LORD DRONE’S MIGHTY FLEET STREET ORGAN,
THE WORLD’S GREATEST ONLINE NEWSPAPER
TUESDAY 27 FEBRUARY 2024
QUOTE OF THE DAY
All the happiness in the world can’t buy you money
— Toby Keith
THE ALTERNATIVE MEDIA DAILY
Our proud motto: We may not always be first with the news but we’re always wrong.
BY ROYAL DISAPPOINTMENT
CARTOON OF THE DAY
Morten Morland, The Times today
WE’RE ALL DOOMED!
(According to the Telegraph)
Four headlines from the Telegraph’s comment pages in recent weeks.
Britain has become a lawless country where good people have to live in fear
Western civilisation is being destroyed from within by forces we can’t control
I have glimpsed the terrifying future of lazy, defenceless, near-bankrupt Britain.”
For the first time in my life, I’m now beginning to think Britain is finished.
Surprise! Reach titles sink further after mass sackings
January was a bad month for Reach titles, according to ABC figures.
No surprise there, since they have sacked so many people. Today’s bosses, with the exception of Rupert Murdoch, do not understand that good journalism sells.
The Daily Star Sunday, Daily Star, Sunday Mail, Daily Record and Sunday Express all saw their circulations fall by 15 to 17% year-on-year.
The only paid-for newspaper to stay steady year-on-year was the Financial Times, on 115,118. Its newsstand sales were down 14% but subscriptions were up 3%.Month-on-month, the Daily Star Sunday saw the biggest decline of 8% to 73,103.
Digital did better. the Daily Mail’s digital edition had an average circulation of 87,571 in January, up 1% month-on-month and 2% year-on-year. The Mail on Sunday’s digital edition rose 2% month-on-month and 1% year-on-year to 89,326.
Only here for the Behan
Irish writer Brendan Behan was once invited to Oxford to take part in a debate about the difference between prose and poetry.
His opponent spoke for almost two hours. Behan rose to his feet and promised to be brief. He recited an old Dublin rhyme.
There was a young fella named Rollocks
Who worked for Ferrier Pollocks.
As he walked on the strand
With a girl by the hand
The water came up to his ankles.
"That," declared Behan, "is prose. But if the tide had been in it would have been poetry."
The Daily Express Poem
You’ll Never See a Nipple in the Daily Express
By JOHN COOPER CLARKE, 1976
Expressman Nick hurt in bike crash
Former Express features sub Nick Hill is recovering after falling off his bike at the age of 80. He sustained 10 broken ribs after a van pulled out in front of him throwing him on to the road. He is now back home after five days in hospital.
WankerOfTheWeek. ‘One friend, a normally sane 55-year-old man, told me he “took two days off work” to recover from One Day’, Hadley Freeman tells the Sunday Times.
As Chris Buckland, LOTP, memorably wrote in an intro: ‘The first casualty of war is room service.’ But truth comes a close second. Israel may stand accused of genocide but Douglas Murray argues in The Spectator that it demonstrably isn’t genocide and is ‘not even regionally remarkable’. Truth: Syria’s President Assad has murdered 600,000 Arab Muslims in the last 10 years. Truth: the UN estimates that 337,000 have been killed in Yemen. Why no shrill protests, marches, vigils over these victims?
Heavy rain over six months has transformed Death Valley, California, usually one of the driest places on earth. A temporary lake has formed in Badwater Basin which is 282ft and, geologically, America’s lowest point. But wetbobs better hurry: Sumer is icumen in/Equinox approcheth/And natur ruleth once agen.
Caine’sCorner. Britain’s most popular dog is the Goldendoodle. There are 995 wannabe buyers for every puppy. NMPKT.
StatsLife(ParkingSpecial). A car spends 95% of its life just being parked. West Edmonton mall in Canada has 20,000 parking spots. New York City is currently owed $1 billion in unpaid parking and speeding tickets. 57% of UK drivers’ heart rates rocket as they attempt to parallel park, says Auto Trader. VW’s software company is testing a smart system that uses robots to guide cars to free parking spaces and automatically charge EVs. And a survey in Hersham … (Enough parking crap — Ed)
LeaveMeghanAlone. A ‘body language expert’ reveals to an incredulous Mirror that Her Radiance’s habit of ostentatiously holding hands with her hunk is indicative of how loved-up the couple are. Their interlocking fingers with the palms pressed together apparently display the deeply intimate nature of their bond. See, I told you Harry was in good hands.
RuralRides. On Saturday, May 4 there will be a coffee morning at Frame Hampton Church, which will include a sale of second hand jigsaws (proceeds to the Bring Back The Boys campaign). *****
We’ve all done it (actually I haven’t) and now Apple has issued new guidance on what to do if you drop your mobile into water. The time-honoured method of drying your device by putting it into uncooked rice is a now a no-no, don’t you know. Rice particles could get into the handset and cause lasting damage. Using a hairdryer is also not recommended. Instead, the advice is to tap the phone against your hand with the charging port pointing down and wait 30 minutes. Best of luck with that.
