs employing family members: “MPs should not be able to employ whoever they like and pay them as much as they want to. There has to be some kind of controls put in place.”
As usual, Keeley was snapped by Alison Webster, who takes all the photos for page 3. She is married to the Sun’s executive picture editor Geoff Webster, and they are the proud parents of Charlotte, who goes by the name of Jak, 21, from Tunbridge Wells, when she makes her own appearances on page 3.

Also in this week's Eye, the run-down of Fleet Street nepotism on page 5. That was me. My dad helped.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hey, Mr Brightside

"When I was a lad, the only impact interest rates had on working families was the cost of hire purchase on a new mangle," observes that little lad David Blunkett in his atrocious, sub-Polly Hudsonesque column in the Sun this morning. "The now-independent Bank of England is there to look after all of us - not just the overpaid City money men who react to every unforeseen event like the girls of St Trinians when they have spotted a mouse."

Leaving aside the fact that whoever talked him through what was happening in the St Trinian's films was clearly lying lest the old goat get over-excited and start trying to foist his babies on anyone in grabbing distance yet again, let's just have a look at the Register of Members' Interests and see how much, in addition to his £60,675 salary and all those lovely parliamentary allowances, Beardie's pulling in at the moment, shall we?

BLUNKETT, Rt. Hon. David (Sheffield, Brightside)
1. Remunerated directorships
HADAW Productions and Investments Ltd, to which is payable income from:
Making available to, and granting rights relating to, the Blunkett Tapes - Juniper Productions for Channel 4. (£10,001-£15,000)
Advising and taking part in the Blunkett Tapes for Juniper Productions for Channel 4. (£10,001-£15,000)
Guardian and Daily Mail joint serialisation of Blunkett Tapes. (£100,001-£105,000)
April 2007, preparing for presentation for Channel 5 programme for 'Big Ideas That Changed the World' series. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 24 April 2007)
Chair of Commission on School Transport - First Group Ltd (phased payments £20,001-£25,000)
I have not yet drawn down any income from this directorship.

2. Remunerated employment, office, profession etc
Weekly column for The Sun newspaper commencing 3 August 2007 (renewal of contract). (£101,000-£105,000)
Chair of International Advisory Committee to Entrust Inc. (from 1 March 2007); company providing internet security systems. (£25,001-£30,000)
22 March 2007, fee for speaking engagement at Pet Food Manufacturers Annual Conference. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 4 April 2007)
10 May 2007, Sky Television appearance. (Up to £5,000) (Registered 24 May 2007)
6 June 2007, fee for speech on security and risk management from the Association of Insurance and Risk Management. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 4 July 2007)
9 October 2007, speaking engagement for Institute of Revenues Rating and Valuation Conference. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 1 November 2007)
7 December 2007, speaking engagement for annual event organised by Green Issues Communications. (£5,001-£10,000) (Registered 7 December 2007)
21 December 2007, Granada TV 'What the Papers Say' speaking engagement. (Up to £5,000) Fee paid to the Weston Park Hospital Cancer Appeal, Sheffield. (Registered 21 December 2007)

6. Overseas visits
25-30 November 2007, to Israel and Palestine with Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). Travel and hospitality paid for by LFI. Accommodation paid for by LFI at a rate discounted through the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some hospitality provided by the Palestinian Legislative Council/Palestinian Authority. Travel within Israel/Palestine provided by LFI. (Registered 5 December 2007)

8. Land and Property
Second home in London, from which I temporarily receive rental income

which by my calculations works out at up to £345 grand, not including whatever he's getting from that house he's been "temporarily" getting cash from for as long as I can remember. Nice work if you can get it. The good folk of Sheffield Brightside must be so proud.

Friday, February 01, 2008

"If you're just joining us, the entire eastern seaboard of the United States has been decimated by a terrorist attack"

I've just had an email from the never-knowingly understated Kay Burley at Sky News telling me what's coming up on the show she apparently presents at lunchtimes.


We'll also be reflecting on how a ship off the Egyptian coast may have caused internet carnage across the Indian subcontinent. Underwater cables have been cut causing web chaos and it could take up to a week to fix. It's thought the ship's anchor may have cut through the cables which carry computer traffic from Europe. We'll be reflecting on how fragile the internet framework can be.

Internet carnage? So how much "extensive slaughter" actually occurred when people in Bangalore couldn't get on to Google, Kay?