The Grey Cardigan: 26th October 2007

I’M FIRST into the Evening Beast office on Monday morning. I can’t help it. It’s a throwback to the days when we used to start at 6am, ready for conference at 7am and with six editions ahead of us. Now the troops drift in about 8.30ish and we might get around to a conference at 9.15 – that’s if Crystal Tits and Alistair have finished their communal croissants au chocolat in time. Our only edition is an overnight one.

As I sit down to sharpen my pencils (another old habit) I hear the unmistakeable sound of drunken snoring coming from underneath the end of the desk. Peering through the tangle of wires and pedestal drawers, I see Mungo, our peripatetic Glaswegian sub, curled up and away with the fairies. Welcome home, mate, I think, having last seen him two weeks ago when he popped over to Paris ‘for the day’to watch the rugger.

It’s somehow reassuring to see a journo asleep in the office – a reminder of those days when there was always at least one staffer living under their desk or in their car after an unforeseen domestic incident. These were usually heralded by an angry wife turning up in the front office dragging bin bags containing their errant man’s clothes. Sometimes, if we were lucky, they’d even set the clothes on fire in reception.

The degree of humiliation this involved depended on the guilty chap’s social standing within the office. Obviously managing directors scored more than sports subs. And trust me, I’ve seen it happen to both.

I once knew a snapper who spent so long living in his orange MGB GT in the office car park that the local council’s Gypsy Empowerment Unit turned up offering him a grant and a Portaloo. Another scorned wife upped the stakes by not only dragging her fornicating husband’s clothes into the office but by bringing his new baby along as well. We were bang on deadline, so he slid the mewling infant into his bottom drawer, knocked out the two decks of 30pt Helvetica we were waiting for, and then gathered the infant under his arm and marched off to resolve the situation.

Top class.

However, modern management is less understanding about these domestic crises than the old school, so I boot Mungo awake, give him my contraband key to the executive showers, and point him in the right direction. He lifts his head, grunts, and slouches off, dragging his naval kitbag behind him. As he does, a live cockerel sticks its head out of the bag. I decide not to ask.

NOT CONTENT with continually dabbling her fingers in the misery of her car-crash marriage in You magazine, Liz-fucking-Jones again trades on her own mother’s personal strife in her column in The Mail on Sunday‘s main paper. It’s a strange piece about the lack of cleanliness on NHS wards, where Liz strides through a hospital accompanied by a former ward sister.

So in the intro we’re told that Ms Jones’s mother contracted MRSA in the self-same hospital nine years ago, and has ever since required 24-hour nursing care at home. Then nothing more for 1,000 words. And then, in the penultimate par, we have the following: ‘I look at my mum, her pale eyes watery and sunken with pain, and she has had enough. She can’t stand being alive any more.”

Give her some back copies of You magazine then, love. That’ll soon sort her out.

PATRIOTISM IS a funny thing. The front page tease of last Saturday’s Daily Mail carries a picture of a rugby-playing bulldog dressed in a shirt displaying the Union Flag. Immediately beneath is a further tease with a poignant picture of a lone Tommy in the trenches, promoting the newspaper’s First World War DVD giveaway series.

There’s something not quite right there, although I suspect it will take a smartarse on the Guardian diary to tell me what it is.

I WORRY for the usually splendid Nancy Banks-Smith. In her Month in Ambridge piece in The Guardian, she confuses the Borchester Echo, the weekly newspaper of choice for the citizens of Ambridge, with the glossy colour magazine Borsetshire Life, edited by the thrusting young Glenn Whitehouse (‘I’ll be in the gym at 8am but I’ll have my PDA tuned to Bluetooth”).

It’s a small point, but one that matters to those of us who are waiting patiently for the irritating Ruairi to fall into a slurry pit.

INSIDE THE Mail on Sunday, we have another first… the giveaway Strictly Come Dancing DVD is the world’s first fully-recyclable EcoDisc, which is ‘half the thickness of a normal DVD and involves no ecologically-damaging adhesives.’I think you’ll find that almost every DVD given away in the national press is ‘fully-recyclable”. Well they are once I’ve put them in the bin, anyway.

THE SUN’S splash on Jose Mourinho’s alleged affair would have been a lot more interesting if, firstly, he’d still been Chelsea manager and, secondly, it hadn’t dated back to 2003. Far be it from me to be cynical, but dare I suggest that the story might have been lingering in the safe at Wapping for some considerable time? Like until he was no longer in a position of power when it came to red-top relationships? Cobwebs abound.

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