The Grey Cardigan 27.07.06

AS AUGUST approaches, the great minds of the Evening Beast management team turn to the hot topic of our national game.

Since the suits announced the binning of our Saturday night football special, angry letters and emails have flooded in, many from the kind of people who have voluntarily devoted their lives to their sport at all levels.

These honest citizens – the club chairmen and the league secretaries – are not swayed by mealy-mouthed, cost-based justifications.

They talk of strange notions like service to the community and point to the minimal outlay by the company compared with the vast profits still made by this limping leviathan. Such letters are now banned from our pages in a cowardly display of censorship.

Eventually the pink (or green) smoke arrives at the top of the metaphorical chimney. We’ll be carrying an extra eight pages on a Monday, preceded by a 16-page “preview” section on a Saturday.

Astonishingly, the “preview” will carry all the previous weekend’s local league results, making it the only retrospective preview in the country.

The stupidity of the situation is immediate. To save money we’ve upset around 10,000 readers by taking away their weekly fix. Now we’re going to give it back to them, in two parts, but with a print run of roughly eight times the original, meaning eight times the newsprint costs. Don’t these clowns have any idea? When they banned drinking during the working day, one can only assume that they made the Evening Beast boardroom exempt.

OH DEAR, oh dear. The News of the World publishes a picture of chart-topping, wild-child songstress Lily Allen flashing a breast to illustrate a piece detailing her crazee lifestyle.

There’s just one problem. My snouts tell me that the picture was taken when Ms Allen was just 14 years old. Given the robust stance of the News of the World when it comes to paedophilia, shouldn’t someone be handing themselves over to the cops sharpish, before the mob with burning torches turns up at Wapping?

AND SO we swelter towards the silly season. The second-rate reserves are already turning up on the television news bulletins, missing cues and crashing links like Reggie Bosanquet after an afternoon on the claret.

The Independent wastes no time in putting its hands up and waving the white beach towel. Monday’s edition, on the first day of the school holidays, can muster only eight pages of actual news (and that’s being generous) in a 96-page book.

And it’s not as if nothing was happening, what with the Middle East, two race-related murders oop north and the tragically bizarre “death by bouncy castle” tale. But get to pages 8-9 of The Indy and you’ve got a cuttings job spread titled “The Great Quiz Show Quiz”, inspired by the rumoured return of Mr and Mrs to our benighted screens. Absolutely astonishing.

I’VE HAD a pop at Andrew Marr’s Sunday shambles in the past, so it’s only fair to congratulate him on his interview with John Prescott at the weekend. Understanding what the Deputy Prime Minister is trying to say, and then formulating a sensible response, must be like knitting fog.

So well done for chucking the running order out of the window and going for the jugular when the buffoon blabbed about Blair’s departure date, just as you were being wound up.

A nod also to James Naughtie, often derided for being soft on Labour, but who booted the caravan-dwelling Margaret Beckett around the studio when she was stupid enough to suggest that the situation in the Middle East shouldn’t necessarily be the top item on the agenda.

SPACE DENIES me the opportunity to probe the curious serialisation of Noel Edmonds’s new book in the newspaper that he’d just successfully sued, to discuss the very strange Max Clifford interview where he offered up his new live-in lover to the gleeful vultures, or to reveal the identity of the regional newspaper editor found hiding in the wardrobe in a hotel room occupied by a female advertising colleague after a recent summer party. And no, she didn’t know he was there.

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

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