The Grey Cardigan 30.06.06

THE GRIM hands of the grey men tighten their grip once more.

A memo issues forth from the Boy Wonder’s office instructing we happy few, we band of brothers, that in future “the consumption of alcohol is banned during normal working hours for health and safety reasons”.

Health and safety reasons? I fear it might be a little late for that.

This end of the Evening Beast’s subs’ desk contains several specimens who can best be described as not so much preserved as well and truly pickled.

So it’s goodbye to the swift couple at lunchtime and it’s an end to extracting indiscretions from contacts over the third bottle of Chardonnay. A sad day, indeed.

Of slightly more concern is how they’re going to police it. Will we be breathalysed after breakfast? Will whisky wardens patrol the newsroom dipping litmus paper into any suspicious bottles of Irn Bru? And how will Mungo cope?

Mungo is our peripatetic Glaswegian sub (you all know him, I’m sure) whose mental stability is drink-dependent – too little or too much of the electric soup and there are inevitable problems, usually involving the house brick he keeps in his desk drawer in case of momentary violence.

His reputation for liver torture is legendary, particularly in his own neighbourhood. When he once tried to buy a bottle of methylated spirits in his local hardware shop, the owner took him to one side, put an arm around his shoulder and slipped him the number of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Mungo, not impressed by this misguided charitable act, protested loudly that he’d never been so insulted in his life and was merely painting the gate of the old lady next door. Amid much chagrin, the red-faced hardware chap flustered and blustered before handing over the bottle of meths.

Mungo felt it, looked him in the eye, and said “Haven’t you got a cold one?”

THERE SEEMS to be growing resentment among the rank and file in the newsroom over the number of wellpaid, but utterly inept, press officers employed by local authorities. I can sympathise, having this week received an email from a Fiona Double-Barrelled saying: “We would be delighted if you would be able to engage with the story below…”

Engage with the story below? What fuckwittery is this? Can’t the simpering waste of space speak English?

And what about this drivel, penned by a £35k-a-year meedja relations manager: “The partners involved hope that this approach will help to improve interactions between the statutory and voluntary sector and provide a stainable platform for future working arrangements…”

A stainable platform? That’ll be number eight at Liverpool Street, then.

BUT WAIT, I hear Samantha and Giles bleat, what would depleted newsrooms do without all those quickly recycled press releases? Take this fascinating tale from Monday’s Brighton Argus, which reported that “a 40-strong samba band shook its way through town on Saturday to celebrate a fair that dates back 600 years.”

The report went on to speak glowingly of the African dancers, jive enthusiasts, a parade and other frivolity. Readers are understandably confused. The parade takes place tomorrow (Saturday).

And as my correspondent remarks, you’d have thought someone would have asked where the picture was.

I KNOW the BBC continues to wring its hands over being “hideously white”, but do we have to have Paul Robeson reading continuity announcements on Radio 4? I keep expecting Old Man River instead of The Archers.

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