Banks' Notes 10.03.06

By David Banks

Dear Sarah,

Sincere sympathy in your loss. I know how it feels to be editor of a national paper with a chauffeur-driven car one minute and to have your bum parked on a Tube seat the next. Been there, done that, worn the hair shirt. Still, you’ll get over it.

I won’t pretend to know the details of your departure but I’m sure you’ll have had a tough few months being led a merry dance to the music of time (always running out, in your case) by the Tory terrors down at Telegraph Towers.

I told your old pal Martin Newland that it wouldn’t be easy once you both had an editor-in-chief superimposed [Banks Notes, November 2005] and I was right — Newland was gone the day before Press Gazette dropped through his letterbox.

Warning of John Bryant’s appointment on the very weekend you relaunched your new-look, women-oriented broadsheet (maybe a trimmed-down tabloid might have been a better idea after all?), I wrote: "Brethren, your prayers are asked for the editors of the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs, ‘rewarded’ with their very own father figure…"

So yes, I do know how it feels. Dead man walking. You’re sick to your stomach; hurt, humiliated but most of all, angry. Furious that you didn’t get the resources, promotions and marketing, advertising budget and — worst of all — the TIME to make it work.

They tell me you were lured from your office to a phoney outside meeting to learn the bad news. To my undying shame, that also happened to my talented predecessor Richard Stott, who was given breakfast at Claridges while I was shuffled, witlessly believing in my jet-lagged state that he had departed ‘by mutual agreement’ a week earlier, into his vacant chair. Years later a successor, Piers Morgan, was actually ‘escorted’ to the front door.

I was comparatively lucky, but still rueful: when Ian Katz subsequently interviewed me for The Guardian I remember him asking how it felt to be "kicked upstairs" to the editorial director’s chair.

Next day I read that I’d replied: "Like being thrown down the lift shaft."

But it passes. The hurt fades. Look on the bright side: you’ll see a lot more of Kim [Fletcher] and the kids, for a while at least. And then the offers will come (if they haven’t already) and you will burn and work with the flaming passion of injured pride.

Best wishes, Banksy

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