Positive Negative


Today’s offering is a blatant lift from my old muckers at her majesty’s The Daily Telegraph. These snaps, taken by the very greatest of Britons, should be saved for the country. It’s scandalous that we cannot raise a couple of quid to keep these in the UK.

Back in the day when I was working at the aforementioned DT all of these photos would have been binned and we’d have used whatever Reuters or The PA had. The picture Editor (no names, no pack-drill) would have given the photographer, R.F.Scott, a bollocking and asked “Is this the best you’ve got?” and asked why he didn’t manage to get a blonde bird in the frame. This was back in the late 80s and the early 90s, the birth of myopic photo-journalism. The Back Bench would have hidden them as a 2 column or a thumbnail on the basement of page 19, or “saved” them as a “Sunday for Monday” an old euphamism for never considering them again) .

YOUNG WOMAN WEARS DRESS would have been the front page headline accompanied by a young-ish woman on the red carpet of some awards ceremony wearing a…er…dress. It’s what passes for news nowadays and the DT was the pioneer of such thinking. And they called themselves a “quality” “broadsheet”. Honest. They probably still do.   Whatever they’ll tell you now, they wouldn’t have used these polar pics properly, if at all (some of these butchers and know-nothings are still around and, staggeringly, gainfully employed today — see David Lucas on The Standard). So it’s rather amusing, ironic, even comforting to see the Telegraph come to the rescue of proper photography, years after having been its assailant. (I don’t sound too bitter do I ?)

Please forward this to that rich bloke you know and tell him to give generously. For my part, I am going through The Incumbent’s drawers  in search of hidden treasures.

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The Battle to Save Scott of the Antarctic’s Lost Pictures

Jasper Copping
The Daily Telegraph

Unseen images of Scott of the Antarctic’s doomed final expedition could be lost to the nation after their mystery owner gave Cambridge University until the end of the month to raise £275,000 to buy them.

If the funds are not in place by March 25, the photographic negatives are due to go for auction, where it is expected they will be purchased by a private collector from overseas.

The images were taken towards the end of 1911, as Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s team embarked on its ill-fated trek towards the South Pole, just weeks before it ran into disaster.

The 113 negatives had been thought lost until, more than a century on from the expedition, they have emerged, in private hands. The owner – whose identity has not been disclosed – has approached the Scott Polar Research Institute – part of the University of Cambridge – offering it first refusal.

However, the department has currently only raised about a fifth of the £275,000 purchase price that it must reach before March 25.

British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13: Foundering in soft snow. (left to right) Cherry-Garrard, Bowers, Keohane, Crean, Wilson, Beardmore Glacier, 13 December 1911 (Robert Falcon Scott/ Scott Polar Research Institute)

British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13: Foundering in soft snow. (left to right) Cherry-Garrard, Bowers, Keohane, Crean, Wilson, Beardmore Glacier, 13 December 1911 (Robert Falcon Scott/ Scott Polar Research Institute)

“The negatives are a key component of the expedition’s material legacy as an object and as a collection in themselves.”

However, the nature of the sale, and the deadline, has raised some eyebrows. John Mann, the Labour MP and a member of the all party parliamentary group on the Polar Regions, suggested it was “unseemly”.

“This is a very important part of our heritage and our history and the British spirit. I would call it living history, as it still inspires people to explore.

“We should do whatever we can to get them into the public domain. If I owned them, I would feel obliged to donate them to the nation. Selling off the nation’s history like this is a bit unseemly.

“There is a national interest here. If it was me, I would rather a plaque to acknowledge the donation.”

If successful, the Institute will display the negatives at its Polar Museum, in Cambridge, where it already holds prints of some of the photographs, as well as the camera on which they were taken. Nine of the negatives, however, have never been seen before.

The photographs were brought for the nation in 2012, when the Institute purchased them for around £750,000 from a London-based book dealer, with help a £704,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The negatives are owned by a separate vendor who has already agreed to extend the deadline once – from March 2 – to allow the institute to apply for grants from organisations.

