Jameson, anything but a yobbo



WHOEVER it was at Private Eye who gave Derek Jameson the soubriquet Sid Yobbo clearly didn't know the man. Despite his gravelly Cockney voice he was anything but a yobbo.

He was, quite simply, the nicest, cleverest and most-talented editor I had the pleasure to work for in my 32 years on the Daily Express.

I have one enduring memory of his kindness. Derek appreciated the craft of the sub-editor so he decided to give us all an outing. We went to an exclusive preview of the John Travolta film Grease at a private cinema in London followed by dinner at a restaurant whose name I forget.

At the end of the meal, Derek called over the maitre d' and asked him for all the receipts for that day. He then proceeded to give one to each member of staff, telling us to claim the amount on expenses which he promised to approve. 

It was a lottery. Some people got a small amount, others did a lot better. But that wasn't the point, it was the gesture that mattered.

That meant a lot to the subs who, even then, were the unsung heroes of newspapers.

David 'Golly' Hardy says he has nothing but warm memories of Derek. He writes (with slightly moist eyes): 'I recall being somewhat concerned when Lloyd Turner met me in the tobacconist up the road from Express Towers and told me that the editor wanted to meet me a few days after I'd got the job.

'No need to worry. Derek welcomed me into his office and we chatted about Manchester and the barmaid with big tits at The Swan With Two Necks in Withy Grove.

'Finally he turned to me and said: 'I hope you do well here. You could go a fucking sight further and do a fucking sight worse – and by the looks of you, you have.'

'You simply would have to want to work for a bloke like that.'

Steve 'Biffo' Wood recalls: I remember being in a small group in the Pop when the ghastly Bernard Workman was addressing Derek and anyone else within bullshit range about how wonderful it was to be Welsh. 

BW paused briefly, bent forward and emptied the evening's mix of beer and canteen sausages onto the already distressed Poppinjay carpet. Many, included Derek, caught a few splashes on their shoes.

When he had finished, the Puker of the Valleys regained an upright posture and continued his oration. DJ never batted an eyelid, waited until Workman had finished and left politely to take a look at the third edition, muttering 'Thank you for that contribution, Bernard.'

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre