More Axegrinder 21.07.06

Telegraph's Alexander gets the boot

Axegrinder takes up papping for a weekend, and this is the result… The Telegraph's esteemed fashion director, Hilary Alexander, having to share a journey in the boot of a car with a couple of dogs (right).

She was "snatched" as she pulled up in a petrol station on the A303, returning from a day at the Rundle Cup polo tournament in Wiltshire last Saturday.

Alexander's driver was Jeremy Hackett, the man behind the eponymously-named clothes shops. This snap would never have been possible had kindhearted Hackett not opened the boot to supply the fashion writer and dogs with air and water.

Try not to spoil the morning suit, Brian

Can you hear wedding bells? After years of living together, highly witty Mirror columnist Brian Reade and Times writer Carol Midgley have decided to get married. The nuptials will not take place for a couple of months, but the stomachlining process should begin now.

Brian once told me the secret of his success: "Three wanks before noon." Or was it four?

Anyway, it's another line for the groom's speech, should he want to give wedding guests an insight into the life of Brian.

Telegraph staff show support for Darbyshire

Several Telegraph old-timers are furious about the downgrading of Neil Darbyshire, whose job as deputy editor of The Daily Telegraph has been given to "managerial bore" Ian MacGregor of the Evening Standard.

Axegrinder hears of at least one toplevel Telegraph columnist who is so angry about Darbyshire's treatment that he intends to leave the paper in protest.

And still the mistreatment of Darbyshire continues. Because MacGregor is not being allowed to leave the Standard immediately Darbyshire has been told that he has to edit the Telegraph for the next few Sundays and for the first two weeks of August when everyone else is away on holiday.

Kim's guide to inspiring fear and loathing

Over at the Daily Star, Hot reporter Kim Dawson (Joe Mott's deputy) certainly knows how to win people over.

Not. Complaining that her free CD collection was once the size of Michelle McManus, but has now shrunk to Nicole Ritchie, she has accused all and sundry of nicking her rubbish pop tunes.

This has not gone down well.

Meanwhile, one boy band she so keenly writes about is becoming increasingly scared of her overwhelming interest in him. "Harry from McFly is petrified of her," I am told.

Hx's hunt for More's email snitcher

More! mag's real-life editor Helen Roberts (aka Hx) is keen to track down the source of her email which was published in this column last week.

You'll recall that she emailed agencies asking for "a REALLY STRONG picture-led piece or a story of a girl who was raped while she was on holiday". Preferably in Ibiza.

Hx promised to "pay well and as usual the girl will look fab in one of our great photo shoots".

Axegrinder is confident the source of this disgraceful leak will step forward any minute now.

Hope you don't mind me contacting you. I was wondering if you could help me. There's a small piece about me in today's Press Gazette talking about an email I sent round asking for certain stories. I'd really like to know which freelancer/agency sent that over to you guys. I think it's important for future relations with all the freelancers/agencies I use. I send emails like that quite often so it'd be good to know who's offended by them. I'd really appreciate it if you could help out.


Helen Roberts, Real-life Editor, More

Confessions of a theatre critic

Telegraph theatre critic Charlie Spencer told his readers more than they may have wanted on Monday morning, disclosing that he lost his virginity in 1973 (he happened to be reviewing a 1973 Alan Bennett play) and that when he saw the play in Bath last week he was sitting next to the very person to whom he lost that virginity.

Readers of Nicholas de Jongh wonder if their man will now follow suit? The venerable Evening Standard critic's byline snap has been the object of much merry mockery in this column of late. Will he tell us how he lost his virginity in the year of, say, Noel Coward's Hay Fever? Or maybe The Mousetrap?

Thompson fails to keep on top of his mail

BBC director general Mark Thompson put his foot in it with a Labour MP during his appearance in Westminster last week. Thompson was being assailed by MP Mike Hall about a BBC programme called The Secret Policeman, which, in Hall's words, used "criminal elements" in its production.

"If you'd care to write to me about it," Thompson told the whingeing MP.

Hall (steam shooting from his ears): "I did write to you! I had an extensive correspondence with you!"

Grice not so nice to New Labour now

Fascinating to see The Indy's political editor Andy Grice appearing on TV last week giving both barrels to Tony Blair and his Government, in line with his newspaper's front-page story about the distance between the PM's ambitions for his Government to be "whiter than white" and the reality.

Could this, by any chance, be the same Andy Grice who, as political editor of The Sunday Times, did so much for New Labour?

Every Friday, before he defected to the daily Independent, after other Sunday lobby hacks had attended, for form's sake, the perfunctory lobby briefing at Number 10, Grice used to double back to Downing Street to be given his orders (sorry, favoured with a solo briefing) by Peter Mandelson, then a minister in the Cabinet Office.

It was from this relationship that, on the day in August 1997 when every Sunday newspaper was following up the News of the World's exclusive on Robin Cook's affair with his secretary, Grice instead wrote on the paper's front page that Chris Patten was facing prosecution under the Official Secrets Act. It was a transparent attempt by Labour to divert attention.

Lord Patten has yet to be charged, but Cook married his secretary.

You didn't hear it from Axe, but…

Meanshile, James Desborough of the News of the World has gone all starryeyed over Nadia Brooks, who used to work at the Daily Star and The People, but is now freelance.

Neither really drinks, and both are very, very protective of their private lives so it's another one of those morsels which you should keep quiet.

Eye bash query

A question for the Barclay twins, Sir Dave and Sir Fred, to ask the Telegraph's acting editor John Bryant: "How was the Private Eye lunch last week?"

Standard Sky no good for blogger Davies

The pompous Simon Davies, features editor of the Standard, is looking even more haughty than usual.

His smugness, I am told, follows a recent dinner party at which he found himself seated next to Lis Murdoch, daughter of Ru.

Davies told his well-connected companion that he lives in Stretton-on-Fosse, in the depths of the Gloucestershire countryside, and that because he "is in the middle of nowhere" he can't get Sky.

His attempts to bore Ms Murdoch into submission clearly did the trick.

The following day a Sky van pulled up outside Davies's home and a pub sign (as Sky dishes are known in this parish) was installed on the side of his house.

Davies, who is always trying to blag freebies, is particularly proud of this one.

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