The owner approached the organisation to offer the items for sale, but has requested that they remain anonymous. It is known not to be a relative of any of the expedition members involved.

Sir Ranulph added: “Unlike a print, of which any number can be made, the negatives are unique and would be a huge asset to the Institute.”

Julian Dowdeswell, director of the Institute, said: “There has been an extraordinarily generous response to the appeal, proving how important Scott remains in the national imagination. Every donation, however small, brings us closer to reaching our goal of £275,000. With this new extension, I am confident we can raise the remaining funds to acquire the negatives.”

The institute itself was founded with money left over from the fund for the widows and orphans of Scott and his four companions, who died on the expedition.

The negatives, taken between September to December 1911, are a record of Scott’s earliest attempts at photography through to his later images of his team on their journey towards the pole.

Scott’s ship, Terra Nova, had left Cardiff in June 1910, and travelled to the Antarctic via South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Following a period of preparatory work, as well scientific research – and aware of a rival bid by Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen – Scott started out for the Pole in late October 1911.

British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13: Ponies on the march, Great Ice Barrier, 2 December 1911 (Robert Falcon Scott/ Scott Polar Research Institute)

British Antarctic Expedition 1910-13: Ponies on the march, Great Ice Barrier, 2 December 1911 (Robert Falcon Scott/ Scott Polar Research Institute)

His team was equipped with mechanical sledges, ponies and dogs. However, the sledges and ponies could not cope with the conditions and the expedition carried on without them, through appalling weather and increasingly tough terrain.

Around half of the negatives chronicle this period, until December 22, when the dog teams were sent back, taking the negatives with them.

By January 1912, only five of the team remained: Scott, Edward Wilson, Lawrence “Titus” Oates, Henry Bowers and Edgar Evans.

They reached the pole on 17 January 1912 to discover that Amundsen had beaten them by 33 days. They set off on the 930 mile return journey, but ran into exceptionally bad weather and sledging conditions.

Evans was the first to die, on February 17. Oates followed on 16 March – walking out of the tent in a blizzard as he knew he was holding up his companions. Scott himself died with Bowers and Wilson in late March 1912, laid up by a blizzard 11 miles short of a pre-arranged supply depot.

During the last days, Scott kept up his journal, wrote twelve letters to friends, family, and next of kin and left a message for the public explaining his reasons for the failure of the expedition.

Eight months later, a search party found the ten and the bodies and Scott’s diary. The bodies were buried under the tent, with a cairn of ice and snow to mark the spot. News of the deaths did not reach Britain until early 1913.

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I’ve Seen Better Batters in a Fish & Chip Shop **


There are very few continents on which I haven’t made a complete arse of myself playing cricket (or otherwise). For instance, back in 2000 I collapsed with heat exhaustion (or alcohol dehydration and poisoning—depending on which ‘expert’ you listen to) on the Third Man boundary at a ground in St Lucia, West Indies. Three men had to carry me off the field of play to a nearby shady spot where I was doused in cool water and cooler Red Stripe. I took no further part in the match;

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A Team Photo in Oman, 2009. Squad moral wasn’t always what it could have been following one of my more imaginative bowling spells. Pic taken the day after the local hosepipe ban was lifted.

In Nairobi, Kenya, suffering from lack of oxygen because of the high altitude (or from alcohol dehydration and poisoning—depending on which ‘expert’ you listen to) I momentarily lost my sight and lost all sense of direction. Instead of charging towards the batsman to deliver the fifth ball of my first over, I charged towards the square leg umpire who turned on his heels and fled, fearing that he’d be run over by this fat pink bloke approaching. I took no further part in the match;

In Adelaide my fearsome bowling was hit hit so hard and so often by a bloke who usually batted at no.11 for his club side, that a box of new balls had to be ordered, as no-one wanted to go into the spider/snake-infested bush beyond the boundary to find the three new red cherries which he’d deposited there. The bloke I’d put on the boundary to catch him ricked his neck watching the balls soaring fifteen foot over his head;

In Sri Lanka while playing at a local Prison, I tore a muscle/got cramp (depending on…) in my calf in the third stride into the run-up OF MY VERY FIRST BALL. Probably the heat or something. I took no further part in the match.

