THE ACTION takes place in a spacious, luxurious office within an industrial complex somewhere in Wapping.
Around the walls are stuffed-head trophies, among them the Countess of Wessex, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Richard Bacon. Alongside sits a portrait of the MP George Galloway, captioned: "The One That Got Away".
A masked figure in flowing Arab robes stands silhouetted against the Thames skyline. His editor is sobbing: "How did it all go so wrong? You offered the usual bait, didn’t you?"
The silhouette nods vigorously. "We blew the budget, boss, honest. We begged, we promised," he stammers, "and they just took it and ran. But they didn’t come back."
"Damn them, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be!" thunders the angry editor. "The snake oil’s always worked for Mazher Mahmood. Why wouldn’t they sign up to YOUR deal?"
The robed figure shakes his head sadly. "There’s no loyalty any more. They take what we offer, but they know they’ll get the same deal or better somewhere else next week. There’s no honour these days."
"Sod those bloody readers!" storms the purple-faced editor, staring at the overnight circulation figures showing a 5 per cent loss week-onweek.
"That was the best deal we’ve ever made… and for WHAT?"
"Don’t w-w-worry, chief," stutters the fake shakedown merchant.
"I’ve got a blockbuster for next Sunday."
"Bollocks!" roars his boss. "Call yourself a marketing manager?
I wouldn’t wipe my arse on your DVDs. If it gets much worse we’ll have to go back to journalism…"
I TOLD YOU SO : Remember Walter Wolfgang, the 82-year-old lifelong Labour activist who was manhandled out of last year’s Labour conference for heckling The Leader? And remember my Old Bore’s Almanac prediction for next September, 2007?
Here’s a reminder: "September: New Labour holds a party conference at which 82-year-old outsider Walter Wolfgang is elected leader."
Cripes! Fact is stranger than fiction. In The Observer’s Pendennis diary the other week it was reported that [Wolfgang] "intends to stand for the party’s national executive committee", telling the diarist: "I believe Blair has to go."
Truly, I am the new Doris Stokes.
I TOLD YOU SO : Remember my rant last week against dumb spellcheckers replacing proofreaders? Well, no sooner was the blighter published than I was deluged with a shoal of shockers.
Best example? This rib tickler from The Observer’s "For the Record"
column: "A paragraph in our investment column last week fell victim to the curse of the electronic spellchecker. ‘Old Mutual’ became ‘Old Metal’, ‘Axa Framlington’ became ‘Axe Framlington’ and ‘Alliance Pimco’ became ‘Aliens Pico’."
You couldn’t make it up! Then again, maybe you can if you’re a spellchecker.