REGULAR readers may recall that last year I was hired to do a bit of ‘reputation management’ for a faded 70s radio DJ who lived behind electric gates and stone greyhounds in the next village. (I had no idea at the time what ‘reputation management’ was, but I wasn’t in a position to turn down hard cash.)
It turned out that my new friend – suspiciously flowing yellow hair framing a sunbed orange face – was a bit nervous about his past exploits in the wake of Operation Witch Hunt, sorry, Yewtree. I believed him when he said that he’d never done anything out of order for the time, so agreed to watch his back as far as publicity was concerned, although the presence of a rather young Thai bride in his mansion did make me a little nervous.
Anyway, I got him onto a couple of local fund-raising committees, a judging slot at the village dog show and a few appearances in the local press – although I did veto a starring role as Father Christmas at the annual fete just in case.
Yesterday afternoon, the phone went just as I was watching Pointless. “Grey, fantabulous news,” my client bubbled from the mobile in his rusting Rolls Royce. “The Hairy Cornflake has walked. The CPS have fucked it up again. And after Bill Roache was cleared as well. They’re surely going to have to pack this lark in now. And poor old Stuart Hall must be wishing he’d kept his gob shut rather than pleading guilty.”
“Yes, well…” I said, “Mr Travis might have been cleared on 12 charges, but he could still be hauled back for a retrial on two charges on which the jury couldn’t reach a verdict, plus he’s had to sell his house to pay his legal bills, and he’s clearly finished career-wise.”
“Never mind that,” the elaborately coiffured disc-spinner replied. “It’s blindingly obvious that no jury is going to convict on woolly evidence that’s 40 years old. Jesus Christ, I can’t remember what I had for dinner last Tuesday, never mind who I fingered in 1975.”
At this point I invented some static, told him he was breaking up, and ended the call. I fear that there isn’t enough money in the world to make me continue this relationship.
OH, how we’ve laughed, sneered and generally mocked the apocalyptic weather splashes of the Daily Express. ‘Worst Storm For 100 Years’, ‘Killer Gales To Hit Britain’ and ‘Look Out – We’re All Going To Die’, day after day after day for the past couple of years, interrupted only by plots to murder Diana, miracle cures for arthritis, diabetes or cancer and made-up scare stories about thieving gypsy immigrants.
Well who’s laughing now, eh? Here we sit, knee deep in muddy water, as hailstones lash down about our heads and the garden fence lifts itself up and sets off for Scotland. I tell you what. If Madeleine McCann turns up next week, we’re all going to look very silly indeed.
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