But on this morning of all mornings, when the world holds its knickers in anticipation of the start of another Engand vrs Australia Ashes series, and because I’m so excited about it I can barely walk, I thought I’d flick through the old photo album and share with you a few lolights of my once-unpromising career. Less Ashes Urns, more Ashtrays and Beer Bottles.

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1992, The Daily Telegraph, vrs Devises Police Training School, Wilts. L-R (back row) R Shrimsley, R Savill, D Sapsted, T Butcher, M Smith, K Maguire, P Sherwell. Front row: P Stokes, N Bunyan, B Fenton, The Author, C Randall. Several of the above young journos went on to great careers in newspapers, magazines, TV, PR and literature. Some didn’t. No scorecards survive for this match. So I think we must have won it.

 

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This is not a still photo of me bowling, it’s video footage, replayed at actual speed (and no, it’s not your poor broadband connection). The hallmark grimace is already developing.  Somewhere in England in the early 1990’s. The umpire’s moustache may indicate the Liverpool area. The bails were later stolen.

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A rabbit in the headlights.  Stowe School, England 1988. Daily Telegraph Gentlemen vrs Players Cricket match (can’t remember which side I was on.) Christopher Martin Jenkins (pick that name up for me please, Deirde) and I had a nice chat as we walked around the boundary. He told me that he doubted if I would never make a club cricketer. Which was nice. And he’d hadn’t even seen me bat yet.

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The Author, on tour in Dubai, and on the eve of a possible Test call-up, receives a good length ball on his off stump, attempts to hook it over square leg for six, and can only watch as the ball clatters into his castle.  The keen-eyed will realise how slow the delivery must have been. Few batsmen are lucky enough to get the time to look behind them before the ball hits the wicket. (There is a version of this photo where I have photoshopped-out the ball. I look magnificent.)

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A terrifying sight for any batsman. Or, indeed, for anyone. The four-pronged pace attack of The Fleet Street Exiles XI, take a well-earned paddle in the sea between humiliating defeats, Galle, Sri Lanka 2002. Please note : for once I am neither the fattest, nor the oldest in this photo. Just the shortest. (Also very pleased to see that I kept my purse with me at all times.)

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The Author stops for a prayer and a swift large rum before going into bat in Antigua. West Indies, 2000. Here we see him trying to come up with a name for an idea he’s had for an irregular column on the internet.

**The phrase directed at me by the home wicket keeper as I took guard in my first ever match on foreign soil. Melbourne, Australia, 1998 (ish). The sad thing about it is that he was probably telling the truth.

Middle and Leg, Please.


Many congratulations to Mr Willie Eckerslike of Staines for the winning entry to the recent caption competition. For his winning effort of “If they go above my head, can they be called wide ?”) Mr Eckerslike wins for himself a pair of Anti-Pervert Hairy stockings (as reported by The Daily Telegraph), Several plastic OBEs, a drip-dry statue of Jane Mansfield and a ticket to Hampstead Fairground.

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And now, as it’s that time of year again when the English, traditionally, exit a major tournament, here are some random cricket images:

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The Australian Touring Party to England 2013. Not sure who the geezer front right is, don’t think he made the trip. The two fellas wearing the pink scarves are currently in the nets, awaiting confirmation of Australian citizenship. ACB hope they’ll be available by the Third Test. (D.A.Warner is out of shot, beating up the co-pilot.)

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M.A.Holding hears that no-one’s switched on the urn in the pavilion.

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England’s crack Formation Ball-Tampering Display Team

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Shane Warne finds a new career

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England’s current World-Class Cricketers. And Stuart Broad.

It Goes Everywhere, Involves Everyone.


Welcome back. And if you’ve just joined us, a quick recap the main points of the news again:

2008- to date: Bankers and the city bring down world-economy, selling toxic mortgages, mis-selling insurance; fiddling PPI; awarded huge bonuses for failure while ordinary citizens went bust; laundering money for pariah states, fixing lending rates etc etc: As yet, not a single solitary Banker (bangster?), not one person has ben charged with anything, though the PM says they face “serious questions”. Oooh, nasty.

