Friday, December 04, 2009

Some of the crowd are on the pitch...

Hello. Apologies for the radio silence over the past few weeks. It's just that I was outed as a research scientist from Bristol who doesn't look anything like Billie Piper.

No, that's not true. What actually happened was, I've been head-hunted by Will Lewis to go and work on the Euston Project. He wants me to head up a couple of spin-offs, one based in Manhattan and the other in Alan Parsons.

No, that's not true either. I'll be totally honest with you. I was actually Norman Painting.

Oh, alright, none of the above are true. But I am knocking this blog on the head, at least for the moment. Bits of the last three-and-a-half years have been fun. Thanks for having me.


Friday, November 06, 2009

Your Friday Treat

A few years ago I done had an idea. I would set up a blog gathering badly-posed pictures from local papers.

It was inspired partly by the time I watched a group of street performers in Cheltenham unicycling, juggling and performing interactive improvised limericks with a group of fantastically enthusiastic schoolchildren in Cheltenham as a photographer from the local paper stood idly by smoking and drinking coffee, only for him to finally take off his lenscap, call the fun to a halt and insist that everyone stand still and awkwardly pretend to be receiving a large pretend cheque from a local dignitary.

Then I thought "actually, that would be quite a lot of work, wouldn't it." And then I thought "If I was clever, I'd persuade someone to pay me to do it." And then I got distracted by something shiny in the next room, and haven't thought about it since.

Luckily for us all, there is Scaryduck. And he - she? It? not only has impeccable taste (ie links to me here) but actually follows up on his good ideas. Ladies, gentlemen, ducks, I give you Angry People In Local Newspapers.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

So long, sucker

Look, I know I'm inviting thousands of comments along the lines of "OMG U is SUCH a minger how dare U", and I'm too old, a die-hard Buffyist and switched off Twighlight after 10 minutes even though I was stuck on a plane with 8 hours to kill... but what the hell sort of a teen heart-throb drives a Volvo?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Biscuitgate: The Truth

... it never happened. Grab yourself a Garbaldi and read me over on The First Post.

If you can take any Moir...

... I've done a Hackwatch in the issue of Private Eye out today which gives the untold story of the Jan Moir affair - including naming the man responsible for that headline. Plus, for just £1.50, you get an extraordinary free gift on the cover of every issue...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

"No! Not the lovely ornamental urn given to us by Mr Taylor from Barnet!"

"Protesters Storm into Television Centre"

If they damage the Blue Peter Garden, I shall be very cross.

(although almost certainly not cross enough to vote BNP)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Just fancy that!

“Giving up texting and twittering for Lent would be only the start if -- I know it's a big if, but I'm very fond of it -- I was God. Surely the day will come when this distracting nuisance will be banned for ever.”
Jan Moir, Daily Mail, 6 March 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

On having it both ways

Ok, I get that the Mail doesn't like The Gays. And I get that it hasn't really worked out for Jan Moir since she left the Telegraph, and that senior execs there are quite open about how Amanda Platell and Allison Pearson do it so much better and so she really really needs to make some impact before her contract comes up for renewal. And I even get that linking to the article in question does nothing except bump up MailOnline's oh-so-precious visitor figures.

But what I don't get is how having an extra person with you as well as your husband makes your death more "lonely"?

Rucking hell

Coo. They don't give up, do they?

"Carter-Ruck has made a fresh move that could stop an MPs' debate next week by claiming a controversial injunction it has obtained is "sub judice".

Thursday, October 15, 2009


John Rentoul on "Private Eye's sense of humour failure".

There speaks a man who gets his copy of OK! sent free to the office and doesn't have to pay £2.60 for it. Innit.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Carter fuck-off

THAT question, by the way, is the lead story on the HP Sauce page of the edition of Private Eye which is hitting newsstands about now...

Well done all.

EDIT ELEVEN HOURS LATER: And here's the boss, talking about it.

And here's some other thoughts about it, over in my other gaff.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Down With This Sort of knickers - er, Thing.

The Daily Mail website - fresh from its victory in printing a close-up of a 13-year-old girl's bottom back in February - is now demonstrating (shurely denouncing?) how when 14-year-olds wear "Miss Sexy" trousers you can see their underwear.

Stuart from Manchester provides a voice of reason in the comments:

There is a girl's school near me and 90% of them wear short skirts, it is totally inappropriate and should not be permitted.
- Stuart, Manchester, England, 7/10/2009 11:54

Ninety per cent you say, Stuart? How long did you spend checking the figures?


Well done to the Mirror for their corking "Cameron quaffs champagne as babies die" front page scoop this morning.

I bet Fraser Nelson is kicking himself. He could have saved a fortune - apparently, Tesco champers is just as good:

ALL along, I've felt Tesco champagne was special.
I do drink it but - ridiculously - I never serve it at dinner or lunch parties (I'm not really a snob, am I?) Quite honestly, it seemed a cheapskate thing to do. How foolish.

Instead, I stick to Dom Perignon at around £65 a bottle, Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame (about £100), or, my real favourite, Roederer Cristal (£125 for 75cl).

When entertaining mates, particularly ill-educated journos whose ignorance of the finer things in life is often deplorable, I serve NV champagne, although, naturally, it needs to be one of the grand marques.

Now, for £14.79, I can quaff a champagne guaranteed not to make me sick or, as important, penniless.

Truly, a fizz for the poor. They should sell it in magnums.

Says who? James Whitaker, writing in the Mirror in September 2005. The picture byline on his weekly column used to show him toasting the readers with a glass of bubbly. I bet they're glad he's retired now.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nation's finances sorted

UK's largest haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure discovered in Staffordshire.

"It has been declared treasure by South Staffordshire coroner Andrew Haigh, meaning it belongs to the Crown."

Coming soon to a field near you: Alistair Darling with a metal detector...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Worst. Protest. Ever.

Round at Jeremy Clarkson's house.

They could have produced more than that themselves if they'd had a big dinner!

Dumping horse manure on his garden. That'll tell him. Next week they plan to chop some logs, clean the windows and do a Sainsbury's run for him...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Slight return

So, Gordon, when you do this interview with the BBC about reform of the banking system, we need a soundbite that will really emphasise that we're looking forwards and moving on from the mistakes of the past. A phrase without any, you know, bad echoes or associations in people's minds. Do you think you can manage that? Yes? Good. Go ahead, Prime Minister.

"Ahem. There can be no return to business as usual."


... Bust.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Daily Mail finally discovers headline that has everything

Revealed: Baby P council sent foster child to live with ringleader of airline bomb plot

"I love it! But could we get swine flu in there somewhere?"

Billy no-mates

So we all know the most popular e-petition on the Downing Street website is the one calling on the prime minister to resign, which 70,770 prime tits have signed while LOLing nearly as much as they did when they wrote 'Jedi' on their census forms eight years ago. And then went back to scattering exclamation marks liberally around their lives in an attempt to mask the pervading odour of wet dog and regret.

But what about the other end of the scale, the deeply-affronted who can't persuade one single person to empathise with them?

While Professor Robin Marshall FFS (shurely FRS?) must have been spitting into his Full English this morning, the one I really feel sorry for is Richard Harrold. Do you think it will take him till 5 June 2010 to realise that no one else out there in the world thinks it would be a good idea to let him shag his auntie?

Arming Scouts though, that I could go for...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh. That sort of kung-fu kick. Right. Thanks for that.

Look, I'm the last one to criticise anyone for trying to contrive a pun in a headline, but if, as in today's Sun, it means you have to specify that while attacking her accountant, Kerry Katona "sent his door flying with a spectacular kick - similar to the infamous strike Manchester United legend Eric Cantona aimed at a fan in 1995," it might be time to give up and go home. Not least because it implies your readers have never seen a Bruce Lee film or even danced to Carl Douglas at a wedding.

Actually, that's not all that's rum about the Sun's account of the incident. A "pal" tells the paper that "she needs sectioning - who in their right mind beats up their accountant?" (has this person never met any accountants?), and the blow-by-blow description has David McHugh fleeing to his office, locking the doors and "cowering" inside - but managing to keep hold of a piping-hot cup of tea throughout. Which suggests either a devotion to his beverage approaching Tony Benn levels, or that someone's just making this all up as they go along. Which of Ben Ashford, Guy Patrick or Sara Nathan do you think was actually there?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This person cannot really exist. Can he?

This is the lead letter on the Daily Mail's letters page today (it's not online):

The other day, while doing our weekly shop, I bought for my two children Benjamin and Ofelia, a packet of Haribo Maoam lemon-and-lime confectionery. It was only after I was leaving the checkout that I noticed the appalling illustration on the packaging. This consists of a lemon and lime locked in what appears to be a carnal encounter. the lime, who I assume to be the gentleman in this coupling, has a particularly lurid and distasteful expression on his face.

I demanded to see the shop manager and during a heated exchange my wife became quite distressed and had to sit down in the car park.

I was told to register my complaint with the manufacturer. I'm glad I spotted this before my young children, who are both very sensitive.

My wife and I have always tried to maintain their innocence - and to think our years of careful parenting could have been wrecked by, of all things, a sweet wrapper makes me livid.

I received a reply from the company saying that the wrapper design had been introduced in Germany in 2002 with a view to making the fruit figures 'more modern and lively' to 'better appeal to the consumer.' It said 'at no point was it intended to create sexual images.' It had been shown to a number of children and adults of different age groups, none of whom has made any comments referring to sexual content.

I consider this response to be less than satisfactory. As a member of our local church, I'm now urging other members of our flock to boycott Haribo products until this illustration is removed.

Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

For prudery even further north, go here

Friday, August 14, 2009

"... and to top it all she has an unfortunate habit of appearing in unflattering photos"

I don't know Mischa Barton - I'm not sure I've even ever seen anything with her in it - but after reading this article in the Daily Mail can I just say on her behalf - "oh, just fuck off."

Fun Fact From History for Younger Readers: On September 8 1997, the Daily Mail printed the following - "The proprietor of the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Evening Standard announced last night that his papers will not in future purchase pictures taken by paparazzi."

Look! A like!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bad jokes, yes. Bad taste, hmm, not so much...

When my mum, then an English art student, was first taken to meet my grandmother, then her very Scottish and Kirk-going future mother-in-law, she presented her with a wood carving she'd done of John the Baptist. He was dressed in a goatskin, as Baptists tend to be.

The next time they visited, Granny had made him a wee kilt, "so he's decent."

