Letters to the editor

A fantastic portrayal of Bob Maxwell From: Terry Pattinson Subject:
Plays The one-man play about the late Bob Maxwell (Press Gazette, 28
October)n – Lies Have Been Told – was not the sanitised version I had
expected to see at the New End Theatre in Hampstead, London.

Instead, it is a fantastic portrayal of Cap’n Bob by the brilliant actor Philip York (pictured above).

For
me, it was a personal nightmare, because York brought the old pensions
fraudster back to life, with the help of writer Rod Beacham and
director Alan Dossor.

The story, however, sees Maxwell through
his own eyes and attempts to show that he did not mean to defraud the
pension funds. It was, apparently, the fault of the erratic stock
market… and he would have paid it all back… Next year my own play –
Maxwell – will be performed in Runnymede by Thorpe Players.

Dozens of former Mirror employees and Maxwell Communications Corporation pension victims have written to me asking for tickets.

It
will be interesting to see whether the production team of Lies Have
Been Told and the Maxwell family enjoy my version of the story.

If they like, they can have free seats in the front row.

Terry Pattinson Daily Mirror (1975 – 93)

Highlanders
were sexier than movie From: Chris Buckland Subject: The Decameron Your
obituary for Fergus Cashin (21 October) reminded me of the first time I
met him in El Vinos (where else?) back in the early 70s.

He
stormed in waving a sheaf of copy and cursing that because the Daily
Sketch printers were on strike, the world would never be able to read
his “brilliant” review of the film The Decameron. This had been hyped
as the sexiest movie ever to get past the censors.

I still
remember his intro: “The Decameron? Sexy? I’ve seen more sex on a windy
night when The Decameron Highlanders have been marching down Princess
Street, Edinburgh.”

What a star.

Chris Buckland News of the
World We had first Rick Astley interview From: Pete Magill Subject:
Local singer The squabbling over who was the first to interview Rick
Astley in more than a decade made journalists from his home patch
chuckle.

The Newton-le-Willows crooner gave an interview to his
local paper,the Newton and Golborne Guardian (circ. 1,350) back in
February 2002 to mark the paper’s 80th birthday.

He was tracked
down after tense negotiations with his shadowy manager, Topps, to a
secret location on the continent, by our reporters Alison Klabacher and
Luke Traynor.

Much as I hate to burst Paul Taylor’s bubble – as
one of his former district freelances – Rick even wished us happy
birthday, while reminiscing about some of the Newton venues he played
at back then.

But I suppose in a world where your front page lead
can appear as an exclusive in a regional or national a fortnight later,
an appearance in the old Newton and Golborne “Grauniad”

was probably a figment of our imaginations!

Pete
Magill (former news editor, Warrington Guardian Series 2001/03)n
Standard: We stand by our bird flu story From: Doug Wills Subject:
Professor Dunnill In response to your coverage last week of our bird
flu vaccine splash, I would like to make clear we believe that our
story was accurate and balanced.The story was based upon a number of
sources, only one of whom was Professor Dunnill, and was substantiated
by the research company involved.

The company said the production of the vaccine “could start within days”

of a pandemic strain of flu being identified.

We
stand by the accuracy of the story and in particular the quotes given
to us by Professor Dunnill, including the one that in your report he
denied saying.

Doug Wills Managing editor Evening Standard Local news – now there’s a novel idea!

From:
John Tait Subject: Amalgamating newsrooms Will they ever learn? No, I
don’t think they will. For about the sixth time in my 31-year career as
a hack, that old chestnut of amalgamating newsrooms and pooling subbing
desks makes an unwelcome re-appearance.

After spending hundreds
of thousands on the project, pissing off long-suffering staff and
generally disrupting everything and everyone they possibly can, each
new generation of keen management turks then comes to realise it
doesn’t work and so, usually after about 14 months, it’s back to square
one.

In trying it on yet again in Bristol and Plymouth, Northcliffe Newspapers are adding a new twist to a sorry old tale.

Where do they find these people?

I
see Birmingham’s local evening, the Evening Mail (as was) has hit upon
the novel ruse of winning back readers by carrying local news.

Never! What a spiffing idea. The only question is: why did they abandon local news in the first place?

