Axegrinder 29 September 2006

Can Peter lure Paul back to the scene of the crime?

IT WAS, without question, the worst decision Sir Paul McCartney has ever made: agreeing to attend the Daily Mirror's Pride of Britain Awards back in 1999. That is where he met Heather Mills, the woman who today is using her divorce lawyers to claim a large chunk of the Beatle's fortune.

Now I learn that Mirror executive, Peter Willis — the man who introduced the couple — is badgering Macca to join the star-studded audience at this year's awards ceremony, which takes place next month.

Willis, once described by film critic Barry Norman as "the chuckling cove", is still awaiting a response to the invitation.

He is "optimistic", say colleagues.

The smart money says Macca will be staying in and dying his hair come 6 November.

Nelson big on recycling at The Spectator

THE Spectator hit the shelves last week with a "scoop" by Fraser Nelson — which claimed to "out" the octet of advisers in Gordon Brown's inner circle.

Was it quite as fresh as it seemed? Close students of Nelson's output say that the story bore a marked similarity to something he wrote some time ago in the Sunday Business newspaper (overseen by one A. Neil, who also happens to oversee the Speccie).

Perhaps Nelson concluded — not unjustly — that hardly anyone would have seen that…

Will the real Peter Hitchens stand up?

THE MAIL on Sunday's ranting columnist Peter Hitchens — known as "Bonkers" to his chums — has an imposter.

The fake Hitchens is driving the real Hitchens mad by posting plausibly outraged comments under his name on Guido Fawkes' impish blog, which has become a must-read for Westminster's press pack.

Over to Guido, who explains on his site: "One of the most amusing (and irritating) comment-makers on this blog uses the name Peter Hitchens. He writes from a sometimes witty, sometimes demented hard right-wing position. As does the comment-maker.

"The real Peter Hitchens has been in touch to complain. So can the impersonator change his user name, so we can avoid getting into a ‘No, I am Spartacus' bun fight?"

Guido later says: "Peter Hitchens has just emailed from The Mail on Sunday to confirm he really is himself. He thought it all very funny until people began thinking it really was him. Is that clear?"

As a postscript, Guido adds the email from the real Hitchens: "Would the person who is abusing my name on this blog please cease doing so? It seems to me to be unoriginal, dishonest and rather cowardly to hide your own opinions behind the name of somebody else.

"I have written this message because I am beginning to receive messages from people asking if I am connected with the person who calls himself ‘Peter Hitchens' on this blog."

Search is over for the new Mail diarist

WHAT OF the Mail's veteran diarist Peter McKay who (as previously reported here) has told Paul Dacre he's feeling very tired and it's time for him to find a replacement to do his Ephraim Hardcastle column?

The roving-eyed McKay — famed for hiring pretty young things to "help" him on his column — wants to devote more time to polishing his Harley Davidson and finding a replacement for the 28-year-old girlfriend who recently dumped him.

But despite interviewing a stream of would-be diarists, Dacre has realised what the rest of us have known for years — that there is no one on Earth who could replace the superb McKay. Dacre has told McKay he must stay on, helped by another wheelbarrow-full of Associated wonga — McKay already gets around £155,000-a-year. (Ain't life a couple of hundred grand?)

This unfortunately means restaurants in the Kensington area, where McHackey makes lavish use of his expenses, will be treated to more renditions of his tiresome — and repetitive — joke when waiters present him with a PIN machine to take his credit card.

He picks up the machine — pretending it's a mobile phone — cups his hand over it and whispers to his guest "It's the office", before bellowing into it: "I'll be back in a jiffy."

How everyone laughs!

Trinity's lack of People skills

GRIM tidings from The People, as Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey prepares to wield her axe (again).

Sylvia, as she is known to her Mum and Dad, is keen to slash more costs at the Sunday title.

The latest ruse appears to involve the possibility of combining some sports coverage with stablemate the Sunday Mirror.

"She can't understand why both papers need to pay for sports reports from the same match," says one staffer.

Hacks are determined to resist the changes. "There's nothing left to cut," moans one.

"At this rate, we'll have to change our name from The People to The Person."

Rubbing TV into the wound

HERE'S a little something for the regiment of British hacks (led by Paul Field) who went to work for the supermarket rags in the States, but then lost their jobs 20 months later… I learn that a TV production company is going to make a reality telly series focusing on the "sexy" lives of the staff who work at AMI's publications, namely The National Enquirer, Star and Globe. The cameras are due to move into the offices in October.

If your name's not down, Andy

THE TRANQUILITY of the Cheshire Cheese, a short staggering distance from Press Gazette's new offices, is disturbed by a mob of yobs pitching up.

They turn out to be guests for the inauspicious launch of Kelvin MacKenzie's first literary offering, The John Prescott Kama Sutra.

Small sausages and mustard are being handed round.

During the "speeches", Macca announces a forthcoming 300-strong party to celebrate his dotage. He will be 60 and the invitations have already gone out.

"That's nice," pipes Screws editor Andy Coulson, known well in this parish. "Mine hasn't arrived so I'm clearly NFI!" [Not Fucking Invited].

Mack the Penknife has lost none of his wit and shoots back, "Actually, Andy, in your case it was NEFC. Not Even Fucking Considered."

The book, meanwhile, is described thus: "This work presents a modern interpretation of the ancient guide to love-making, from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Prescott MP… Hilarious sex positions and kinky games such as Two Gags, National Yolk and The Bumbachumba will raise more than just a mere smile. Illustrated with amusing cartoons, this really is an entertaining and unique little book."

Mmm.

