The Grey Cardigan 27.01.06

IT IS not only at the Evening Beast that jobs are going. Our
broadcast colleagues at the local BBC are also facing compulsory
redundancies.

So they must have been delighted to read details of
director-general Mark Thompson’s expense claims released under the
Freedom of Information Act.

Mr Thompson, right, earns in excess
of £500,000 a year and is sufficiently wealthy to have turned down a
£168,000 bonus this year. He is not, however, beyond claiming £1.75 for
a business call from a hotel or the £8.75 he spent on a meal at a
motorway services.

Interestingly, he also claimed £71 for evening
dress required for a diplomatic bash at Buckingham Palace. I am not
suggesting any impropriety here, but are we really to believe that Mr
Thompson doesn’t own a dinner jacket? And if not, why should the
licence-payers buy him one?

Perhaps he should adopt the custom
long practiced in the regional press of the “DJ Club”, wherein the
political reporter, the business reporter, the theatre critic and the
deputy editor would all chip in to buy a one-size-fits-all £50
second-hand outfit in the Moss Bros sale.

The evening dress was
then passed from invitee to invitee as functions demanded, with each of
them claiming the standard £35 expense allowance on each occasion. A
nice little earner, that one.

DESPITE A full and adventurous
life, I must confess that I have never “enjoyed” three-in-a-bed sex
with a pair of rent boys. Unlike Mark Oaten, turned over by the News of
the World on Sunday.

(And tell me, what was the act so unspeakable that even the NOTW dare not speak its name? Wearing brown shoes in town?

Having Austrian blinds in one’s drawing room? Drinking Blue Nun with beef?)

Mr
Oaten’s outing provided much fodder for Sunday morning sanctimony, as
guests on Andrew Marr’s programme and on Radio 4 weighed into the
naughty press for ruining this poor man’s perfect family life. For me,
there is one overwhelming defence of our black arts: if a senior
politician seeking higher office is so irredeemably stupid that he puts
his head above the parapet despite having serious skeletons in his
closet, then I think we should all be told how flawed his judgement is.

ROGER
“Potty Mouth” Alton clearly took time off from practising his advanced
swearing techniques to help with the launch of his new women’s
magazine. “Plucking Hell” was the coverline, referring to a feature
about depilation. For fuck’s sake, Rog. This is The Observer we’re
talking about, not Nuts or Zoo.

MR TONY Booth writes to
theguardian complaining bitterly that The Sun has endangered the
personal safety of his five-year-old grandson by “splashing this little
boy’s photograph across its front pages”.

Shouldn’t someone have
pointed out to him that the picture was taken at an official photocall
at Number 10 when Mr Booth’s son-inlaw was more than happy to parade
“this little boy” for the entertainment of the voters?

THERE ARE
dozens of people dying daily in Iraq. Thousands die every hour around
the world from disease and starvation. Yet a bottlenose whale swims up
the Thames and the nation grinds to a weeping, wailing halt.

Truly,
it was The People’s Whale. And as Lorraine Kelly dementedly blathered
on GMTV: “Seeing it in front of the House of Commons and Big Ben, it
was almost as if it was campaigning.” God help us all.

UNBEATABLE television of the week comes from Sky Channel 999.

“Duck,
Duck.” “What is it Dog?” “Can we push the red button?” Yes, Dog.”
Fantastic stuff. I watched it for two hours the other night thinking it
was Celebrity Big Brother.

You can contact me, should you be minded, at thegreycardigan@gmail.com

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