The expenses wot I wrote after lunch with Eric


TERRY MANNERS reports on more meaningless bollox from the get-together of the World’s Greatest Lunch Club in Joe Allen on Wednesday, September 13. He points out there is no truth in the rumour that members are being offered ludicrous sums to star in a remake of Last of the Summer Wine, Fleet Street style.

Former Daily Express Royal Reporter Ashley Walton regaled us with another one of his Fleet Street tales. This time News Editor Brian Hitchen sent him to interview Eric Morecambe, recovering from heart troubles at his home.

‘You know Morecambe don’t you?” barked Hitch.

‘Well, yes, I did when I was a reporter on the Hemel Hempstead Echo. He lives in Harpenden. But …’

‘Get a bloody interview then!’

Sometime later Ash turned up at the Morecambe Mansion and knocked on the door.

Mrs Morecambe answered and Ashley explained that he knew Eric from interviews with the Echo - but she told him that her husband was taking things easy and wasn’t to be disturbed.

As he was about to leave a voice boomed down the hallway: ‘Who’s that at the door?’

‘It’s a reporter dear!’

On hearing Eric’s voice,Our Man Walton shouted: ‘It’s Ashley who interviewed you for the Echo.’

struan coupar

Eric, bored with his internment, invited Ash in and his wife then went out. After a chat Eric said to Ash, "Do you fancy a curry?” so they popped out for a very light lunch. Our intrepid reporter got the full exclusive interview, revealing of course, that he was now with the Express.

Some weeks later however Ashley put in his expenses to eagle-eyed Lone Star Marshal, Struan Coupar, pictured right.

‘What’s this? Does Walton think I was born yesterday?the irrepressible Managing Editor roared to Hitchen. ‘Twelve quid for lunch with Eric Morecambe? Don’t believe it!’  His red pen was fast and furious. Ashley was rightly miffed.

So he rang Eric at home and asked him to ring Coupar to verify the expenses, which Eric to his credit did. All sorted – well not quite.

Coupar burst into  Hitch’s office.

‘That bloody Walton – does he take me for a complete bloody fool? First of all he puts in a fake claim for twelve quid for a lunch with Eric Morecambe … and now he’s got someone phoning me up impersonating him. Do you think I was born yesterday?’

  Ashley never did get his 12 quid! Struan – pay up!


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