The Grey Cardigan's September column

THEY’VE KILLED off our editions, closed our district offices, sacked dozens of journalists, made us print overnight on an industrial estate 100 miles away, and are actively discussing having Evening Beast pages subbed and laid-out in Bangalore. So where can the bean-counters turn next in their search for savings?

 

‘I know,’says one of them, brushing the dandruff and Scotch Egg crumbs from his shiny suit. ‘Telephones cost a lot of money. Do they really need them? All they do is talk on them all day.”

 

And so it comes to pass that our telephones, our very lifeblood, are ripped out and replaced by some kind of computer-based IP system which digitally crunches up your questions to the old dear celebrating her 100th birthday and flies them around the world before unzipping them again at the nursing home down the road. In theory …

 

(Don’t, whatever you do, search ‘unzipping’and ‘nursing home”. The cops will be kicking the door in before you’ve had time to delete your history.)

 

Of course, it doesn’t work. Reporters are reduced to queuing for the newsroom mobile or using their own phones, for which the company will no longer pay expenses. In frustration, and with gaping holes in my pages, I decide to use what little influence I have to intercede on their behalf. So I reach over and pick up the phone to ring IT … oh.

 

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A CURIOUS story appeared in the Brentwood Gazette last month. ‘Were you one of these fresh-faced youngsters sat in the art room thirty-something years ago?’it read. ‘If so, ex-Brentwood schoolgirl turned national newspaper columnist Liz-fucking-Jones is on a mission to track you down.'(I may have made a slight alteration there.)

 

A terrifying thought, indeed. Apparently dear old Liz, facing a mid-life crisis as she turns 50, is trying to contact her former schoolmates: “I want to find out who got married, who had children and about their careers. Am I the only one not to have had kids?

 

‘They are probably settled, looked after, content, whereas I am in constant turmoil, wracked with self-doubt.”

 

Well, always eager to help, I’ll repeat the plea. If you were one of the girls in Liz’s class at Brentwood County High School between 1970 and 1975, please contact her on Elizabeth01@btinternet.com. And please don’t use that email address for any other purpose, such as complaining about her terminal self-obsession.

 

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THOSE CLEVER chaps at Sky News must have thought they were doing us all a favour when they linked their coverage of the war in South Ossetia to a ‘Background on the Region’ link. Unfortunately, the Georgia referred to in the link turned out to be Georgia, USA – ‘Georgia is also known as the Peach State and … is geographically the largest state east of the Mississippi River. The capital and largest city is Atlanta.”

 

Although the story had been rattling around the internet message boards for a while – and the Alabama National Guard was patrolling the border on the lookout for Russian tanks – The Guardian’s Media Monkey stuck it up on their website at 3.20 on Monday afternoon. It was therefore a surprise to find the exact same story appearing as the lead item in the Guardian’s diary column the following Wednesday morning under the byline of Esther Addley. ‘Confusing, isn’t it?’she wrote. Yes dear, it is.

 

Is it naïve to hope that those privileged to write the Guardian diary might also have a quick glance at the newspaper’s website now and again? Perhaps so, when this once-proud job seems to be farmed out to anyone who wants to have a crack at it, however inept. At this rate I’d even welcome back the piss-poor Jon Henley, whose lachrymose mantra of ‘I’m sorry I’m not Marina’made regular appearances in my email inbox during his time in the chair.

 

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THE HEADING in the Daily Telegraph read: ‘15,000 dying each year due to excess alcohol.’The picture in the adjacent slot? ‘Kate Middleton, 26, emerges from Raffles nightclub in London at 3.45am yesterday after a night out with Prince William.’Oops!

 

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

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