I tell you this story to demonstrate that they'll take offence at some peculiar things up there in Scotland if you give them the chance to. And then I offer you this one from today's Daily Record, which might manage the unlikely feat of making you feel a bit sorry for Hardeep Singh Kohli.

"One angry mother said: 'This man's a disgrace... his mind operates like a sewer. The thought processes involved in coming up with 'Bagpussy' or 'Randy Pandy' are bad enough. To then publish it on a popular website beggars belief, given the pickle he's already made for himself."

Let's club together and get that angry mother some kind of award for protecting the public morals. Preferably one shaped like a big hairy cock.

That gollum correction: the Big Brother connection

Why is the Sun's Julian Brooker apology from four years ago suddenly zooming round the net again? People seem to be quoting it everywhere.*

Here's a story I wrote about it in August 2006, with an interesting extra detail people might find interesting. It didn't make it into Private Eye because... oh, I don't know. Maybe Ian Hislop wasn't watching Big Brother that year.

BB Has Saved My Life: Tourette’s Pete tells of year from hell” shrieked the headline in the Sun over a double-page spread documenting how Big Brother winner Pete Bennett had claimed to have gone “mad, pretty bananas completely at the end of my tether with life because something bad happened” prior to his appearance on the reality show. “Yesterday mum Anne Stephenson told how Pete’s best pal Julian died in a railway accident after Pete tried to save him,” the paper helpfully explained.

The paper was unable to find space to recall how it reported Julian Brooker’s death at the time – perhaps unsurprisingly, given that their January 27, 2005 report on his inquest was a work of fiction so spectacular that it required not one but two corrections in subsequent months. In March the paper was obliged to point out that Brooker – whose body Bennett dragged from a live rail, injuring himself in the process – was “neither thrown in the air, nor was there a fireball when he was electrocuted while doing an impression of Gollum. He had also not been drinking on the beach; his friend Natasha was not with him at the time; he was not obsessed with the number 23; and did not go out drinking every month on that date.” A month later the Sun added a couple of further amendments: “his mother did not say, during or after the inquest, her son often got on all fours creeping around their house pretending to be Gollum. Also, quotes from a witness should have been attributed to Gemma Costin not Eva Natasha. We apologise for the distress this has caused his family and friends.”

Unsurprisingly, Bennett declined to sell his exclusive tale of his Big Brother victory to the Sun.

* Oh. It's something to do with the young people on their Twitter device, apparently...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Something pleasing I should have noticed a week ago only I don't read the Daily Mirror very often

I bashed this out this for the Eye's Media News page last issue:


July 2009: BBC orders newsreader George Aligiah to resign as unpaid patron of charity Fairtrade Foundation as it “represents a potential conflict of interest which could undermine impartiality.”
August 2009: BBC denies there is any conflict of interest in case of BBC1 controller Jay Hunt, who is registered as company secretary of her husband’s firm Brightspark TV, which is paid by BBC to train television presenters.

That edition was on newstands in London on the afternoon of Tuesday, August 4.

On Wednesday, August 5, the Daily Mirror had an exciting front page splash:

"BBC bosses were accused of hypocrisy yesterday," it begins.

Well, yes. Yes they were.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Your Friday treat

Reasons Bookseller Crow is the best bookshop in the world:

1) A former member of Crass worked there*, and once recommended me a nice campsite in the Lake District. This replaced once having been given a bottle of Blue Nun by Jeremy Paxman as my favourite claim to fame.

2) They're offering this special promotion to anyone who pre-orders the new Dan Brown book as a gift.

Have a good weekend.

* (she might still do: I moved out of Crystal Palace a few years back and haven't seen her since)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

...Pants on Fire

A monthly subscription to Television X and an Ofcom fine for breaching rules on the protection of children to the first person who can find any reference in the Daily Express's coverage of the Desmond v. Bower verdict to the fact that he, er, lost?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Calling a spade a consolidated approach to multi-platform initatives

I've just been accused of using "direct language" by the BBC.

Well, I suppose it is exactly the opposite of what I've been accusing them of doing for years in the Birtspeak column...

Monday, July 20, 2009

Down with this sort of thing

Daily Mail dusts down its outrage, does a quick Find and Replace in 1996-vintage op-ed about Crash...

I haven't met Christopher Hart myself, nor shall I - and I speak as a broad-minded arts critic, strongly libertarian in tendency. But merely reading his copy is stomach-turning, and enough to form a judgment. He's a bit of a cock.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thanks for the ride, lady!

This may be down to me seeing It Felt Like a Kiss last night and still being quite seriously terrified, but for god's sake, do these people not watch horror movies?

My strong advice for the weekend: do not rob any stores guarded by wooden indian statues or run over any hitch-hikers...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

And while I'm being unbearably smug...

... Paul Merton phoned Ian Hislop up yesterday to tell him how much he'd enjoyed the Jackoballs page I put together for the last issue.

Tomorrow's news today, today's news eight weeks ago

See the Independent's front page splash and leader today? As followed up by the BBC, the Times, Telegraph, Mail, Uncle Tom Cobley and all?

Someone's just caught up with my story for Books and Bookmen in Private Eye 1236, published on 15 May, then...

Great strides forward with Labour’s manifesto commitment to boost child literacy, as the government prepares to introduce new legislation that could drive children’s authors out of libraries, classrooms and even book festivals for good. As of November 2010 it will be a legal requirement for authors to apply to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (set up as one of the recommendations of the Bichard Report into the Soham murders) for clearance if they are “invited to speak at any public event where you may come in to contact with children or vulnerable adults more than once a year”. The checks cost a minimum of £64, and anyone who “allows a person who is not yet registered with the ISA to work for any length of time in any regulated activity” will be committing a criminal offence.

The Society of Authors has pledged it will be “making representations to the ISA about the disproportionately wide-reaching implications of the current proposals”. Meanwhile a former Children’s Laureate told the Eye: “This could put an end to pretty well all festivals, launches, school and library visits, bookshop signings, lectures – I certainly am not going to apply for a check of this sort in order to stand on a dais in front of 250 children with ten or so members of staff in attendance, to ensure I do not rape any of them.”

Friday, July 03, 2009

Have Your Say: has anyone seen the spare toner for the photocopier?

The BBC's Have Your Say asks the vital question: "Will you be watching Murray?" Over 300 people - and counting - log in to answer.

Just think, 10 short years ago, you'd only have been able to ask that boring question and not be very interested in the answers you got within the confines of your own office. Isn't technology great?

Go here. Frequently.

This week I has been mostly...

... trying to find Michael Jackson lyrics which work as headings for the various sections of a bumper "Jackoballs" special in next week's Private Eye.

As you might imagine, I'm not going to stop till I get enough.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Can you spot the cat?

Last week's Question Time, BBC1.

Fast forward to 45:30, Julia Goldsworthy MP yakking her disapproval of banker's pay packets. Lovely ginger tom wanders along the back of the set...

That's Cornwall for you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Before the psoriasis kicked in, obviously...

I like this website.

Second best Adam in the world*

My friend Adam Curtis has entered the "blog" "o" "sphere".

He's mostly writing about It Felt Like A Kiss, the thing he's doing for the Manchester Festival next month, which sounds utterly brilliant. I spent my last birthday getting drunk with him and discussing Phil Spector, proper ghost trains, secret passages and Carnival of Souls. Frankly, the whole thing sounded even better than it did a year ago, when it was going to be about a singing gorilla.

Here's a trailer. It looks like the gorilla (or a close friend) is still in there somewhere.

* after Ant, obviously.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm alright Jack

The BBC are trawling through them there expenses claims with licence-payer's help.

The Conservative MP for Reigate has had an expense claim for £88.14 for a flag pole queried by Bradley from Redhill. He wonders whether this is the best use of taxpayers' money. In a statement, Mr Blunt has said the claim is justified as "I choose to display the Union Flag in my Commons office".

Truly, the man is his own rhyming slang...

Your Friday treat

Vintage health and safety posters from the Library of Congress. "Hat" "Tip" - Jane in the office upstairs.

(Actually I've met John, and he really is dull. Nice glasses though.)

Today's top headlines...

Nationwide Shortage of Black Ink as Newspapers All Have Same Idea for Front Pages...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Daily Mail asks: Are fashion ads going too far?

I'm just not sure. Show me another one. No, still can't decide. Another. Another. Now the first one again...

Did I mention my scholarship to Sandhurst?

Rachel Royce wrote a piece for the Daily Mail today. Apparently her marriage broke up five years ago. I know! I was flabbergasted. Thing like that, you thought she'd have mentioned it before now...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Now that's targeted marketing...


I represent a company called Star Position, a company that does what's known as advanced search engine placement. We reach a Network of over
35 million people who are predominantly US based. Our Network is entirely opt-in, and the users on our Network allow us to present them with a preferred choice whenever they are looking for anything on the top sixteen search engines. (GOOGLE, YAHOO, MSN and thirteen others.)

I seek one source to send the users on our Network, from the major search engines, for private investigators.

Please contact me at your earliest convenience. I will be in the office daily from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM Pacific time.

I wonder if lots of cobblers got it too, and are sending back replies that say "no, it actually is literally a gumshoe"...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

A good week for very bad news

I've got a shedload of stuff* in this fortnight's Private Eye.

Why not go out and buy a copy? £1.50 in all good newsagents. And some crap ones where the crisps are past the sell-by-date and they sell fags to kids, too.

(*I'm not telling you what. The rule is, if you like a story, it's mine. If you don't, it must be Francis Wheen's).

Monday, June 08, 2009

Tell us, Adam, what else did you watch this weekend?

The first minute of this clip features quite literally the best thing that has ever happened in any film ever.

Buy it! Buy it! Buy it! I promise you will not be disappointed. It's got a clockwork orchestra in it and everything...

So, farewell then...

Personally, I think British telly would be immeasurably improved if EVERY SINGLE PROGRAMME - soaps, period drama, documentaries, the news - featured Nick and Margaret hovering somewhere in the background, looking unimpressed.

Friday, June 05, 2009

"I believe in never walking away from people in difficult times..."

"... even if they get the political equivalent of a restraining order against me."

He's going to be scratching at the door of Downing Street the morning after the general election while Dave and Samantha are putting up the new curtains , insisting that the country faces difficult times and it would be wrong for him to walk away from his duty, isn't he?

It's probably just Anneka Rice...