Blonde Butcher: the bald truth

Michael Butcher, editor of the addictive celeb mag Reveal, is said to be confused after receiving the following email from Ubiquity Comms publicist, Sami McCabe:

Hi Michael, Do blondes really have more fun?

Flirtomatic — the UK's only online and mobile-based flirting service — have devised a unique experiment that will fan the flames of this age-old debate.

"We're looking for a female journalist to create two identical Flirtomatic profiles — identical but for the hair colour. If you're brunette, we'll professionally photoshop an image to give you blonde hair as well (and vice-versa). The two profiles will be uploaded, so Flirtomatic's 145,000 registered members can send you Flirtograms, invite you to chat, rate your flirting technique and send you Supersnogs. It will be fascinating to observe the different responses generated by each profile. Will the blonde Michael get a higher rating than the brunette Michael? As a blonde will you receive saucier approaches than as a brunette? Do you attract different types of guys as a brunette? Which hair colour will generate the most Supersnogs? Please get in touch asap to discuss this idea further.

Butcher is not only male, but also bald.

Wedding due at the Screws?

THIS week's sighting of News of the World reporter James Desborough and Nadia Brooks suggests their romance is about to lead them up the aisle.

Axegrinder receives the message: "Last night my colleague and I spotted James and Nadia looking in the window of Beaverbrooks Jewellers in The Glades, Bromley."

Desborough will be pleased to know that Beaverbrooks website proudly declares: "We understand at Beaverbrooks that asking someone to marry you can be an exciting and worrying time; this is why we offer only the best engagement rings, enabling you to ask that important question without worrying about the engagement ring."

Anne's on the up at Standard

MORE news comes in concerning the relentless quest of the Evening Standard's Anne McElvoy to position her bottom in an editor's chair.

The Standard's features executive Guy Eaton has become Anne's latest victim.

"Anne seems to have elbowed Guy aside and now has a big say in running features," whispers my mole.

How long can Associated's editor-in-chief Paul Dacre continue to allow Anne to languish as the Standard's executive editor?

Here's to you, Mr Robinson

THE OBSERVER will have done little to endear itself to the New Statesman's multi-millionaire owner Geoffrey Robinson.

Under its "I'll see you at…" guide to Labour's conference, the paper said Robinson's booze-up was "still the essential way to kick off conference drinking" on Monday night.

Any thirsty readers heading for Robinson's free bar would have been sorely disappointed. The great man was acting as host on Sunday evening — a full 24 hours earlier.

Hall recalls fighting Ford

THE RECENT death of Hollywood star Glenn Ford last week brought a nostalgic tear to the eye of Candis film critic William Hall, who was film columnist for the London Evening News in its heyday.

Hall recalls interviewing Ford and the star telling him that his two-fisted reputation was a myth. "He was on his way to Australia to do a chat show to promote his new film. ‘I'm a peaceable guy,' he said to me. ‘I just don't get into fights any more.'

"Two days later I saw the front page of The Australian. It showed Glenn Ford being led off the stage, after a public brawl with the chat show host who had said something that offended him."

Hall sums up: "He was a great guy — as long as you stayed on his right side."

Sky's Law isn't on the ball

LEEDS United fans have had a lot to put up with this season, but those watching Soccer Saturday on Sky were made to suffer a bit more at the weekend.

Bryn Law reported from Elland Road that Leeds had gone 3-1 up against Birmingham City

Cue a commercial break.

After the break, presenter Jeff Stelling began: "It's been a terrible few minutes for Leeds United. Five minutes ago they were leading 3-1. Now it's 2-2. How? I'll let Bryn Law explain."

Poor old Law had to own up that he hadn't noticed that the goal had been disallowed, as he was speaking to the camera rather than looking at the pitch when the referee made his decision.

Then from the kick-off, and while Sky was on a commercial break, Birmingham had scored. Hence 3-1 quickly became 2-2.

Fortunately for Law, Leeds went on to score again and win 3-2.

Keep your eye on the ball Bryn.

SPARE a thought for the poor Reuters hack as he struggled to get a security pass for Labour's conference in Manchester at the late accreditation office.

"If you don't give me a pass now, not a word of Tony Blair's speech will go out on Reuters," he pleaded.

The "whatever" look on the bored official's face was a picture to behold, according to fellow hacks who witnessed the spectacle.

Indy prepares to clear decks

"THE OTHER night I was looking for a used, large envelope," writes The Independent's motoring columnist Nigel Pollitt in an email to managing editor Imogen Haddon, "so I did a bit of looking in people's bins and found a couple."

"But I was staggered by the amount of paper that was in the ordinary blue bins.

The Indy is always trumpeting green issues: how about we start at home and instruct cleaners not to empty bins containing paper? I think people would soon get the message that there are recycling bins everywhere."

While Pollitt adopts the softly-softly approach, Haddon, however, has the hard-as-nails strategy.

"Dear all," she has told staff in an all-round email. "We need to clear both editorial floors of all excess rubbish/papers and unwashed mugs/bowls etc. The cleaners will clear away all mugs/bowls/plates which are lying around tonight, so if you have any emotional ties with any of your pottery, clean it now and put it away." Wow.

There's more: "We are also planning to get some extra help in next Wednesday to clear the floors thoroughly of all papers etc. Please start clearing from your desks and surrounding areas now so that we're ready for the final tidy-up next Wednesday." The final tidy-up? That sounds really ominous.

Sick of being the last to know you've been an Axe victim? Bored of having to wait for your turn with the dog-eared office copy? Tired of wondering why colleagues are giggling about your boss? Then get yourself a Press Gazette subscription. Call 01858 438872 or subscribe online.

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