The Grey Cardigan: 24 November 2006

I TRY not to shout at the telly. But on Sunday night, having just turned over from watching the antics of former BBC newsreader Jan Leeming on I'm A Celebrity…, I was faced with another joker on the Ten O'Clock News.

Step forward, Rita Chakrabarti, pointlessly plonked outside Downing Street on a wet and windy evening to report on Lord Goldsmith's attitude to Mr Blah's desire for a 90-day detention period for dodgy darkies.

First shouty point: Why was she there? What was the point of employing an expensive OB unit for a meaningless broadcast outside Number 10? It wasn't even as if Mr Blah would have noticed the camera and popped outside for an exclusive chat. He was in Pakistan at the time, a fact evidenced by the previous clip on the same bloody programme.

Second shouty point: Her use of the alleged word "unpersuadable". I'm sorry, but this simply does not exist. Yes, you can find it on Google, but only in an American context. Try Chambers, or the OED. There is no such fucking word.

So we have an aberration of the English language hand in hand with a blatant waste of the licence-payers' money. That just about sums up the BBC.

I ONCE worked for an editor who thought he could devise a formula to ensure the continued attraction of readers to his organ. So, armed with the latest market research and supported by a red-socked twat from head office, he penned a missive so restrictive in content that the whole newspaper ground to a halt within days.

We must, he ordered, have on a daily basis three crime stories (only one of which could be about a pensioner getting conned out of their life savings), two RTAs (preferably one serious), three court stories (only one drug related), two school stories (only one Ofsted-related), two charity tales (with pictures where baths of baked beans and attractive young ladies were involved) and, most importantly, one baby picture.

This briefly led to the situation where the chief sub would be screaming "Where's the fucking token baby picture" across the newsroom while the picture editor would shout back: "Piss off, I'm still sorting out the Heinz hussy."

But we never, ever, went so far as to publicise this formula on page one, unlike last week's Gloucester Citizen…

I'M CONFUSED. I read in You magazine that Liz-fucking-Jones is about to jet off on a walking tour of India with lacklustre husband, Nirpal.

But wait. Didn't I read a piece three weeks earlier in the Daily Mail discussing said trip in detail, complete with scary pictures and in particular concentrating on the devastating effect of the Third World economy on the mad woman's bikini line?

What going on? I know that magazine lead times are a bit advanced, but isn't this taking the piss? Or are Mail on Sunday readers, who've already had to put up with the most drawn-out divorce since… well… Liz and Nirpal Jones, just being taken for a ride?

I'M DISTURBED by The Guardian's promo ads for its coverage of the Ashes tour. In a pastiche of the movie posters for Vietnam classic Full Metal Jacket, the ads show a cricket helmet decked out in camouflage colours beneath the heading: "This time it's war".

Well, forgive me for coming over all Robert Fisk, but is this really the right time for the lentil-eaters' bible to exploit the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in a callous bid to boost sales to the likes of the Barmy Army?

You can contact me, if you're quick, at thegreycardigan@gmail.com

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