WELL, HERE we are again then. Those who have followed me for the past few years might have wondered where I had disappeared to. The explanation is simple – the bastards finally caught up with me.
For the benefit of new readers, I was the archetypal crusty old chief sub on local newspapers for many years, before being unexpectedly catapulted into the editor’s chair of the Evening Beast, a middling regional daily. I didn’t want the job in the first place; I certainly didn’t want all the management bollocks that came with it. Being run by an Invisible Man based 30 miles down the road who seemed to spend every waking hour coming up with new ways to screw up a once successful local paper wasn’t easy. And I knew that sooner or later my constant ruses to outwit his mission to dispense with all our staff and most of our pages would come home to roost.
And so they have. I’ve been replaced by a child in a suit. I leave with a framed front page, a valedictory drink at The Shivering Whippet, a small pay-off and my head held high. Now I’m in the dangerous waters of the unemployed or, as my previously departed colleagues called it, pursuing a new career as an editorial and PR consultant. It’s a bit bloody scary, let me tell you.
THE FIRST uncomfortable truth arrives when I open my newly-independent inbox. As an editor, and thanks to the technological miracle of caller identification, I could safely ignore any telephone calls from an 0207 number, so avoiding the mewling exhortations of some PR girl called Hermione or Hatty. “Did you get the press release I just sent you?” Yes, I did, and it’s already in the bin. “Are you thinking of doing a story on it?” No, I’m not. That’s why it’s already in the fucking bin.
But now, when every snippet might generate some meagre income, I have to read the lot. It isn’t much fun. Given my new state of imminent poverty, I was particularly incensed by a series of emails on the afternoon of Maundy Thursday, one of which went “It’s countdown time! Woop! Only three hours until the four-day holiday begins! But before it does, let me tell you about these great new incontinence pants…” Listen, Seraphina, like many of the other hacks I know, either self-employed or subjects of wage slavery, I was working throughout the bloody “four-day holiday”, not jetting off to Chamonix for black runs and Bloody Marys with Sebastian and his folks.
You’re asking us to do you a favour. Why then do you go out of your way to piss us off?
I CAN only imagine the lockdown hysteria going on at the Daily Mail in the wake of the death of the Blessed Margaret. The response of the loony Left was always going to be predictable, if irrational. Those of use who lived through the era of deranged trade union leaders look regretfully at the 20-somethings cavorting in the streets who were brought up on a politically naïve school curriculum of Thatcher the Bogey Woman.
Still it’s all good copy. In fact, I think I witnessed the first ever newspaper orgasm when the Mail started digging into the background of protest organiser Romany Blythe. “They danced in the streets when Hitler died too. Drama teacher who organised Thatcher death parties remains unrepentant as it’s revealed she had NHS breast implants,” read the website heading. Superb work that must have surely had Lord Dacre nursing a stiffy.
The Grey Cardigan has been in newspapers since the days of hot metal and expense accounts. After a lengthy career as chief sub on several regional newspapers, plus a multitude of shifts on the nationals, he was appointed editor of the Evening Beast in 2009 before being ignominiously 'rationalised' last year. He is currently collecting gas in jam jars in case the Russians cut us off. @thegreycardigan