There was a helicopter hovering overhead as I walked in to the Eye offices in central London this morning.

It says something about the events of the past few days that I wondered if it was the Skycopter ready to follow Gordon Brown's car on its way to Buckingham Palace.

Or if it was coming in to lift him off the roof of Downing Street, Saigon-style...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Spin-doctoring. Literally.

So, having watched this:

a piece of footage at which it is impossible, whatever your political leanings, not to laugh - the only possible way Gordon Brown can revive any popularity becomes clear.

More pratfalls.

Take that "Stalin to Mr Bean" image and run with it. He's got the awkward body language and crazy smiles already. Strapping on a pair of roller-skates and doing this down Downing Street and across Westminster Bridge would buy him at least, ooh, three days more in Number 10...

Five-times-a-Daily Male

Over in your one-stop-shop for online filth today:

Fitness Fiend Jessica Biel shows off her incredible figure in a thigh-high mini skirt

Harry Potter Star Emma Watson shows off her figure in a daring net dress

Natalie Imbruglia shows off her toned body as she strips off her wetsuit

Yeah, sod making an effort. It's not like anyone's actually looking at the text, is it...

This man, meanwhile, takes you straight to the smut with no danger of Melanie Phillips popping up to spoil your, er, concentration...

Friday, May 22, 2009


And to think if he'd gone to "Flytes of Fancy" he could have spent a seventh of the cash and still come away with the Penthouse Duckhouse - or as I like to call it, the Nutbush City Limits...


Just look at the other models we could have bought for Sir Peter Viggers!

What d'you reckon, Anthony Steen - it looks a bit like Balmoral, doesn't it?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So that's why he likes Guy Ritchie so much...

The Sun's priapic showbiz correspondent Gordon Smart makes a surprising - well, actually, no, let's be honest, not that surprising - admission this morning:

"THOUGHTFUL STEVEN GERRARD would wax his 'back, sack and crack' if his pretty missus ALEX CURRAN insisted, despite his undercarriage being in a particularly unruly state.
The Liverpool skipper normally shuns the beauty regimes favoured by preening stars such as RONALDO but would make the sacrifice for Alex.

But he warned: 'Have you seen my a**e? It’s like an Alsatian’s. I don’t think I’ve got the pain threshold to do that but if the missus really wanted me to, I’d have a go.'

Stevie the Alsatian, I couldn’t resist it."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

MPs Expenses - day 904

So the Telegraph have finally realised it would be easier just to list the MPs who WEREN'T fiddling their expenses...

Friday, May 15, 2009

How not to be a media whore

"Adam? BBC London and the BBC News Channel both wondered if you'd go on and talk about MPs' expenses scandal this morning. There's a fee for the News Channel."

*ponders work planned for today, none of which is particularly urgent.*

"Um, no, I can't be bothered."


The going rate for hacks willing to go on the BBC and complain about MPs taking money for nothing from the public purse? £75...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mondays are the new days for treats

I've just had a Tunnocks Teacake. You can have the opening titles of the best computer game in the world ever.*

*that isn't called Zelda: Ocarina of Time

A sorry state

The headline says: "Brown Apology Over MPs' Expenses"

The Prime Minister actually says: "I want to apologise on behalf of politicians on behalf of all parties for what has happened in the events of the last few days."

So he's apologising, on behalf of some people he doesn't represent, for the Telegraph publishing details of MPs' expenses. That's not quite the same thing, is it?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Named and shameful

So, everybody who was desperate to name names in the Baby P case last year... now a verdict in this has come through, do you see why those of us who understand the contempt of court laws were, er, "protecting their identity"?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cranks up abacus, tells monks to sharpen their quills...

I suppose it would just spoil the poor man's joke if I responded to this on my blog, wouldn't it.

Ah well. I'll leave it then...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Swine flew cattle class

Speaking as someone who flew in from America last week - and is currently threatening to cough in the general direction of anyone who annoys him in the office - do we really expect coralling people straight off long-haul flights and grilling them as to whether they're experiencing fatigue or aches and pains to be a particularly useful exercise?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Notes for editors

1. You all know perfectly well that there isn't a single paper on Fleet Street in the moment that has anything even close to £300,000 in readies to spend on anything, let alone a political story. If there was, Jade Goody wouldn't have gone to OK! magazine.

2. The "mole hunt" story rests on you accepting at face value a sum submitted by an MP. See any irony there?

3. It couldn't be clearer which side you're on in the mole v. government equation, even if you did lose your heads in the excitement over the whole Dr David Kelly thing a while back.

4. Stop falling for the spin, you credulous cretins. This isn't moving the story on, its moving the story away.

5. They're on the back foot here. And this one of the very, very rare occasions where you actually do have the moral high ground.


Monday, March 30, 2009

-Ka-ka-ka-ka oh stop repeating yourself

Heck of a scoop in the Mail on Sunday yesterday about Ulrika Jonsson's affair with Prince Edward.

For the past 20 years she has resolutely refused to reveal the nature of their relationship. Now, Ms Jonsson has admitted she was romantically involved with the Prince. In an interview tonight with Mail on Sunday columnist Piers Morgan for his ITV chat show Life Stories, Ms Jonsson denies sleeping with the Queen’s youngest son.

