Make My Lion Togo


My heart-felt thanks to Steve Dundee for flagging the following piece and puff from the Grauniad. I get hundreds of these dodgy emails and have never been bright enough to come up with the answer to how one should deal with them.

I wish I’d had thought of this.

(I like the fact that Jack Thompson spell ‘His Royal HIGHNEST’ in the correct way):

Neil Forsyth, The Guardian. Friday 22 October 2010

Ever wondered what would happen if you replied to one of those emails that solicit money? Neil Forsyth, in the guise of his online alter ego Bob Servant, did just that…
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From: Jack Thompson

To: Bob Servant

Subject: Delete This At Your Peril

FROM HIS ROYAL HIGHNEST, JACK THOMPSON

Dear sir,

Permit me to inform you of my desire of going into business. I am JACK THOMPSON, only son of late King Arawi of tribal land. My father was a very wealthy traditional ruler, poisoned by his rivals. Before his death here in Togo he told me of a trunk containing $75m kept in a security company. I now seek a foreign partner where I will transfer the proceeds for investment as you advise. I am willing to offer 20% of the sum as a compensation for your effort/input and 5% for any expenses. Thanks and God bless,

JACK THOMPSON

From: Bob Servant

To: Jack Thompson

Good morning your Majesty,

I want 30%, and not a penny less,

Your Servant,

Bob Servant

From: Jack Thompson

To: Bob Servant

Hello Bob,

See these percentages was arranged by the bank and not me. If you insist on getting 30% of the money i have to call the bank. Pls send your: FULL NAME. CONTACT PHONE NUMBER. ACCOUNT NUMBER. COUNTRY/STATE. I will be expecting those details. thanks.

JACK THOMPSON

From: Bob Servant

To: Jack Thompson

Hello Jack,

I’m afraid I just cannot take my share in cash, too dangerous. I could take it in diamonds, gold, or livestock (lions). My neighbour, Frank Theplank, has a private zoo. He is willing to pay $80,000 for every lion I can get him,

Bob

From: Jack Thompson

To: Bob Servant

Hello Bob,

I have made arrangement in transporting the 4 lions to you. So give me your phone number for better communication and bank information,

Thanks,

Jack

image001

From: Bob Servant

To: Jack Thompson

Hi Jack,

I just popped my head over the garden wall and had a word with Frank. He has asked me to pass on a few questions – Are they male or female? Are they in good physical condition? Do they talk? Thank you, my friend, and don’t worry, I have booked in to see the bank manager tomorrow morning,

Bob

From: Jack Thompson

To: Bob Servant

Hello Bob,

Hope fine. Answer to the questions:

1. The lions are all male lions and are very healthy.

2. I don’t think I have ever seen a lion that talks.

I don’t know if you are also interested in leopards cause my friend works in the Government Zoo and he could find a leopard for you? Remember to speak to your bank tomorrow.

Thanks,

Jack

From: Bob Servant

To: Jack Thompson

Jack,

Frank just called, he will take the following – 4 lions, 2 leopards, 1 elephant, 1 alligator, 2 parrots, 1 hedgehog. And, of course, the talking lion? Frank has a good few quid. He’s worked for me on various bits and bobs, and I’ve always looked after him, so I think we should put our necks out on this one and make sure the lions talk.

Bob

From: Jack Thompson

To: Bob Servant

Hello Bob.

I will only be able to get: 4 lions, 2 leopards, 1 alligator. Bob, please send the £1,700 now. I think one of the lions may talk a little. Thanks,

Jack

From: Bob Servant

To: Jack Thompson

Hello Jack,

Sorry about the delay. Frank wants to know a last couple of things – Can he call the lions “FANCY PANTS” and “BRYAN”? Do the leopards sing, and are they willing to wear clothes?

All the best babes,

Bob

From: Jack Thompson

To: Bob Servant

Hello Bob,

As for the lions, you can call them any name provided you shout when talking to them and always use the same name. And trained leopards like the one I have for you will wear any clothes you buy for them OK. Please send the money today,

Jack

From: Bob Servant

To: Jack Thompson

Jack,

I have some bad news, my friend. I have just been to the bank and the guy there said that I cannot send you any money as I do not have any in my account. In actual fact, it turns out that I owe them over eight grand. I’m really sorry, Jack, I hope I haven’t wasted your time, but I’m afraid that the deal is off. Good luck my friend, and good luck with the animals.

Love,

Bob

No reply

Many more examples of this sort of thing at the following link. Check out the Russian Bride emails.  Hilarious stuff.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/oct/23/emails-solicit-money-king-arawi

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Being Screwed in ‘C’ Wing (Read All About It)


It’s probably worth reminding ourselves that the reason there are eight News of The World employees facing charges over phone hacking is that they were shopped, grassed-up or exposed by other journalists. Proper journalists. Not coppers (bent or otherwise) nor Politicians (ditto), or members of the general public, but journalists. This bunch of whistle-blowers happen to have come from The Gaurdian, but they could have come from any number of sources. Because, just as everyone at The Screws wasn’t a crook, then not every newspaper journalist is on the take (whatever the BBC may have you thinking). Not every Grauniad hack will be as white as the driven snow, and there may have been other reasons for exposing the Wapping scandal other than good, honest investigative journalism, but let us not forget that the industry shopped itself, Westminster please note.

