Saturday, 21 August 2010

Not me, the OTHER Banksy!

MY name is Banksy; it has been for 62 years. Trouble is, everyone who knows me thinks I’m a spray painting vandal with a penchant for blue monkeys and rats hanging from parachutes.
No, I say, that’s the OTHER Banksy, the graffiti grand master whose work sells – when you can lever it off the local bus shelter or lavatory wall – for half-a-million quid or more. I’m the one whose newspaper column wraps chips and whose Journal photo is used as a target for darts practise at the Red Lion.
They quickly lose interest, of course, which is just as well for me, given that I live within the parliamentary paywall known as Berwick upon Tweed, an art-loving town which adores LS Lowry as an adopted son but brushes away anything after the style of a Banksy.
A couple of weeks ago a restored seafront shelter, famously preserved for posterity as the subject of one of Salford-born Lowry’s matchstick men-style paintings. itself became the object of another artist’s attention.
Overnight, the famous four-foot-tall blue monkey which appears in so many of the anonymous Banksy graffiti works was stencilled onto the shelter wall. It wasn’t the first Lowry subject to be given the animal treatment, either: two years ago Berwickers awoke to discover the lighthouse – depicted by its favourite son back in the 1930s – had been defaced with a circle of painted penguins (another of my namesake’s favourite animal subjects).
Last week the blue monkey disappeared under the onslaught of an outraged town council’s scrubbing brush, just as those penguins were culled two years ago.
But this is the Year of the Monkey up here in Godzone . . . stencilled blue Banksy monkeys have now appeared on a public lavatory in Seahouses and in a bus shelter outside Seton Hall in Tweedmouth. And before the council’s Mrs Mop washes away another work of art just think . . . if it really IS the real thing it might be worth a fortune.
Not worth the millions you’d pay for a Lowry, of course, but certainly up around the half-million mark if it’s a genuine Banksy.
Of course, you’d have to hang the bus shelter on your wall as well. . .

WE call Mark ‘The Mongoose’ because we first came across him nicking eggs from Young Neil’s henhoose. But we forgave him, befriended him and admitted him to Milfield’s domino school. We even found him a wife.
Today, the Mongoose takes sweet Philippa’s hand in marriage; Young Neil’s the best man, ’Er Outdoors and I are barrelling up for the party afterwards and The Lovely Debbie volunteered to bake a meringue. But I fear old habits die hard.
“There was hardly an egg to be found for the meringue,” wailed Debbie. “I think Mongoose has been at it again. And on his wedding eve, too.”
It’s a life sentence, Mrs Mongoose . . . we wish you well!

A RICH farmer – is there any other kind? – gathered his three sons around his deathbed and told them that when he finally passed away he wanted to take some of his fortune with him “just in case I need it on the other side”.
He gave each an envelope containing £100,000 with instructions that they be slipped into the coffin just before the lid was sealed.
After the burial his youngest, a clergyman, begged forgiveness after confessing that he had taken £10,000 from the envelope to pay for church roof repairs.
“In that case,” said the middle son, a doctor, “I’ll admit to taking out £20,000 to buy equipment for my surgery. I’m sure dad wouldn’t have minded.”
The eldest son, a fat cat banker, smiled at his siblings’ nervousness. “I can assure you that I put the full amount in the coffin, just as father instructed,” he said.
“Of course, I took the £100,000 from the envelope first and replaced the cash with a cheque!”
First published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne, July 16 2010

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Never say 'never again', EVER again . . .