At the time of publication one man – a former UBS trader who stole from the banks (as opposed to them stealing from us) is appearing at Southwark Crown Court. They don’t like people stealing from them, do they ? Stealing from customers is nothing to faces charges over, on the other hand.

May 2009: MPs expenses: The Daily Telegraph exposes parliamentarians of claiming for Moats, Duck houses, Electrical goods, family members salaries, second homes, flats/jobs for the boys/lovers. MPs vigorously tried but ultimately failed to stop publication of information via the Freedom of Information Act. 3 MPs convicted (subsequently a judge lets them off paying legal costs, bless him).

Police told to open inquiry into corruption during the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. 19 years after which, just 2 men are convicted in 2012. As yet, no Police officers have been convicted of any misdoing.

2011:- Operations Elvedon and Weeting (investigation payments from Journalists to Police Officers and other public officials) 47 arrests at time of writing, including journalists secretaries and “legal advisors” from News International, hacks from the Sun, the Mirror and the Star.

2011:- Operation Tuleta instigated (investigation into phone hacking by journalists)  to run along side the other inquiries into the behaviour of journalists. 13 arrests as we speak.

Leveson Inquiry into the “culture, practices and ethics” of the British press. (good luck with that one then) opens. Scores of TV celebs, politicians, sportsmen, film stars and ‘ordinary’ people give evidence of being hounded, abused and wrongly accused by the press. Rupert Murdoch is hauled in front of the beak and the cameras. His son shows the world what a buffoon he is (before taking the getaway jet to The States): Report expected in November.

July 2012: A police officer was cleared of killing newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson who died after a G20 protest in the City. PC Simon Harwood was found not guilty of unlawfully causing death in the course of his duties after he was filmed during the G20 protests clearly striking Mr Tomlinson in the back of the leg and pushing him to the ground.

September 2012: The Hillsborough Disaster Independent Panel Inquiry Publishes findings. After numerous governments have ignored the subject, David Cameron reads the findings of the public inquiry, and immediately apologises in the House of Commons to the families of the victims, thus making him possibly the only one of 2 politicians (sitting or otherwise) to emerge from the saga with any credit  at all.

The then Prime Minister  in 1989 (I forget her name – as does she) was told how appallingly the Police had acted on the day of the slaughter and throughout the subsequent inquiry. She chose to ignore this, as did Tory and Labour governments after her). Only when Labour’s Andy Burnham, an Evertonian put in place an independent inquiry did the process start in earnest.

Questions are directed at the Football Association, the Football Club and Sheffield City Council for the fact that the ground did not have a valid safety certificate.

The media have to hunt down former Sun Editor Kelvin MacKenzie before he finally apologises for the newspaper’s coverage of the events – blaming drunk, thieving Liverpool fans for their own deaths. The current Editor of the Sun, Dominic Someone, also says sorry. (It’s not been a great year for The Current Bun).

The MP for Sheffield Hallam in 1989, Sir Irvine Patnick, was identified by the Hillsborough Independent Panel as one of the main sources for these inaccurate stories in the press that sought to blame Liverpool fans for the deaths of 96 people. He admits his error/lies but remains at liberty.

Senior lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) were handed detailed analysis of the police cover-up of the Hillsborough disaster 14 years ago but decided to take no action against any officers involved, reports The Independent newspaper.

Former (Labour) Home Sec, Jack Straw, on BBC expressed regret that a review of the Hillsborough disaster he ordered in 1997 failed to “get to the bottom” of what happened or expose the police cover-up. A small understatement, and half-hearted effort even by Straw’s standards.

Report shows 116 police statements were altered/”amended” so as to conceal the actions of the South Yorkshire Constabulary that day. Ambulances were held back from the scene. Medical reports find that 41 victims could have survived had the emergency services showed up. The coroner at the time ordered that all of the deceased – adults and children alike – should be tested for alcohol in their blood – in an attempt to perpetuate the “drunk fan” theory. That Coroner is still walking around a free man.

