The Grey Cardigan 03.02.06

THE BASTARDS. They’ve turned down my application for voluntary
redundancy and denied me one last big cheque. The reason is unclear,
but I suspect the size of my prospective pay-off may have been a bigger
factor than my flair with fonts.

The whole selection process has
been a farce from the start. We were all apparently subjected to a
“skills matrix” which took note of our ability, punctuality, attitude
and whether or not we wore a shirt and tie to work. These were then
carted off to the glass corner office of The Brute, our foul-mouthed
deputy editor, where they were painstakingly studied before the names
of the damned were regretfully selected.

In reality, he and the
Boy Wonder just used the list of people they’d written down before the
consultancy period even began, settling old scores and indulging in
petty vindictiveness at the same time.

Suddenly the newsroom is
bereft of stationery (pens, envelopes, printer cartridges, staplers,
even paper clips) as all those who are “going freelance” stock up their
home offices. Life isn’t easy on a penny a word, the going rate for
most other publications in this area.

Meanwhile Mungo, our
peripatetic and paralytic Glaswegian sub, has discovered a carbon paper
mountain at the back of the stock cupboard and is smuggling it out at
night in his socks. Quite why, no-one wants to ask.

THE MEDDLING
tossers at the BBC have decided to modernise the Home Service by
dispensing with the UK Theme, the nationalistic medley put together by
Fritz Spiegl that fills five minutes at 5.30am.

Now admittedly
it’s hardly a magical musical experience, but for evening newspaper
journalists due in morning conference at 7am it’s the soundtrack of our
lives. Having spent 25 years being aroused first thing by The Lass of
Richmond Hill, I fear for the production of our newspapers if she’s
replaced by yet another somnolent news bulletin.

Why not just
play the UK Theme at 5.25am instead? I’ll willingly give up five
minutes sleep if it means that the regional newspaper industry staggers
on for a few more years.

THOSE OF us who spend our tea breaks
ridiculing the Daily Express for its curious obsessions – “Diana Fund
Pays Out To Gypsies And Asylum Seekers” being a classic of the genre –
owe editor Peter Hill (right) an abject apology.

Lord Stevens,
heading the inquiry into the death of the Princess of Newspaper Sales,
has surprisingly conceded that some of the issues that Mohammed Fayed
bangs on about “were right to be raised”.

Lawks a mercy! Maybe Prince Philip did it after all.

THE
Daily Mail redesign limps along, many weeks after the halfhearted
tinkering first began. That horrible bold font has settled down, but,
as any designer will tell you, still takes three times as long to read
as any decent light face. (Interestingly, my mole in Derry Street tells
me that it’s called “Truth”, a fact that will delight the Hate Mail
cabal.)

This week saw the sporadic use of a new headline font,
similar to that used by the Sunday Telegraph. It’s nice and clean, but
then some fool went and underscored it on a page lead. Underscores
might have been necessary on an old-fashioned broadsheet with a dozen
stories on the page. I can’t imagine who thinks they’re desirable in a
tabloid with one story on the page.

STILL WITH the Mail, I was stunned by the impudence of a feature headed “Why DOES Janet Street-Porter hate women?”

A clearer case of the pot besmirching the character of the kettle has surely never been seen.

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