A sub normal night on The Sun

vic mayhen

VIC MAYHEW of The Sun, who died on June 18th, 2015 aged 77


Here is my favourite Vic Mayhew story – and I know it’s true because I was there.

It belongs to The Sun’s days in Bouverie Street, long before the advent of computerisation or the image-tarnishing expulsion of printers.

One night, close on midnight, those of us left on duty were working to finish the third edition. The mood was subdued as night editor Vic handed out pages. Earlier, he’d had a few in the Peanut Parlour. The subs had had a few. Everyone had had a few. 

Kevin Moran, one of the subs, was handed a story written with a mildly pro-Tory bias. Kevin, a scouser, was a political animal. Not for nothing was he known as Red Kev. He read the copy, stayed quiet for about thirty seconds, stood up, threw it on his desk and declared. “This is a heap of old shit. I’m fucked if I’m going to sub it.”

He turned to fellow Liverpudlian Vic and cried: “You should be fucking ashamed of yourself, putting shit like this in the paper. You big twat. You spineless fucking toady.”

Or words to that effect.

Vic replied in kind: “You’re a fooking professional, aren’t you? Just sub the fooking thing so we can all go home.”

This only served to drive Kevin to greater heights of abuse towards the paper in general and Vic in particular. With little regard for what we would these days call man management, Vic hurled back a string of choice epithets best left unreported. Anyone who knew him will tell you he was really good at swearing.

After a few more rounds, with the vituperation beginning to grow a little repetitive, Vic said, “Right! I’ve had enough, you bastard leftie. Come and see me in my office … NOW!” And he stomped off down the corridor.

Normally, Kevin would have either sworn back at him or simply ignored the order. But he was clearly up for a fight. With eyes aflame and a menacing grin he strode after Vic and they disappeared into the office.

The rest of us were left in a vacuum. Minutes passed. Concern began to turn to anxiety. Were they tearing each other apart physically? Was this the end of a great night editor? Could Kevin be sacked for refusing to sub a story? And what about the small matter of the third edition, destined in those days to go to about two million homes in London and the Home Counties?

More minutes. More silence. Something had to be done.

One of the backbenchers plucked up courage and went off down the corridor. He tapped gently on the door of Vic’s office, opened it a squeak and looked in.

On the wall was a dart board. Paper clips had been used to fix on to it an A4 sized photograph of a gentleman with extremely familiar features.

Vic and Kevin, bottles of beer in hand, were giggling hysterically … as they threw darts at the head of their editor, Larry Lamb.

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre