Picture paints a thousand contacts
Mike Ridley, former features editor of The Sun, may not know much about art – but he now knows what he likes, thanks to a Good Samaritan.
Last month, he experienced one of those appalling head-inhands, stomach-in-boots moments when he left his contacts book, with 28 years’ worth of phone numbers in it, on a train going back to the office of the features and PR agency he now runs near Sevenoaks.
He had no back-up and the book didn’t even have his own name and address in it. It was, as he says, “as if I’d lost my right arm”.
Almost daily visits to the lost property office drew a blank. Then, out of the blue, Ridley received an e-mail, via The Sun, from an art student in Canterbury, called Shem Booth, who had found the book and had spent days trying to find its owner.
Since Ridley had been planning to place local press ads offering a £200 reward for its return, he offered 20-year-old Shem the cash. At first, the student refused. Then, he said: “I tell you what, buy one of my paintings instead!” Shem, a student at Kent Institute of Art and Design, had been discussing with his mates whom the bulging contacts book might belong to.
One pal said: “It could be Tony Blair.” But Shem told him, “No, Tony Blair would never travel on Connex trains!” Ridley said: “I now have my contacts book and an abstract oil painting called The Passage of Time. The painting will hang on my office wall – I grimace at it every day – as a constant reminder to make a duplicate of my contacts book.”
Former supremo of this kennel Philippa Kennedy is finding out first hand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of the press. Her daughter Katy has made it through to the final 50 of Pop Idol.
Katy Pullinger, 23, who will be singing for a place in the last 10 next month, has already made it into OK! and her local paper – the Surrey Herald.
Kennedy said: “It’s fascinating to hear the different approaches of reporters. They certainly did her proud in the Herald.”
Kennedy, who spent seven years on The Sun and 14 on the Daily Express, has already been ticked off by the PR company handling the show for giving the picture to the Herald. “They want to control all the publicity so that everything goes through them. I was firmly put in my place.”
(As one who has been firmly put in place at times by Kennedy, Dog would have paid good money to witness this).
In the run-up, Katy will have to face the nationals. “It’s wall-to-wall coverage on ITV2 and The Sun and the Star are doing it really big. We’re trying to think of a few skeletons in Katy’s cupboard to rattle for the redtops.”
Freelance journalist Gordon Brown is the first to fall foul of a crackdown on mobile phones at council meetings. Copeland Borough mayor George Clements declared in May that anyone whose mobile went off during a meeting would be “fined” a fiver. At a September sitting of the Cumbrian authority, a phone went off in somebody’s bag – causing an outbreak of tutting from everyone, including Brown. It wasn’t until he got home and opened his case that he realised he was the guilty party.
Brown honourably confessed and coughed up his cash for the mayor’s charity, West Cumberland Hospital breast cancer unit.
Dog enjoyed the outbreak of handbags at dawn on the headlinemoney.co.uk website recently.
The Daily Mirror’s Kevan Reilly reviewed the weekend’s papers, reserving some scathing remarks for an “exclusive” story by the Express’s David Andrews. (Sample: “This is pitiably feeble. You just turn away sorrowing.”) Andrews, though, was not going to take the barbs lying down and e-mailed the site with a robust response.
“Perhaps if he spent less time on jollies he might have noticed that the Consumers’ Association does excellent work in putting pressure on indolent and ineffective government so-called watchdogs. If he is concerned about our use of the term ‘exclusive’, I suggest he looks on the front page of the ‘newspaper’ he writes for.
‘Exclusive’ is not a term alien to Mirror subs – a brief glance most days of the week will bear this out.”