Grey Cardigan: Extract from February's column

SO I’M in the Shivering Whippet for a couple of liveners with one of my predecessors as Editor of the Evening Beast – the last proper boss we had, if truth be told.

I’m moaning at him about a budget meeting I’ve just sat through: the sheer penny-pinching misery of management and the inevitable death by a thousand cuts.

Then there was the 20-minute debate after our managing director, the Eminence Grease, suggested that we should charge some kind of levy on the sandwich van that comes every morning. This is run by one of our former printers who sank his redundancy money into the tiny business. He provides a much-needed service since they shut our canteen down. (I can remember when I used to have a full English brought to my desk after the first edition had gone.) His food is good and well-priced. He’s got four kids … and we’re talking about snatching some of his meagre profits to help our bottom line? The world’s gone mad.

‘You know, Grey,’my ex-boss says, ‘I remember meetings back in the early nineties when we didn’t know what to do with all the money we were making. We had to find cunning ways of hiding it from the shareholders. We were hitting margins of over 30 per cent and were turning advertising away despite constant rate increases.

‘The daft thing is, we all knew that it was going to end. We knew that the internet would eventually take away our ad revenue; that classified would go first, followed by property and sits vac. And yet we did nothing about it. We didn’t plan for the future or invest in innovative content and means of delivery. We just carried on snuffling up the profits like pigs around a trough.”

He paused and put his hand on my knee.

‘Grey, I’m truly sorry.”

Well after that, I really needed something to cheer me up. The opportunity for a small, but satisfying victory came the next morning.

The Eminence Grease, as you might guess, is one of those oleaginous creeps who smarms around semi-important visitors like a human oil slick. He clasps their hands in his as if it was love at first sight and uses their first name in every other sentence. He keeps a database of wives’ and children’s names and it would surprise me if he didn’t personally deliver a bunch of flowers on their birthday. He also makes a point of going out to the front office to welcome then, rather than sending out his secretary.

Today, the Bishop of Beastville was due for morning coffee, so I staged a secret raid on the storeroom used by our Azerbaijani cleaners, waited until the Eminence Grease went out to meet him and then sneaked quickly into the MD’s office.

It gives me some satisfaction to know that when the Bish sat down, he would have been greeted by a well-thumbed and strategically opened copy of Razzle on the coffee table.

 

This is merely part of the February column. For the full version, subscribe to Press Gazette. You can contact me, should you be minded, at thegreycardigan@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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