John Tait, Huyton, Liverpool

I
did more than supply guidelines From: Caren Davies Subject: Editor’s
note I was very surprised to see your editor’s note beneath Andy
Griffee’s letter in Press Gazette (28 October).

In fact, both surprised and disappointed as it is simply not true.

Your
reporter only contacted us for clarification on the BBC’s guidelines
for staff writing columns. As per this request, I sent him the
guidelines, but asked him to come back to me for further information or
any response, which he said he would.

He didn’t.

So to say our response was just to email the guidelines is unfair and untrue.

I
have always had a good relationship with your team at Press Gazette and
have always given responses in a timely fashion, and would have been
pleased to do so on this occasion too.

Caren Davies Press &
PR manager BBC Midlands & East Low pay? It’s a fair cop From: Tom
Mabon Subject: Crime I was intrigued by your nib (28 October) about a
scheme to introduce criminals to journalism.

Given the abysmally
low wages paid in the provinces and the stream of ever more wacky ideas
to cut costs, wouldn’t it make far more sense to introduce journalists
to crime?

Tom Mabon Avoch, Ross-shire Complaints?

Form a
cue From: Henry Taylor Subject: Spelling What’s a “barbeque” (Janice
Turner’s Opinion, 28 October)? Or perhaps she means “barbecue”?

Henry Taylor By email Has the ASA dropped a boob here?

From:
Francis Harvey Subject: Zoo competition ruling Whatever the ethical
rights and wrongs of Zoo magazine’s “Win a Boob Job” competition
(pictured), what on earth has it got to do with the Advertising
Standards Authority? (Press Gazette, 28 October)n Surely the ASA’s role
is purely as an advertising watchdog, not to monitor editorial material.

True,
the ASA could disapprove of an ad alerting potential readers to the
contest. But surely it has no business censuring the actual magazine
itself.

Francis Harvey via email Change approach to ageing From:
Vivienne DuBourdieu Subject: Legislation New legislation in the UK
appears to come down in support of age discrimination, according to
Norman Bartlett, former freelance chairman and honorary treasurer for
the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

He notes: “Originally
framed to permit discrimination against those over 70 it has now,
apparently, been modified to permit discrimination against all those
over pensionable age, i.e. 65.”

As politicians back-pedal on the issue, let’s kick ageism out of the hustings and into the media.

Age-related
rulings are one matter but the kind of small kindnesses and courtesies
that used to make professionals marginally different from ditch diggers
are beyond the ken of many “new journalists”.

Have you ever heard
a man alluding to a colleague’s drift into Alzheimer’s disease because
he wears different coloured socks? Weight gains correlate to waning
energy, greying hair brings menopausal taunts from both sexes, and to
focus overtly on anything other than the next shag is seriously
unfashionable.

If journalists cannot control their most basic
desires when they are on parade, a more equable approach to ageing is
unlikely be broached in either the hustings or the media.

Over
the next decade or so, those who are ageing disgracefully, though not
without some discernment, may be the only ones with the objectivity to
steer the world beyond chaos.

For enquiries about new legislation
on age discrimination: agepositive@dwp.gsi.gov.uk Vivienne DuBourdieu
MCIJ Who cares about lack of experience?

From: Chris Parkinson
Subject: Critics So Brian Sewell is upset. Critics, he bewails, are no
longer steeped in the history of yesteryear, their observations and
critique given full rounded context by all that went before. But who
really cares? Our increasingly grey population for whom reliance on the
“meets, shoots and leaves” generation will increasingly become a
necessity, tuttutting as all around them collapses into “not what it
used to be”

decline?

What know “yuf” of history? What care
they of Shakespeare, Nureyev and Callas? Banksie, Jordan and R’B – now
you’re talking, innit.

Come on Brian; it’s all a glorious
by-product of the unstoppable march of celebrity. There are too many
channels to fill and pages to cover.

But why is this so bad?
Where once stars had an entourage, now even a minor reality TV
discovery has an agent, publicist or manager.

A whole new world
of employment has opened up. This is an emerging new world order – a
world where celebrity is the hopeful foil against the misery that
invades our sitting rooms. It’s harmless, hopeful fun.

So when
soon you’re voting for your favourite on series three of Prats in Shot,
remember they are a building block of the new social and cultural
context for today’s commentators.

And they’re providing employment!

Chris Parkinson Director, London at Large Limited

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