Asked by Morgan: ‘Did you or did you not sleep with Prince Edward?’ she replies: ‘I did not sleep with Prince Edward.’

But she admits: ‘There were a few dates, a bit of a slap and tickle.’

But hang on, didn't she say something similar to the paper which seralised her autobiography way back in October 2002?

"She met Prince Edward through an old friend of his who worked at TVam, but they never actually slept together. "We did nigh on the full works,' she says, 'but absolutely not that, which was my decision. I just wasn't hugely attracted to him.'"

And which paper was that? Oh, yeah, that's right. The Mail on Sunday.

(I only remember this because it allowed me to get the phrase "gob jobs with Prince Edward" into Private Eye...)

Harness your inner secret millionaire!

G20 leaders will be rocking up to the Excel - sorry, ExCeL - Centre on Thursday for their summit.

It might be worth them sticking around for this the following day...

Jacqui n'off

We've had plenty of cabinet ministers forced to resign in the past because they've been having sex with other people while their spouses sat at home in the constituency.

Are we really going to see the first cabinet resignation because their spouse sat at home in the constituency and had a wank instead?*

From Private Eye 1106, May 2004:


1986: BBC announces that Leslie Grantham's conviction for murder is a 'private matter'.

2004: BBC forces Leslie Grantham to make public apology for 'deplorable action' of masturbating in dressing room.

*Alright, two wanks.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Don't worry: quangos still know how to spend your money

Recession-tastic quote in today's Guardian from the 'head of culture, ceremonies and education' at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (funding: c.£50million):

"I wouldn't want you to think we haven't been having a lot of lunches with people."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Blog off

Stuff related to the book I'm working on - the history of Private Eye, to be published for the magazine's 50th anniversary in 2011 - will now be appearing over here, in the hope that people will contribute interesting ideas, memories and suggestions.

It includes the first appearance of our glorious leader, profiled in the "New Boys" column in HP Sauce in May 1984.

Other stuff - including occasional bits and pieces I've written myself for the Eye, unless I think they're particularly "historic", will still turn up here.

Why not check both blogs regularly? It's safer than leaving the house.

... on acid.

Fancy seeing New Boy, the play based on that rather good (but not his best) book by William Sutcliffe? The Daily Mail says it's

"the story of a schoolboy crush billed as Hamlet for the Skins generation."

Yes. I think if I'd written that I'd insist on just being credited as "Daily Mail Reporter" too...

Rage, Rage against the dying of the sales boost

So the Sun's joined the outrage over the OK! "tribute issue":

Fury as mag kills off battling Jade Goody

Some of the Sun's and its sister paper's front-page headlines over the past three weeks:

“Jade Says Goodbye” – 24 February

“Jack’s bedside confessions as Jade weakens” – 5 March

“Jade battles for baptism – too ill to talk” – 7 March

“Jade: The Last Kiss Goodbye” – News of the World, 8 March

“Jade’s Final Battle” – 11 March

“Going home to die” – 12 March

“Hubby Dashes to Jade bedside” – 14 March

“Jade hours from death” – News of the World, 15 March

“Jade tells youngest son: The Angels are Calling Mummy” – 16 March

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"And this clause says you agree to die just before our press deadline, or the kids go hungry..."

A while back I did a Hackwatch for Private Eye of OK! Cover Lies - the promises slapped on the front of Richard Desmond's magazine which turn out to be complete nonsense when you look inside. Or fraud, as we used to call it in the old days.

Today, however, they've surpassed themselves. The black border, the dates, the "final words", the "in loving memory" strapline.


Monday, March 16, 2009

You think you've got problems...

I can't help feeling the Sunday People's split front-page yesterday was a bit unfair in assuming Kerry Katona's sense of priorities:

Left-hand side: "JADE - 'Mummy is going to heaven now...'"
Right-hand side: "KERRY - 'I can't afford a pint of milk...'"

Friday, March 13, 2009

Your friday, er, treat?

The things you come across when compiling the Obamaballs column... so to speak.

This week's problem page in the East Bay Express. Dear Deirdre it ain't.

Eye'll have that

I haven't been putting much of the stuff I've done for the Eye up on this blog lately. Because, er, I can't be bothered.

But never mind, look, here's a site which helpfully scans in and posts loads of my stories online, like this one and this one and this one and these ones and this one and this one.

Helpfully, they also provide you with some overlong, overwritten, hectoring and humourless versions of their own so you can experience what it would be like to have Flat Earth News recounted to you from memory at high volume by a not very bright student you were trapped next to on a long bus journey.

Subscriptions to Private Eye are available here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My, er, son

I'm thinking about having a kid.

UK and Commonwealth rights available; US and translation rights by negotiation.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Joining Sky and Select on the great shelf in the Sky

Cover line on Arena, January 2009: Britain's Fastest-Growing Men's Magazine.

Cover line on Arena, March 2009: Welcome to the Future.

News about Arena, today: it's closing.

Monday, March 02, 2009

At this time, in a very real sense

It's not surprising local newspapers think sub editors are a needless extravagance if their trade body, the Newspaper Society, believes this to be an acceptable sentence:

"This is partly due to current market conditions and partly because we want to look at improving the format of our awards going forward."

To quote Auberon Waugh: "I thought I understood the English language well enough, but just what the fucking, sodding, shitting hell is this idiotic sentence trying to tell us?"

