The Grey Cardigan: 24 August 2007

The white smoke has drifted from the chimney; the bells peal out the joyous news. The Evening Beast has a new editor.

Yes, folks, after three days during which the cleaners were openly discussing the new incumbent, a memo pings into our collective inboxes. It contains the usual guff: great track record, exciting times, multimedia synergy, challenges ahead… oh, and it’s a woman.

I catch the eye of Mungo, our peripatetic Glaswegian sub who keeps a brick in his desk drawer. He sighs and his head slumps into his hands. He’s been there before, apparently, and has painful memories of working for the dear lady. As for me, I’m just a miserable old misogynist. Still, anything has to be better than the headless chicken that was the Boy Wonder. Doesn’t it?

It is only right that we should today mark the sad departure of one of journalism’s giants. I write, of course, of little Jon Henley, who has been brutally removed from his less-thansuccessful stint on the Guardian diary.

It’s fair to say that this column has been less than kind to poor Jon, whose plaintive cry of ‘I’m sorry I’m not Marina’regularly echoed around the Cardigan inbox.

Do I feel any guilt? Well, yes, I do. For somewhere out there is a bed-ridden gentleman whose wife, according to Jon, read the diary out to him every morning because it made him ‘laugh out loud”. To that poor man, I apologise.

Still, we must be rigorously fair in these matters and apply equal scrutiny to Jon’s replacement, the windmill-eared Hugh Muir. With this in mind, I studied last Friday’s effort closely. Unfortunately, I couldn’t understand a bloody word of it. This does not bode well.

Anyone throwing a brick into the climate camp outside Heathrow last week would have stood a very good chance of felling a hack, such was the number of undercover reporters lurking among the crusties. Not many of them seemed to stay the course, with 48 hours being about as long as most could take – or remain undiscovered.

But our old friend Tanya Gold is made of sterner stuff that that. After her six-month quest to get on to Big Brother and her fortnight in a Portugese diet clinic, slumming it with a few soap-dodgers for a week was a piece of cake. (Am I alone in thinking that the Mail features desk is somehow in on this joke?)

We were even treated to the prerequisite picture of Tanya dressed as a ‘potty protester’complete with what looks like a large grey leg-warmer on her head. At least this time she managed to keep her huge feet out of shot by hiding them in the long grass.

Sadly for Tanya, what was originally planned to be a spread was hammered down to a single page at the last minute.

We know this because some poor sub, doubtless now swinging from the Derry Street atrium, left half the original heading on the page. Most unusual.

Writing in Press Gazette, award-winning Loaded writer Jeff Maysh tells how he secured an interview with King of the Chavs Michael Carroll: ‘I needed a new way in and bunged a journalist from a local rag £20 for the address of Carroll’s auntie…”

Local rag? The glib little bastard. Maysh, who looks to be about 12 years old, had better watch his back at the next awards do. He’s in dire danger of having his dinner money stolen, not to mention suffering a Chinese burn in the toilets.

Entering into a spurious Daily Telegraph debate on the manliness of Vladimir Putin’s six-pack compared with Jack Nicholson’s paunch, the fragrant Celia Walden admits that she has a horror of male physical vanity.

Miss Walden, the squeeze of egomaniac Piers Morgan (have I mentioned that he still owes me two grand?) goes on to say: ‘Bring back men who don’t have a clue what ‘moobs’ are… men who, past a certain age, have sacrificed their lithe forms to the utter enjoyment of life.”

Men like… err… Piers, perhaps?

Who is Jefferson Hack? And why is he polluting my Telegraph? And who came up with the wizard idea of devoting a whole broadsheet page to the boxers versus briefs debate? Is this what finished off poor Bill Deedes?

I’m not even certain that I want a weekly male fashion page in the Telegraph. I’m sure Colonel Bufton Tufton doesn’t. This mad spiral down the age scale is purported to be the Telegraph’s attempt to steal readers from the Mail – a newspaper that is quite fearless in its accurate targeting of readers. I’m afraid the issue of whether or not some ‘original and edgy commentator’has got any pants on isn’t going to satisfy the new or the old.

More over-familiar dross from desperate PRs: ‘Just to introduce myself, I’m Gary and I’m working with Slam PR for XXXX Cider. I’m essentially just following up on a previous e-mail sent by one of my colleagues [Miranda or Dee I’d imagine!] – but there is a wee update today.

‘Now that the sun has finally come out, it’s the perfect time for us to declare that summer 2007 will from this point onwards be known as the Summer of a Thousand Ciders…”

Well Gary was right. I certainly needed a drink after deleting that bollocks.

You can contact me, should you be minded, at

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