It is revealed that the police ran checks on all the dead, to see if any had criminal records – another attempt to tarnish the reputations of the deceased.  On the BBC on the day of the release of the inquiry’s findings, officers serving that day at Hillsborough were queuing up to vent their anger over the fact their statements had been changed by ‘person or persons unknown’, presumably higher management within the force.

It is self-evident that the cover-up was ordered, organized and carried out by senior serving members of the Yorkshire Police. Aided and abetted by who else is, as yet, unknown. There will always be questions, however that in 23 years, how is it that not one single rank and file member of either the Ambulance or Police Service came forward to “whistle blow” ?

When the shocking facts were released, (and not one revelation denied), Sir Norman Bettison, the most senior serving police officer who was involved with South Yorkshire Police‘s discredited Hillsborough operation, said of the revelations that he had “nothing to hide”. 2 days later, he was forced by sheer weight of numbers against him to apologise.

Bit by bit, one by one, the apologists for the Police, the Press, the Bankers the Government, the racists, the bigots go silent.

We really are All in it Together

Olympics for Dummies


I’m gonna take the incumbent out for a drink tonight, down to The Shovel (I may have mentioned it before.) But here’s a problem:  Although it’s not a very big pub, sometimes it’s very quiet, due to it being half empty. There are certain evenings when the Great British “Summer” doesn’t serve up the weather conducive to walking down to the boozer for a nice warm pint, leaving half-a-dozen or so of us to fend for ourselves, to create a buzz, and make an atmosphere.

What to do ….? hmmm….

I know ! Thanks to The Telegraph today, I know just what I’ll do:

I’m gonna pack a spare cardie, a pair of moleskin troos and me wellies. I’ll keep popping in-and-out of the loo, changing my clothes as I go. No-one will ever know. If I can persuade The Incumbent to put a spare frock in the bag, we can have a four-handed game of cards. THE PLACE WILL LOOK PACKED TO THE GUNWHALES !!!! What fun ! You can say what you like about that Seb Coe bloke, but he comes up with stuff that no-one would ever dream of.

I hear talk that we are to enter two donkey jackets, a pin-stripe suit and a set of overalls into the marathon to make up the numbers. Jacques Rogge need never know ( he’ll be too busy counting his money anyway).

Nice to see that Boris got down of that wire .

How to Cock Up Like Hester


“There was a period of remorse and apology for banks and I think that period needs to be over…I really resent the fact that you refer to this as blackjack or casino banking or rogue trading,” Barclays’ Diamond Bob goes on the attack at the Treasury Select Committee, 11th Jan 2012

“The reports in the media this morning are both inaccurate and premature.” RBS denies reports of £1m-plus bonus Stephen Hester, 18th Jan 2012

(SKY NEWS) Stephen Hester is to get a bonus of almost £1m, a figure which has drawn criticism of pay deals at the taxpayer-funded institution. Stephen Hester is to get 3.6 million shares in the bank worth £963,000, along with a salary of £1.2m. RBS group chairman Sir Philip Hampton said the company was “aware of the difficulties in trying to reconcile the competing objectives of all our stakeholders”, especially on pay. RBS doesn’t deny reports of £1m-plus bonus Stephen Hester, 27th Jan 2012

“We’re well on the road to recovery. Fingers crossed all the bugs have been got out but we feel a corner has been turned…things back to normal by early next week.” RBS Stephen Hester on the, still to be fixed IT problems which has seen millions of customers’ accounts frozen. 27th June 2012
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“Barclays chief executive Bob Diamond has admitted for the first time that the bank made a conscious decision to falsify Libor rates in order to protect the bank at the height of the financial crisis.” Left-wing tabloid rag The Daily Telegraph cranks up the pressure on Diamond Bob over his knowledge of dodgy deals within Barclays. June 28th 2012

“Barclays boss Bob Diamond says he will not resign.” Shock news in a BBC headline, June 29th 2012.

“Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds have been accused of systematically rigging financial markets in a growing international scandal which wiped billions off the value of shares in Britain’s biggest banks.” The Daily Telegraph with more good news for RBS fans and customers. June 29th 2012

Stephen Hester admits to stealing from his own granny, murdering Lady Diana, selling dodgy Olympic Tickets and starting the Second World War. Diamond Bob admits to shooting, butchering and eating Shergar. Both men say they are “determined to ride out the storm” The Sharp Single, June 31st 2012.

Sir, The Gentlemen of the Press are Here


The British, or to be more precise, the British Press, or to be more precise, the English Press don’t like Sepp Blatter, though they’re not exactly alone on that one. They think he takes bungs, fixes elections, is anti-English. Fresh from the “row” about whether the English football team could wear poppies on Remembrance Sunday, and following his insightful views on women’s football (“Let the women play in more feminine clothes like they do in volleyball. They could have tighter shorts.”), match fixing (“I could understand it if it had happened in Africa, but not in Italy.”) and homosexuals (“I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities.”) there has been a torrent of outraged copy spewing out of Fleet Street regarding Blatter’s latest decree. The head of FIFA has opined that racism on the pitch should be forgotten with a handshake after the match. A ridiculous opinion indeed, but what a godsend for the hacks of the press ? Immediately headlines such as “Now Beckham and Cameron slam Sepp Blatter over racism in football” (Daily Mail) and Blatter Must Go” (The Sun) have ploughed into nasty Sepp in exactly the way they…er…didn’t attack John Terry when he was filmed calling Anton Ferdinand a f**king black c*nt”.

Exactly the same organs demanding the hated Blatter’s resignation are the ones not calling for Terry to go:  “Terry vows to clear his name in race storm” (Daily Mail) and “Terry is Gagging for Action with England” (Sun). That’s telling him ! Strong stuff, indeed.  The Blatter affair has saved the tabloids from having to chastise the serial-shagging Terry and focus their sights on nasty foreigner Sepp. There’s something quite ironic the Mail labeling someone a racist. But that’s another yarn for another day.

This latest case of double standards pales into insignificance compared to the coverage of the official inquiry into the workings of the press. When not attacking Johnny Foreigner, there’s nothing journalists like better than writing about other journalists. Journos think we, (or rather you) are, like them, equally infatuated with journalism and stories about it. This obsession with their own trade and fellow hacks more often than not supersedes any other story that may drop on their desks. And nothing, NOTHING excites a hack more than when other hacks are deemed to be up Shitestraße, a condition currently afflicting my old colleagues at News International. You may have noticed the absolute glee with which other media outlets have been reporting the phone hacking scandal.  The Guardian clearly has an axe to grind with the Murdoch press and are loving every second of the coverage. The BBC are visibly beside themselves. But they all should be very careful, I reckon.

One can only assume that the thus-far unquestioned members of the press have nothing to hide. Either that or they realise that Inspector Knacker is taking so long over the News of the World and associates, that by the time the law gets round to them the shredders will have been doing overtime and their friendly private eyes will have been shooed out the back door, taking a large wad of cash with them. All evidence of naughtiness will be long gone by the time the rozzers arrive at their door.

Wherever I worked, there was always a deeply held belief in the mantra “there but for the grace of god go I”. The Mail put in the wrong picture ? Poor sods – someone’s due for a kicking. Headline in The Times got a typo in it? Jesus, someone’s for it. We just knew that, sooner or later we’d drop a clanger and it would be our turn to be hauled over the coals. There was always a bunch of annoying hacks giggling about and reveling in the misfortune and the mistakes of other rags, but us photo bods knew better than to behave like that. We’d been there too often to carp.