An American spacecraft has touched down on the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972. Houston firm Intuitive Machines successfully landed its Odysseus rover near the lunar south pole and zzzzzz. Sorry— dropped off there.
SillyLinkOfTheWeek. Huge Fire Burns Down Sir Alf Ramsey’s Favourite Hotel — Telegraph (Alf died 25 years ago).
HeadsUp. Stuff subbed short. Thieves in Alabama steal metal radio mast to sell for scrap. Quite a heist: it was 200ft.
Mystery as female stingray becomes pregnant despite there being no males in her North Carolina aquarium.
Apple faces a $539 million fine by the EU over allegations it thwarted music streaming rivals such as Spotify on its platforms.
Starbucks in China is offering a new drink to mark the Lunar New Year: braised pork latte. It mixes espresso, steamed milk and pork sauce garnished with a slice of pork and (Stop! — Ed)
Just Fancy That
When cricket junkie Tim Rice (79 going on 105 not out) moved into Hambleden village on the Oxford/Bucks border the removals man asked him why he had chosen Hambleden. ‘Because it was the birthplace of the great game,’ came the reply. ‘No mate, that’s Hambledon with an O in Hampshire, this is Hambleden with an E.’ NMPKT including, obvs, Sir Tim.
In the late ‘60s Michael Caine, ace snapper Terry O’Neil and tailor to the stars Dougie Hayward met regularly for breakfast in a Jewish bagel bar just off Berkeley Square. They were in there eating scrambled eggs one morning when a visiting German bemoaned the fact that bagels could not be found in his native Munich. ‘Well who do think is to blame for that?’ said Hayward, not best known for his diplomacy.
Sour grapes for Pilger
Better known for his investigative journalism, film-making and campaigning, obituaries to John Pilger didn't make much of his talents as a winemaker – and with good reason, reports Popbitch.
Many years ago, John invited a bunch of friends out to his house in Italy. They were sitting on the patio, opening a bottle, when Pilger announced "That's my vineyard at the end of this garden. The wine you are drinking comes from there."
"Hmmm," said one of his cattier friends, taking a sip. "Doesn't travel well, does it?"
ALEX COLLINSON writes: I’m reminded of a magic moment on Mirror features back in the days of glue pots, scissors and copy paper. A sub took to making wine at home and tried to flog bottles of the hideous brew to colleagues, which prompted one wag to post a comment on the features noticeboard: What’s the difference between Kev’s Valpolicella and a bucket of camel urine? Answer: the bucket.
PETER MICHEL adds: There was a lovely follow-up to that magic moment at the Mirror. The following day someone pinned up a picture of Henry VIII with him saying: "I was having trouble dissolving the monasteries until I discovered Kev’s Valpolicella.”
NOSEBAGS AT NOON
Well, it was one o’clock actually but we never let the facts get in the way of a lousy headline. Anyway, to get to the matter in hand, four former Express old stagers met for lunch in London’s Chinatown yesterday.
Pictured, from left, are Jon Zackon, Kath Whitbourn, John Ingham and Alastair McIntyre, who was wearing a woolly jumper especially designed to hide the gravy stains.
(BONFIRE OF THE SUBS)
Spotted by Rae Lewis in the Telegraph. Note the excellent juxtaposition of ‘thrown’ and ‘up’.
HOW TO HACK A CELEB’S PHONE
Flashback from Popbitch, 13 March, 2002
Which newspaper showbiz desk has a trick for getting stories out of celebs' mobile phones? (Two hacks simultaneously call a celeb's mobile. One gets the answerphone, and types in 9, followed by 3333. If the hapless celeb hasn't changed the default access code, the hack gets their messages, and can even delete them afterwards to cover their tracks).
News in Brief
Google is rebranding generative AI chat tool Bard after its AI model Gemini because "Gemini is evolving to be more than just the models. It supports an entire ecosystem — from the products... to the APIs and platforms helping developers and businesses innovate". (Google)
X and Threads rival Bluesky received 800,000 sign ups in its first day open to the public, increasing its user base by about a quarter. It remains some way behind its competitors for active users, however. You can find us on Bluesky here. (Techcrunch)
The Telegraph has joined podcast network Acast, so all the UK's major news publishers are there (including BBC, News UK, Guardian, New Statesman, FT, Tortoise and The Economist). The Telegraph said it is "putting significant investment into our podcast production capabilities for 2024 and beyond".