Friday, February 27, 2009

Right, mugs with the school badge on again it is then...

Teenage girls 'Pimped out their classmates' .

And to think they threw me out of Young Enterprise for proposing something similar...

Full Spectrum DomiNews

It's just... it... it has to be a Chris Morris stunt, doesn't it?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Close-up grief - now in full colour!

Have a flick through the front pages of today's newspapers. They all use some old publicity shots of David Cameron with his son Ivan.

All? No, the Daily Mail (which you won't find in that gallery) has gone with a full page shot of David and Samantha Cameron papped in the street on their return from the hospital. It's inside the Telegraph and Times as well, but the Mail have helpfully run it so big you can HAVE A REALLY GOOD LOOK AT HOW PUFFY HER EYES HAVE GONE FROM CRYING!

The paper says inside that "They were pictured by photographers as they walked along their West London street and a Tory aide said there was no objection to the pictures being used."

He's wrong.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

And that 96 Tears is a load of rubbish and all, my lover...

Hero of the day is the Mayor of Trowbridge, who appeared in an even-more-cringe-making-than-usual piece on BBC Breakfast this morning. Former punk rocker Hugh Cornwell has - smirk and raised eyebrow to camera - written a song about the not very rock'n'roll subject of - wait for it Bill! - the one-way system in Trowbridge! Ha ha ha! We sent our reporter to the sleepy little town which is simply miles from London to see why Cornwell thinks the place is so awful, and find out what the mayor thinks of the tune.

Cue Councillor John Knight, fully decked out in ceremonial gold chain like - ha! the provincial duffer he surely must be! - listening to the song on an ipod. Earphones out, will he obligingly play his part and say he's disgusted at the nasty punk slagging off his lovely town and maybe say something terribly funny and bumpkinish about bowling greens or a best-kept village competition?

Will he heck. In a broad Wiltshire accent, the Mayor opines: "it's not nearly as good as the stuff he was doing with the Stranglers 25 years ago, izzit?"

Can you spot the ghost?

... in the still from a video printed in this morning's Sun?

A: No, because for some reason the dopey picture editor has screen-capped the wrong bit, as demonstrated by the full footage on the paper's website.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Is this the greatest picture to appear in a national paper ever?

Find out why they look vaguely familiar here.

I blame the banker

Maybe it's just the fact that research for the Private Eye book has me buried very deep in the 1970s at the moment - thanks to the last couple of weeks' reading, I know more about Jim Slater and Eric Miller than any 33-year-old should - but what with bank bail-outs, wildcat strikes and the country falling apart at the slightest hint of weather, everything's gone a bit Life On Mars, hasn't it?

And then Noel Edmonds did this:

And all I could think about was this:

Stock up on tinned goods. It's going to be a long winter.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Nostalgic for David Montgomery

... possibly not a feeling anyone else in the world has ever experienced.

This afternoon I've been writing a piece for Private Eye about the man who was booted out as boss of the Mirror and Independent ten years ago this week.

He was the subject of the very first thing I ever wrote for the Eye way back on work experience in October 1997. And, by the magic of our in-house archive, here it is:

David 'Rommel' Montgomery might want to rethink his plans for the Mirror Group's 'Academy of Excellence', which include the proposal to do away with sub editors and allow writers full control over their blatherings that appear on the page.

Presumably this would allow more stories like the 'Benn Video Turns Nasty' piece that appeared in the Mirror on 30 September. It concerned Tony Benn's video diary of the Labour conference which was shown on the BBC's Newsnight. And according to the Mirror hack, this kind of work is entirely unacceptable 'in traditional circles.' In fact the piece found 'one reporter' who claimed that Benn's readiness with a camcorder was 'a disgrace to trade unionism... Multi skilling is the source of our industry, leading to unemployment right across journalism.'

Presumably, judging by Montgomery's recent form, the anonymous hack will be the first to join those statistics.

Plus ca change... we were all confidently predicting the Indy would be closed by Christmas then, too.

Not a million miles from Westward Ho!

Well, I guess the prominent coverage of the story that Birmingham City Council have banned apostrophes is a welcome sign that not every paper has got rid of their sub-editors.

I wonder if the Municipality of 's-Hertogenbosh will follow suit?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

EMMA WATSON once stubbed her toe, and RUPERT GRINT is a ginger

Gawd bless the Mirror for trying, but even they don't sound very convinced by the 'Curse of Harry Potter'. "Special-effects mistakes halted filming"?

Tomorrow: the Curse of Last of the Summer Wine, which has mysteriously carried off half the cast of the 36-year-long sitcom when they were only their 70s or 80s...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


From the Press Complaints Commission Code of Practice:

6 *Children
i) Young people should be free to complete their time at school without unnecessary intrusion.
v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life.

From the front page of the Daily Mail this morning:

(the picture, not the latest tale of 'evil social workers')

Want to see what the rest of Brad Pitt's kids look like? Collect the set!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Most unexpected thing found so far in research for the history of Private Eye, part 2

From the Colour Section, Eye 401, 29 April 1977.

Aware of the huge amount of money to be made, wizards at the BBC special effects department are desperately trying to create a successor to the famous Daleks which used to feature in Dr Who.
The best they have come up with so far is a mechanical robot dog, called - K9.
Woof, woof."