AT LEAST it will never again be THIS bad on the Mirror I thought, on that dismal bloody Sunday in 1992.
It’s either job cuts or the death of Mirror Group, I told myself on Day One of my editorship as I carried out the board’s instruction to immediately end the employment of all casual journalists at the paper.
In the weeks that followed, that once-imperious redtop tabloid’s fight for life was disrupted by almost daily emergency chapel meetings and votes of no confidence in both management and me.
But it has to be this way, I told my senior execs, coaxing from them names of staff who could be ‘let go’. Management was looking for something like a fifty per cent cut in the 400-plus staff; I was fighting to shed ‘only’ a third.
Upstairs, in the ninth-floor stateroom that Robert Maxwell had abandoned before his fatal midnight dip in the Med sat the man who was calling the shots: not David Montgomery, the chief executive who hired me home from Australia that wintry November; and not Charles Wilson, who had picked me up at Heathrow and ushered me triumphantly into the editor’s office at the exact moment Monty was firing my predecessor, the talented but argumentative Richard Stott, over breakfast at Claridge’s.
No. Dwarfed by Maxwell’s enormous desk, sitting in the old cheat’s chair, was a man from the accountancy firm Arthur Andersen, international undertakers to the business world. The Official Receiver was in.
How I survived that winter at war with the men and women I’d worked alongside as a sub in the Seventies I’ll never know: good ol’ Banksy, their laugh-a-minute mate from yesteryear, had come back to his true home at the Mirror. All would end happily ever after.
Only it wouldn’t. It couldn’t. The paper was overstaffed, overpaid, run for six days by casuals while staffers enjoyed long lunches and a four-day week. Driven by Montgomery’s unblinking (but laudable) pledge to replenish the plundered pension fund and return the Group to profit, journalists and management went to war.
Unhappily, I was Field-Marshall Montgomery’s battlefield general in that newspaper’s valley of death. It was a bloody awful job but someone had to do it. And it would be the Mirror’s War to End ALL Wars, wouldn’t it?
Sadly not: eighteen years later we are here again, in exactly the same hole. Only this time it is circulation and advertising revenues that have taken a nosedive, not the proprietor.
Its greatest rival, the Sun, enjoys a 20p price advantage over the 45p Mirror – five pence more even than in my day – and its closest circulation rival, the 20p Daily Star, now breathes down its neck: just 400,00 copies behind the Mirror’s 1.24million, with a threatened price reduction to 10p this month.
The paper’s BAJ chapel is talking strike action: no change there, then. “The company is proposing to rip the heart and soul out of the national titles . . .no alternative but to ballot . . . job will turn into a sweatshop.” Echoes of eighteen years ago.
And the management? Big pay rises for chief executive Sly Bailey and co-directors while Mirror Group continues to make a £60million operating profit. You can see why the boys in the brown stuff get hot under the collar.
What the Mirror DOES have is dedicated, if fearful, employees and in Richard Wallace a talented editor who produces as good a newspaper as is possible with ever-dwindling resources.
Battle lines, however, are firming. Once again a Mirror editor will find himself stranded in No Man’s Land: no friends, no cash, not enough staff and precious little management support.
Editing the Mirror, for the past 35 years, has been a matter of managing its decline; when I first joined the paper in 1973 its best years were long gone and mid-to-late Seventies Fleet Street wiseacres joked that Sun and Mirror were racing in opposite directions to see who could reach three million copies first.
The race is on again. This time it’s the Daily Star coming up on the rails while the Mirror threatens to wobble off the tracks.
And this time the winning post is a leaner-looking ONE million mark.

SHOCKJOCK Nick Ferrari to replace Piers Morgan as the smoothie-chops loose cannon on Britain’s Got Talent?
The rumour doing the rounds in broadcasting circles might just be a wind-up but don’t expect any yeas or nays from the Simon Cowell camp or from network home ITV – they’re just waiting to see if ex-Mirror editor Morgan is wooed the American way by an offer from CNN to replace veteran interviewer Larry King.
If that does happen Morgan’s life will go stateside as he juggles the CNN job with his job as a judge on America’s Got Talent. That will leave an empty space alongside Amanda Holden and Old King Cowell on the BGT team that’s just made for Ferrari, LBC’s growly, jowly Sony Award winner.
Although he laughs off the idea, Ferrari is the perfect replacement: like Piers, an ex-journo who’s in love with talent and telly and, like Piers, a former Sun Bizarre columnist.
If the biggest loudmouth in British broadcasting DOES get the gig, remember where you read it first and stand by for a rebranding: Britain’s Got Tyrant!
First published in Press Gazette, July 2010

World Cup? It's the Hun wot won it!

GIVEN everything those funster punsters in the Murdoch press have done in the past I was actually disappointed they didn’t reprise their 1992 ‘It’s the Sun Wot Won It’ post-election headline by tagging England’s World Cup defeat: ‘It’s the Hun Wot Won It!’
By jingo! No sooner had the bingo balls been plucked from their velvet sack to announce England’s inevitable (and by now traditional) pairing with Germany than normally sane headline writers headed for the bunkers, pulled on their tin hats and plastered page after page with salvo upon salvo of xenophobia.
One has come to expect it from the tabloids (indeed, your own Little Englander has launched many a nationalistic sporting broadside himself) but this time even the posh papers were at it: The Times and Telegraph thundered about “war” and the Independent concocted a convoluted tribute to England’s goalscorer with ‘A Goal from Defoe - Now for the Foe!’ Geddit?
Actually, my favourite piece of pithily pungent propaganda was not aimed at the foe we faced in two world wars but at an ‘old enemy’ of far longer standing. Neither was it written by a paid hack like me; this was the work of that English everyman, the otherwise nameless poet we might call William Wordsmith.
Plastered on the outside wall of a pub in Cambridge were the words: ‘So it’s Germany v. England and the French have gone home . . . ring any bells?’
Racist? Possibly. Insulting? Most certainly. But also honestly, stingingly funny and quintessentially English in a Dad’s Army kind of way.
And the match result? Predictable. Captain Mainwaring’s men would give a whole regiment of Rooneys a run for their money.