Ofcom has declined to investigate complaints about GB News presenter Neil Oliver sharing a Covid vaccine-linked "turbo cancer" conspiracy theory. The regulator said the "brief comments" were his personal view and "did not materially mislead". (The Times)
British journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown, who edits the Sarawak Report website, has been sentenced to two years in jail in absentia for criminal defamation in Malaysia. She says it is political and plans to appeal against her conviction and sentence. (Free Malaysia Today)
Eight reporters who say they were attacked by police while covering the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis in 2020 have received a $950,000 settlement from the city's government. (Newsguild)
Former GB News host Mark Steyn has been ordered to pay $1m to a climate scientist for defamation with another blogger ordered to pay $1,000. The US judge dismissed claims against their publishers, the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. (Financial Times)
The Bedford Independent has added a "good news only" filter to website in response to comments about local news being negative. "We know, as far as our reporting is concerned, that is simply not true." 32% of content on the site is now tagged as good news. (Bedford Independent)
The Times issued a correction after a column claimed a Government-commissioned report on the Teesworks development "contradicted several linchpin claims made in Private Eye". (The Times)
Source: Press Gazette
Frank’s thriller for charity
Frank Malley, deputy sports editor of the Daily Express in the 1990s, is hoping his latest venture will help raise cash for charity this Christmas.
Malley turned to writing thriller novels after leaving journalism and his most recent crime series has been turned into a box set under the title Code Breaker.
"It's a three-book series, incorporating The 13th Assassin, The Hit List and The Killing Circle, the latter having been released in October," said Frank. "They all surround the life of the main character, a reluctant spook called Emily Stearn, and her traumatic adventures in the secret intelligence service. The action sweeps from Moscow to Paris to London. They are fast-paced standalone stories but best read in order."
Royalties from the omnibus, as with the standalone novels, go to the Primrose Cancer charity based at Bedford Hospital.
The Kindle version of Code Breaker, published by Sharpe Books, is available from Amazon at a bargain £4.99.
ONLY IN THE DRONE
Our top columnists
Perfectly good advert ruined by a wrongly placed comma and a stray apostrophe
The other Welsh rugby legend
The world of rugby has mourned two Welsh stars in the past few weeks, JPR Williams and Barry John, but one hero is still with us — Keith Jarrett. On his debut in 1967 as an 18-year-old fresh out of Monmouth School, Jarrett scored 19 points in Wales’ 34-21, thumping victory against England. ROGER WATKINS went to school with Jarrett, pictured in the great game, and recalls the adulation heaped on the other Welsh legend.
Yesterday’s men have lunch
Five elderly hacks from the old Daily Express met for a glass of lunch at Boulevard Brasserie in London’s Covent garden. There were a few senior moments: One member lost both his train tickets and had to buy two more, one nearly lost his wallet, another was off the booze on doctor’s orders and one will be 80 in a few weeks.
Many old anecdotes were exchanged for the umpteenth time and it was agreed that in future all jokes will be given a number. This will save time as one member just has to shout out, say 34, and we’ll all fall about laughing
Attending the February meeting of the World’s Greatest Lunch Club are, from left, Alastair McIntyre, Alan Frame, Chris Williams (on a wayzgoose from Glasgow), Roger Watkins and Dick Dismore.
THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY
The year is 1986 and the three subs in the centre are celebrating their handsome voluntary redundancy pay-offs at the Daily Express Fleet Street offices in London. Several are no longer with us and are marked with a asterisk *
Pictured from left: Peter Caney*, Alastair McIntyre, redundo trio John ‘Bertie’ Brookes*, Dan McDonald*, and Denis Brierley; Geoff Compton, Les Diver*, and Roger Watkins. Terry Ryle is behind Dennis Brierley who has disappeared without trace but is hopefully still with us
Bet you can’t hack this phone, Piers
STEVE MILL writes: Mlud, regarding your item on hacking celebs' mobiles, I attach a photo of an American Systems Mark 900 Briefcase Phone from the 1960s.
The purchaser of this box of tricks was a long time resident of Memphis Tennessee and owned a large property on Elvis Presley Boulevard. The former truck driver turned entertainer even wrote out some easy to follow instructions, see below. It was a much simpler time.
Message reads: Use channel YS or JL. Ask for mobile operator then give her your number which is YJ79896, then the number you are trying to reach
MAXWELL: Banana skins? Coffin wedged in a plane’s hold? Sorry, this
is the REAL truth about Captain Bob
Larger than life, and in death
Why we weren’t ready for Eddy
HEADLINE OF THE WEEK
From Metro — the wording could have been worse, we guess
The Daily Drone is published, financed and edited by Alastair ‘Bingo’ McIntyre with contributions from the veteran journalists of old Fleet Street, London’s boulevard of broken dreams. Dedicated to scribblers everywhere.
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