A geek notes: the K9 prop made his studio debut on 10th April 1977. He was not unveiled to the press until June.

(Part one is here)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thoughts on watching the inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th President of the United States

... God, I really hate Huw Edwards...

Brooking no dissent

I'm thinking of hiring myself out as a consultant to television productions, pointing out the bleeding obvious.

"The format of the show is cleaner and less complicated with just three judges, which was not fully appreciated ahead of filming," a spokeswoman for Talkbackthames said.

"Although Kelly brings a huge amount of warmth to the show and we've loved having her on board, the complications it adds to the filming process and format of the show means that unfortunately, and with huge regret, we have agreed with ITV not to proceed with a fourth judge."

Now I've seen about five minutes of Britain's Got Talent, but even I could see it was based on three judges voting people through to the next round or not. So if two of them put up their big red Xs, it didn't matter how much Amanda Holden cried, because it was two against one.

Well done to them for soldiering on for a full six days of filming though, most of which presumably consisted of Simon Cowell sighing and reaching for a coin to flip over and over again. I'd be quite cross if I was one of the people who'd auditioned whose stuff will have to be junked now, even if they were told they were through to the second round.

I could have sat in on the commissioning meeting for last night's Heston Blumenthal thing, Big Chef Takes On Little Chef, too, and shouted really loudly IT'S A SHIT IDEA AND IT WON'T WORK.

Cat fight

"Dear YouTube user.
Your video, Disco Kittens, may have content that is owned or licensed by WMG.
No action is required on your part; however, if you are interested in learning how this affects your video, please visit the Content ID Matches section of your account for more information.
- The YouTube Team"

Sorry, Madonna fans. If you want to listen to Madonna's "Hung Up" - you know, the one that's mostly an old Abba track - you'll just have to buy a copy. Yes, I know we'd all prefer to only be able to listen to a tinny version of about a minute-and-a-half of it in the background of a several-years-old video of my cats chasing a feather toy on a stick when we've got broadband access. But you're just going to have to go out and get the CD instead. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Cringe-alike

Which one of these do you find the most buttock-clenchingly embarrassing?

It's enough to make you feel sorry for Andrew Lloyd Webber. And the state of journalism.

The correct answer is (B) - the second pair would be better at producing a showbusiness column.

Hardcore hypoc*it*s

Front page of the Daily Express (prop. Richard Desmond) this morning: "Swearing Now the Blight of Britain: How TV is degrading our public life".

Top programme on Television X (prop. Richard Desmond) tonight: "Cunt Lust"

And they'll still be going on about it when she's got granddaughters herself

Autocorrect. It's a wonderful thing. I once set it on my flatmate's computer so that every time he typed his name it would replace it with the words "useless fuckwit" and he - and everyone he corresponded with - was confused for ages.

The Daily Mail appear to have it set up on all their systems so that every time anyone types the word "BBC" it swiftly adds ", still reeling from the fallout of Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand's obscene phone messages to Andrew Sachs, 78."

No matter how totally and utterly irrelevant it might be.

Obviously, though, they switch it off when they're offering old BBC programmes as freebies to try to make people buy their newspaper.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Thanks be to Ludd

Apparently, I'm running the initiation ceremonies at the BBC now.

Mail takes silver

Nice to see the Daily Mail's subscription hasn't lapsed.

Revealed: Blair demanded new picture of himself on US Medal.

Revealed, that is, in the edition of Private Eye that came out on Wednesday. By me, and a freelancer with a hitherto unsuspected numismatic bent.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Come on darling, do it for daddy...

Have a look at this rather depressing piece by Jeremy Vine from today's Mail. Note how it's impossible to read without hearing him doing his "and now a, pause, SERIOUS voice" in your head. When you've got that out of your system, go back and look at the pictures.

There's a whole hidden industry in these. Go to any stock picture library and bash a phrase like "child abuse" into the search box (I don't advise doing this anywhere other than a stock picture library - the police don't look kindly on the Pete Townshend defence). You'll find snap after snap of children cowering wretchedly, squatting in nightwear, clutching tattered teddy bears or displaying their tear-stains in NSPCC-standard black and white, every single one of them marked "Model Released" and ready to be slotted neatly into whatever context complete strangers might have in mind for them. And in every case, there was a parent or guardian standing somewhere behind the camera saying "that's it darling! You're doing really well! Now pretend a nasty man's been touching you down there!"

Bearing in mind that this is about four hundred rungs beneath skipping about and grinning gap-toothedly on Britain's Got Talent or trying out for Tiny Tot 2 in Werthers Original: The Revenge, just what the hell sort of a pushy stage-school parent puts their kids through this? And how many trips to Disneyland do you think it takes before their consciences are salved?

Things I would use as a stepping-off point for a whimisical newspaper column, if I had one - No.1

The only reason Charles Darwin, whose bicentenary is currently being celebrated,had so much leisure time to muck about with animals and theories of evolution was because he was an heir to Josiah Wedgewood, whose business has just gone into administration.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Shooting sheep in a barrel

"He is put off, though, when I tell him about my animals; particularly my anecdote about the fact I've trained my three lambs to kiss me on the mouth."

Must, must, MUST stop reading her in 2009... it's like taking the piss out of Geri Halliwell, far too easy.