But the recent events at the NoW are not the result of honest mistakes, no matter what Herr Flick says. This isn’t a case of mistakenly putting a pic of a boy from the wrong school in the paper (guilty as charged- Eton instead of Harrow) or putting a photo in upside down (property page – also guilty, your honour) or accidentally being pissed most afternoons (Happy Days. Oh fuck it, ok, I’d like 173 other offences taken into account). No we’re talking serious, intentionally-undertaken crimes here. As much as we’d like to think that this sort of behaviour was confined to Fortress Wapping, I think we all know that that’s unlikely. If I was the rest of Fleet St, I’d treat the phone hacking story with due reverence and respect. These things have a nasty habit of turning around and biting you on the arse, just when you’re gloating about them.

It only surprises me that all this seems to have come as a shock to most people. How the hell did they think the tabloids (and those pretending not to be tabloids) got their information from ? Through honest journalism ? Concerned readers offering exclusives to those nice gentlemen of the press ? Above-the-table briefings by policemen to reporters?

What will hang Fleet St is the same that has kept the UK tabs thriving for so many years: The ability (thru piles of cash) and the willingness (thru the unique competitiveness of the Street) to work outside the law to obtain ‘scoops’. The Scews was not the most read rag in the world for no reason. It delivered all the tawdry and ugly stories that the British public craved after. Whether the public demand for such shite is reason enough to go get these stories is a moot point. However, they spent fortunes hunting down these yarns, keeping them from the notebooks of their competitors, out-bidding anyone else that showed an interest. So many competing national papers in one small county propagates such a frenzied pursuit of higher readership figures.

The sort of pressures between titles, almost unique to London’s papers, made it almost inevitable that one day they’d go too far in their quest for the best story. What “too far” actually meant was open for debate for a long time. Apparently, if you happened to be successful and obtained celebrity through your work, reporters sneaking around your bins and eavesdropping on your private conversations was truly shocking, but frightfully readable, and understandable.  Gordon Taylor, (“that’s rotten, got any more?”) Elton John (“awful! what else ?”), Hugh Grant (“terrible! love it”). Then the manure hit the air-conditioning system. The Milly Dowler episode clearly was “too far”. Even the well-kept coppers, some of whom passed on vital info to the newspaper,  now displayed the sort of outrage and indignation a guilty party will often show. The mucky business was rife. Everyone knew it, but somehow no-one now admits they did.

A while back I was asked for a colleague’s mobile phone number. This colleague was a reporter who happened to be vaguely connected to someone famous who happened to be in the news at the time. The reporter who asked me for this number had gotten my number from a friend. I gave him a “fuck right off” for his trouble. This reporter was not working for the News of the World. He must have been another “lone rogue reporter” (there’s a lot of them about). I don’t know why he wanted the number. I just had a good idea why he wanted it. He was (and still is) a dodgy, slimy cvnt. I wasn’t playing his game.

Not that I am suggesting that the Mail, Mirror, Express, Guardian etc etc have anything to worry about. This is clearly only an issue which needs to be addressed over at Wapping and Wapping alone.

Nowhere else.

At all.

There’s nothing new here. You’d think that this distaste for and distrust of the press was a new thing. Don’t be fooled. In 1959 Peter Sellers, in “The Goons” episode The Scarlet Capsule had the line:

“Sir, the gentlemen of the press are here. I tried to hold ’em back, but they burst through by putting money in me hands”.

It could have been written yesterday.

…and there’s more…

Back in 1987 Jim Hacker was certainly under no illusions about the newspapers of London – or at least who they were read by.

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Over 20 years later, comedians Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt updated it. Not much has changed. Apart from the addition to the list of The Independent and the fact that the Express and the Star are now recognised as newspapers – if that is the right word:
The Times is read by the people who run the country.
The Telegraph is read by the people think they run the country.
The Guardian is read by the people who have run the country for the past 12 years and realised they’re blown it.
The Independent is read by people who got to the newsagents after they’d run out of The Guardian and The Times.
The Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country.
The Express is read by Marcus Brigstocke to wind himself up.
The Mirror is read by the people who vote for the people who read the Guardian and have now blown it.
The Sun is read people who’ll vote for people who’ll run the country to suit the people who read the Financial Times while somehow convincing themselves that those people will give a toss about the people who buy The Sun the moment the election’s over.
And The Star is read very … slowly … with your lips moving.