MY mate Domino Joe is a man for all seasons. A former landlord, he quit the bar to open a barber’s shop and has never regretted it: a nine-to-five job and the removal of constant exposure to alcohol have improved his dominoes no end.
But while his drinking has dropped off, his quick-thinking business acumen and fast-talking patter have actually improved.
Mike the Treasurer, a long-haired former maths professor who now looks after the village hall books, went to Joe for his two-monthly shearing and happened to sit next to a customer with slightly less hair than a billiard ball.
“How come HE has to pay seven pounds the same as me?” asked Mike. “He’s nearly bald.”
Joe thought for no more than the time it took to cull Mike’s quiff.
“Search fees,” he sniffed.

SO much for the USA’s much-trumpeted embargo on all things Cuban: the Cleggs from Hexham sent holiday postcards from Havana on May 7 which arrived in New York three days later and in Crookham . . . YESTERDAY.
Hasta la vista, baby!

AS storytellers go, my friend John has few equals. Born and bred in the Borders, he eventually worked for the Mirror in London as a rather grand management executive, though a bit before my time.
A bit of a toff, our Mister Benn as we villagers call him – yes, his real name – has a fund of stories from the Sixties and Seventies when he commuted from his Surrey home to the capital.
He vividly recalled an explosion of protest from a fellow rail traveler – bowler hat and pin-stripes, rolled umbrella and a copy of the City’s Pink ’Un in hand – over the delay caused by a train-bound motorist whose Rolls Royce stalled, jamming the car park entrance.
“Damned cheek of the feller!” roared the military type. “Ought to be ashamed of himself.”
Mister Benn was more sympathetic: “I don’t suppose he could help breaking down.”
“Not what I mean at all,” said the bowler hat. “A chap who uses a Rolls for station work is the sort who’d go hacking on a Derby winner!”
First published in The Journal, Newcastle, on July 2, 2010

Byreman's bar-room spat with Klondike

THE Byreman hates wind turbines; ‘Klondike’ Barry is all for them. Two farmer friends with views which not only divide the bar of the Red Lion but also illustrate the great gulf in public attitudes to renewable energy.
Where do I stand? Well, I’m instinctively in favour of energy production which, where possible, doesn’t depend on polluting fuels like coal and wood and dangerous elements like nuclear. On the other hand, I sympathise with many folk in north Northumberland who fear the march of wind turbines across one of the loveliest parts of Britain is driven by developers aiming to rack up huge profits without properly costing the damage to our quality of life.
But a new factor has intruded into the equation: freedom. Russia’s dispute with Belarus which temporarily disrupted gas supplies this week was a repeat of the crisis of 2008-2009 when, in that bitterly cold winter, Moscow’s pricing dispute with Ukraine left much of Europe short of gas.
How does that affect Berwick or Belford or Bishop Auckland? As North Sea gas expires, Britain depends more and more on gas imports. By 2020 an estimated 90 per cent of our supplies may well be coming through a pipeline from Moscow.
We’re already in hock to the Middle East and America for our oil supplies, to Australia and Canada for our strictly controlled uranium rations and to countries like South Africa, Russia and Columbia for our coal.
The idea that a spat in the old Soviet bloc could lead to someone in Minsk or Kiev turning off the gas should send a chill down all our spines.

ALWAYS look on the bright side: at least raising VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent makes the maths calculation a whole lot easier!