You can extend this thought to the fact that it wasn’t only Wapping hacks that were up to no good – just that they are the first to get pinched for it. The reader might like to note that this week PC Plod revealed that two Prison officers had received payments totalling over £50,000 from The Daily Mirror and Daily Star. As mentioned here before, the shredding machines all over Fleet St have been doing overtime whilst the Inspector’s time is taken up with Murdoch titles. Only time will tell if, by the time Sue Akers and her Mukkers get to “M for Mail” or “P for People” in Glenn Mulcaire‘s address book, the evidence has somehow vanished (like an old oak table).

The conversations may well get interesting as the assorted journos in HMP-issue uniforms are locked up for the night by the very people they were throwing cash at for info about their celebrity/muslim/titillating inmates. Retribution may ensue. The News of the Screws has never been a more appropriate nickname for their paper, in so many ways.

I can’t help thinking public would never have given a toss if the enquiry had merely  revealed that the papers had been listening into the phone messages of Elton John or George Michael, going through Hugh Grant’s bins or Jordan’s drawers. That is, after all, why the average knuckle-dragger buys The Sun and The N.O.W- for the gossip stuff that they always seem to get. Fuck actors and sportsmen and singers and the like. They’re not real people. They forfeited their right to privacy the minute they…er…became good at their job (something, thankfully of which I have never been accused).

But to hack into the phone of a little blonde girl who is a possible murder victim ???? Disgusting ! It is a mark of the country’s appetite, class and taste that had the victim not been a little girl, then not only would this intrusion not have registered with the moral code of Joe Public, but the original story would never have made the front pages of the tabloids in the first place. But sadly for Milly Dowler, and latterly Andy Coulson this was not the case. The girl was just the sort of target which his papers and readers salivate about, and the whole sorry saga was somewhat inevitable.

I’ve never bought into the Kelvin McKenzie argument that “papers only print this stuff because that’s what the readers want” but I’m prepared to make an exception in this case. It’d be nice to think that the avid Screws reader realises his own part in this sorry and sordid affair. Nice to think he would, but unlikely to be true, as The Sun on Sunday‘s figures still show. More tits, more bums, more shite, more readers.
Thank god Madeleine McCann wasn’t a 6 ft tall hod carrier from Bridgend – you’d have never heard of the case. News International likes promoting these cases on its covers, and  Maddie’s plight has been thoroughly reported over the years, none more so than by The Screws. The family felt this would do their cause some good, giving them some hope and support to find their little girl. Right up until the paper published mum’s personal diaries for the Editors and the average Wayne and Waynetta to dribble over.

So do I feel and pity for these eight (on the understanding, of course, that they are all completely innocent until proven guilty) and the torrid time the police and prosecution will put them through ? No, not much. Maybe sorry that they’ve been singled out, when there are many, many others around that need their collars felt. But the overwhelming feeling is of relief that the industry ratted-out itself and showed others how it should be done. Just don’t talk to me about a self-regulating Press Complaints Commission. It clearly doesn’t work.

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.

The Harper Seven are Innocent


Makes you feel proud, doesn’t it ? All those wonderful politicians putting party differences aside to gang up on Rupert Murdoch. Oh well, good luck to them with that one, then. Rupe tends to be a bit cute when he’s cornered. My money’s on the brains-trust of Clegg, Cameron and Miniband being outwitted by the Dirty Digger. Again.

But at least they’re trying, right? I mean just who the hell does he think he is ??? Think he can just do what he likes and get away with it. Well there are standards you know, cobber !

Fiddling your expenses, claiming for moat-cleaning, buying porn for your partner, fridges and televisions for your second home, repairing your mock-tudor house at the taxpayers expense, false accounting, ghost mortgages, keeping your gay-lover sweet and secretly-housed with our money THIS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Anyone found guilty of such behaviour would surely be deemed unfit for both office and/or purpose? Go get him, boys !!!

Oh, hang on…I may have got some of that wrong.

Anyway, just a quick pointer on how to (and how not to) behave in front of a parliamentary select committee: This bloke used to be a journalist and was found out to be a naughty boy…

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…while this bloke used to be a copper investigating corruption at News International until he stopped investigating corruption at News International when he took up a very nice offer to become a crime correspondent for…er…News International.

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Wot think?  And the BAFTA goes to…

(apologies to all those expecting a piece on David Beckham‘s daughter. My bent copper has been tardy with the info this week).