FAREWELL to the magic number sixty-five, we’re all going to have to wait a little longer for our pensions. Future generations might even have to work beyond seventy if we’re to dig ourselves out of our recessionary hole in the ground.
Humbug! Some of us have been ignoring retirement age for years. My illness-enforced disappearance from the workforce means I’m busier now with my writing, broadcasting and voluntary work than I ever was when officially ‘employed’.
I’m not alone: consider the energy and ambition of two remarkable Northumbrian women I bumped into this week as they helped launch a fantastic tourist enterprise on our glorious coastline.
Gilly Banyard, founder of the Penny Plain chain of clothing stores, started looking round for a new project as soon as she ‘retired’. She quickly found one: three derelict farm buildings staring across the causeway that separates Holy Island from the mainland.
They are derelict no more: with all the energy that built Penny Plain into a leading catalogue clothing company, Gilly has created in her Lindisfarne Bay Cottages three ‘Homes and Gardens’ havens of luxury with the finest views in the county.
Celebrating the launch her friend Mary Manley, another ‘swinging sixty’ who turned Alnwick’s railway station into the massively successful Barter Books, scoffed at the idea of retirement as she raised a champagne toast.
“Retire? Not a chance!” they chorused. “Work’s too much fun!”

APPARENTLY the company which makes those annoying little St George World Cup flags that motorists insist on clamping to the front windows has received complaints that they are blown away by the slightest breeze (a bit like the team they support, you might say!).
Indeed a London pal claims he counted more than a dozen broken pennants littering a two-mile stretch of dual carriageway last weekend, although he admits that was immediately following the Algeria fiasco.
Still, he believes it was due to a design fault. Despite my eternal optimism I feel forced to point out another, equally damaging design problem: there is no way of flying these flags at half-mast!
First published in The Journal, Newcastle, on June 25, 2010

Country pubs fail the B-test

YOUNG Farmer’s Night at the Red Lion was a gloomier affair than usual this week; among the young farmers (average age: 68) faces were long and silences ponderous.
Indeed, a poor night on which to introduce My Daughter the Actress’s putative in-laws to the kind of cheery welcome upon which one can normally count up here in Paradis sur Tweed. Doom was in the air: instead of beef and barley, the talk was of breathalysers.
Few doubt the wisdom of Sir Peter North’s government-commissioned report, which concluded that halving the legal limit of drivers’ blood alcohol would save another 160 lives per year. Most, however, foresee such a revision leading to the rapid demise of that great British institution, the country pub.
My immediate area has already lost one formerly thriving hostelry, despite the fact that it once offered hearty food round the clock, five B&B rooms for tourists and a booming drink-and-dominoes economy. It now stands closed and near-derelict, its swinging sign a notice board for tattered circus posters and its car park a magnet for rubbish.
Transport links after 6pm do not exist; it’s a case of drive to the nearest pub (four miles distant) or don’t go out. This is the way communities die. Tourism is fine in the summer but in winter driving to a pub for one drink seems pointless. And a country pub without patrons to fill its car park cannot survive.
The Byreman and I, close to Methodist in our approach to drink-driving, are confirmed car-sharers: he drives and stays ‘dry’ one night; I do the same on the other. But a more organised approach must be found.
Anyone care to run a Pub-Bus service two nights a week?

I HAVE watched football in some rum places but the last place I ever expected to view the World Cup was in the Grand Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall in London’s posh cultural quarter, the South Bank.
Spilling wet-cheeked from a concert celebrating the life of the late Canadian folk singer Kate McGarrigle (mother of Rufus and Martha Wainwright and a diva in her own right), I was confronted by two enormous screens playing out the England-USA match to hundreds of lager-swilling culturistas who similarly stayed to drink and cheer.
Never again do I expect to witness a Mexican wave within that cultural cathedral’s hallowed halls, nor hear the massed choir chanting “Inn-gerr-land! Inn-gerr-land!”

ELFIN safety has gone doolally, as my friend Margaret the Do-It-Herselfer discovered the other day.
Needing a length of wooden dowel to complete a job she popped into the nearest hardware chain store – I won’t say which one, but you have to mind your Ps and Qs in there! – and bought a piece in the only length available which was, you might know, too long for her car.
“Would you just saw it in half?” she asked at the checkout?
“Sorry,” she was told by an assistant in one of the country’s biggest DIY tool shops. “We’re not allowed to use the tools . . . elfin safety!”
In the ensuing verbal kerfuffle the manager had to be summoned. He at least, bright chap, provided the solution . . . he simply snapped the wood in half.
And all the little elfins lived safely ever after!

GEORDIE philanthropists Brian and Shirley Burnie bade goodbye to their beloved Doxford Hall after donating all of the proceeds from the sale of what is now a fantastic hotel and spa to their new charity, Daft As a Brush Cancer Care.
A charity auction raised thousands more, no thanks to Yours Truly: my £75 top bid for a 1919 edition of a yellowing Daily Mail was trumped, would you believe, by the TV reporter who was covering the auction for BBC2’s The One Show.
Was I upset? Was I heck!
The Daily Mail was never worth £80, even on its best day.
First published in The Journal, Newcastle, July 18 2010

Squirrel Nutter-kin and the foxes

FALLOUT from the distressing London attack in which twins were badly bitten by an intruder fox as they slept in their cots might well persuade townies to change their minds about the nationwide fox hunting ban.
It certainly tells us countryfolk a thing or two about life in the big city.
For a start it’s a lock-up lifestyle. “I don’t know why anyone would leave their patio doors open in London,” one ‘fox expert’ told the BBC. “I certainly wouldn’t.”
Secondly, it’s a city that’s as full of nutters as it is of foxes (10,000 furry little fiends at the last count). They are pronounced ‘cute’; people leave food out for them, charities exist to rescue and tend the injured animals.
Lastly, there’s a kind of ‘darling fox denial’ campaign cranking up among the lunatic fringe of urban animal lovers. “This fox did not go ‘on purpose’ to attack the children,” wrote one of them, appropriately named Nutkin (might that be Squirrel Nutkin?), in a London newspaper.
“Any injury would have been accidental and we need to be more responsible about how we treat wild animals in areas of human habitation.”
In other words, WE are the violent intruders.
When I lived in inner London, four miles from Kings Cross, foxes were an everyday sight in my hundred-foot garden in Highgate. One warm spring day I watched dogfox, vixen and three cubs gambolling on the back lawn.
A charming sight, certainly. But surely one more suited to the wilds of Northumberland than to the suburban streets of North London?

FARMERS up here aren’t what they once were: the generation following in the cart tracks of old horny-handed sons of toil like The Byreman are more familiar with broadband and computers than bullocks and combine harvesters.
My dear friend Morebottle (so named for his accelerated consumption as closing time approaches) spends the earliest hours of each day poring over his laptop to check last evening’s closing future prices on the Chicago Commodities market. If tatties are up he’s happy; if they’re down he’s as miserable as a pork butcher on Good Friday.
Child of the Techno Age that he is, he couldn’t help showing off the latest ‘app’ on his iPhone – a decibel meter which measures noise levels.
“We were using a pneumatic drill on the farm the other day and it recorded a level of 92dBA,” intoned Morebottle knowingly. “It meant we had to wear ear protectors.”
So how did the Red Lion Sunday domino school rate? Wow! It peaked at 102 when Joe the Barber scooped the jackpot and held a steady 85 average throughout.
A pint of your best and a pair of earplugs, landlord!

SERVES her right, I suppose, but a somewhat bewildered Mrs Banks brought home a packet of potato crisps she’d been given in her picnic pack on completing the Alwinton Round charity walk last weekend.
“What do I do with these?” she asked, tossing my way her bag of – wait for it – Barbecued Kangaroo flavoured crisps. Yes, I really DID say kangaroo!
Leaving aside the fact that among the ingredients listed on the bag – potato, garlic, paprika, onion, smoke flavouring and so on – there wasn’t the merest mention of anything resembling ‘roo, who on earth would even KNOW what a skinned and scorched Skippy tastes like?
Crocodile Dundee, certainly; Kylie, possibly. But surely no one doing the North of Tyne Search and Rescue Team’s fundraising walk could distinguish the taste of a wombat from a wallaby? So wasn’t there a choice, I asked Mrs B. Was there nothing approaching what European tastebuds might recognise?
“Oh yes,” she replied. “I could have chosen French Baguette with Garlic, or German Bratwurst flavour, or . . .”
Strewth! Pass me a Skippy dipper, cobber.
First published in The Journal, Newcastle, July 4, 2010

Monday, 7 June 2010

Spot the (sports) story . . .

IT always comes as a shock to beancounters when negotiations with editors over World Cup or Olympics travel budgets founder on the same rocky argument.
“But you’re sending a team from the sports desk AND a team from the news desk,” wails the Man in the Pin-stripe Suit. “Surely it’s a sports story and can be covered by sports writers?”
“Not so,” replies the editor. “The sports writers will simply cover the sport.”
“Perfect!” yells the frantic money manager. “You’ll get what you want and we’ll save half the costs.”
“Afraid not, old boy,” says old smoothie-chops. “What we will GET is the organisers’ PR . . . what we will MISS are the bust-ups, the drugs scandals, the misbehaving WAGs and the drunken orgies.”
Mahogany Row sees sense in the end, of course: they agree to half the budget you asked and, as your application was for double the amount required, honours are even.
The Triesman Affair, on the other hand, was what one infamous Sun editor would have called “a reverse ferret”. The Mail on Sunday sting that ousted the noble Labour Lord from his chairmanships of the Football Association and of England’s team bidding to host the 2018 World Cup was a rather tawdry kiss and tell, obtained by means of a recording device hidden upon the person of a self-styled ex-girlfriend.
Now, if an editor is prepared to sidestep the tenth commandment of the PCC’s Code of Practice (Thou shalt not “seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using clandestine listening devices”) then we might at least expect a little more than a one-sided account of the old guy’s snogability in the back of a Wembley passion wagon.
Because, as one of Britain’s best investigative reporters yelled down the phone at me, “That was NOT the story!”
Since we worked together on the Express in Manchester in the Seventies, Andrew Jennings has spent forty years as an investigative reporter and documentary film maker. He’s a Panorama reporter now, with a string of glittering prizes including a Royal Television Society Award for his Channel Four investigation into Olympic corruption. That said, Jennings prefers to boast of the six-year ban imposed by a vengeful IOC and the current ‘freeze’ he’s suffering in dealings with FIFA President Sepp Blatter.
In other words, he’s a man worth listening to. So I listened.
“There’s something funny about this whole episode,” he began. “Stings are definitely an in-house, DIY operation. You don’t trust amateurs. You would NEVER ‘buy in’ a sting, that’s not something we’d ever do at Panorama.
“If an alleged ex-lover came to you with a tape you’ve got three choices: turn her away, turn her over or toss her a fee and investigate the allegations yourself with your own people.
“You trust your own staff, your fake sheikh or whoever. What you need is an experienced team that can get the story and who know what to do if and when it goes pear-shaped.”
Unsurprisingly, the MoS was letting its scoop do the talking: “he might think that but we couldn’t possibly comment”, was the official response from Peter Wright and his triumphant crew. But in Derry Street’s nearby watering holes journos shrugged off criticism of their tradecraft.
As they see it, this was a case of a slighted old flame getting lucky: she records the conversation to prove their relationship and, in the process, the head of the FA and World Cup bid badmouths the Russian and Spanish FA.
Kerr-CHING! It’s jackpot time.
To be fair to Wrighty and his team, the MoS did follow up their scoop a week later with a spread on bribery at the top of the international game.
Meanwhile, Jennings dismisses the scorn sports writers poured on Triesman’s claim that Russia might be prepared to help Spain pay off referees in the 2014 Wold Cup in exchange for Spain supporting Russia’s bid in 2018.
“Vladimir Putin is determined to stage the World Cup. It’s like a Big Willy contest with other world leaders but the difference is he’ll put money behind it. He won’t just go the extra mile; he’ll do a global circuit.
“He’s already won the 2014 Winter Olympics for Russia [at Sochi, a Black Sea resort] and now he wants the World Cup in 2018.”
Jennings is irrepressibly confident that there really is a big story behind the Triesman tittle-tattle. “I talk virtually every day with fellow journos, ‘football blazers’ and spooks,” he says. “This sort of talk comes up all the time.
“Too many sports journalists say nothing, afraid that if they spill the beans they’ll ‘lose access’. I’d warn them to produce or they’d lose their bloody jobs!
“It is utterly hypocritical of these self-regarding reporters to utter faux rage over Triesman's comments when such allegations are common currency in every press box, every bar and wherever a hack meets another hack, inquiry agent or football official.”
Strong stuff! But I commend to you the Jennings unrelenting output which so enrages the sporting Establishment.
It can be found on the maverick award investigator’s website at

I CAN’T help feeling that Murdochs père et fils have a hit list of enemies they’re working through in alphabetical order: having done their best to blitz the Barclay Brothers and bombard the BBC they’re now aiming their bile at the British Library.
Young James’s attack on the Library’s plan to digitise and make available behind an online paywall three centuries of Britain’s national newspaper collection is surely both outrageous and – in the widest sense of the word – antisocial.
One cannot copyright history, which is what news becomes almost before it reaches the breakfast table; even literary and musical masterpieces eventually pass into the public domain.
If the public’s right to access library-stored information cuts across the Murdochs’ quite reasonable determination to charge for their newsgathering investment then the answer must be some form of statute of limitations.
Let News charge for today’s Times and twelve months of archive access. After that, log on to the Library.
First published (well, MOST of it) in the Press Gazette, June 2010