Dear Lord Drone — Strolling through recent letters, I came across a missive from someone who charmingly signs himself Tenerife Tel and it struck me that if Mail Online gets rid of Desperate Dan Wootton, this chap from the Canary Islands would make the perfect replacement. Their views on Prince Harry, for example, appear to be so similar that any transition would be seamless. 

I will not — nay, cannot — argue Tel’s sabre thrusts into the character of the not-so-young Harry. He is foolish, naive, vain, short of a few brain cells (as is the entire Royal Family), blaming, complaining and in possession of most of the other negative qualities that are cut and pasted by tabloid journalists.

But if there was a time, perhaps the first and only time, when Harry demonstrated a previously well-hidden genius, it was in the act of Getting Out. He prised open the bars of the gilded cage, scaled the Palace walls in a single bound and hot-footed it as fast — and as far away — as his little legs could carry him. 

That he immediately collected in excess of a hundred million from even more naive broadcasters and publishers is worthy of nothing less than total admiration.  

Who cares that Harry doesn’t know how the Press works?  He may well lose the case but he's having fun squeezing the lemon. 



Sir — Dick Dismore's dissection of the decline of the Daily Express is spot on. What a sad tale of neglect, incompetence and bad judgement!

I can add another dimension. After abandoning the ill-conceived DX80 in the late 1970s, the Express went tabloid — belatedly following the revamp of the Daily Mail by David English in 1971.

To the surprise of many, the tabloid launched well and began clawing back some of the circulation lost after decades of clueless management and a raft of mainly ineffective editors (I worked with eight).

But within weeks shipping tycoon and Express publishing new boy Lord Matthews decided to launch the Daily Star to soak up print capacity in Manchester. Inevitably, the instruction went out to the Express to row back on its lively presentation to give the new paper a chance. "Let the Star do the exciting stuff."

Dumbing up? How to confuse, and lose, readers.




Sir — in the matter of Dismore v Frame, I find for Dismore and award costs accordingly.


El Vino


Sir — The trouble with you is that you wouldn’t know a good picture if it bit you on the bum and gnawed away at the subcutaneous fat lying therein. What has happened to that nostalgic portrait of Fleet Street’s Famous Five which enhanced the Drone and gave it much needed credibility? Are we consigned to be mere overmatter now?


All right, all right, I surrender — Ed


My Dear Lord Drone,

I am all for the Covid Inquiry. Of course, we must take a long, hard look at where we went wrong and right while fighting this batty virus that killed at will. But I have lost count of the number of politicians and members of the public appearing on TV and writing in the Press, to turn this period of our history into a witch hunt as blood thirsty as the Pendle witch trials of 1612.

For instead of trampling the innocent witches to death under doors laid across their heads, as they did in York 400 years ago, they want to see people lose their careers, pensions and be jailed … or go on parole with benefits. As one lady said to TV cameras in the street: “It’s all that Matt Hancock’s fault. He’s guilty. Apologies are no good!” Guilty? Really? Of what? Guilty before charged and no evidence heard?

Of course, people are emotionally upset about not being able to say farewell to their loved ones or tend to their relatives. But their friends and kin were killed by a mystery coronavirus probably from the sinister depths of a murky Chinese cave laboratory, plotting destruction of the West, not our health minister at the time; the Tory Party or Boris.The world didn't know what to do.

The Covid-19 Inquiry has been set up to examine the UK’s response to and impact of the pandemic and learn lessons for the future. Not provide modern-day stocks to satisfy peoples’ bloodlust.

This, of course, is party celebration cake time for Labour and LibDems. They appear to be revelling in it after failing to come up with even hindsight policies to tackle immigration, the cost of living and rising interest rates. Nowhere was the anger felt more strongly against this witch hunt than on my recent visit to my nephew’s pickled onion stall at the Neasden Omnibus union’s charity market day in No. 232’s maintenance depot.

One-handed Willy, son of Wally Foot, Neasden FC’s iconic and legendary one-legged goalkeeper, had turned my crusty shallots into a fine jar of golden brown pickled onions for his stall, boasting his own merlot and lemonade recipe. (One of your writer Richard Dismore’s favourite tipples, I have been told).

Willy Foot, who gave up a promising cricket career because he struggled to bat one-handed and has followed in his father’s footstep as goalkeeper for the plucky side which came close to scoring a goal last season, invited me to the works canteen famed for its culinary skills. Over a hot dog and onions, the lads and lasses all agreed that most members of the public hadn’t got a clue what went on in government … or could even do the job. Even tea lady Agnes McTwerker had to admit that she thought ISIS was a washing powder. Why do these people have the vote workers asked?

Seat fitter, Mohammed Backsaw had the last word. “I like that Matt Hancock, Did you know that he sent me free Vitamin D tablets and a personal letter during Lockdown?”

So there, you have it M’Lud. Another moan about England today from Neasden. As if moving the grave of hero Dambuster Wing Co Guy Gibson’s faithful and now nameless black Labrador from its grave next to his hanger at Scampton to make way for thousands of illegal male immigrants, hadn’t upset them enough.

And now even the RAF admit they have done it because they say that in today’s England stories of our historic war glory are changed and tampered with to pamper with the beliefs of others who weren’t even there. Thank God, the RAF snatched our hero’s dog away.

TENERIFE TEL, born within the sound of Neasden depot’s bus bells.  


Sir — While taking my afternoon nap aboard a French river boat — as one does — I was awakened by a knock on my cabin door. 

Imagine my surprise when a smiling King Charles appeared dressed in a bright blue suit and red striped tie. Ahoy! I said, springing from my bunk. But His Majesty disappeared in a flash, leaving me royally baffled.

Had I merely experienced the well-documented British phenomenon of dreaming about the Monarch? 

Was it, perhaps, the consequence of a surfeit of the best of Burgundy at lunch?

Or was there some deeper astrological significance in this visitation? Could Drone savant and noted crystal-ballster G R Petulengro-Frame, maybe provide guidance? We are both fervent royalists. Or at least I am.




M'lud — An item catches my eye regarding The Body Coach aka Joe Wicks. He hosted a 20 minute High Intensity Interval Training ( HIIT) session at Glastonbury on Friday. 

This reminds me of a memo that circulated around the Express back in the 70's regarding Special High Intensity Training ( SHIT), and the question posed at the end of the memo was "Are you getting enough SHIT on the job?"

They don't write 'em like that anymore.



Sir – What's all this hoo-ha about Artificial Intelligence? If it gets uppity, just pull the plug out of the wall.


Petts Wood


Dear Lord Drone, even being a Royalist like yourself, I am sadly coming to the end of Harry weeping ice buckets of tears into his Harrods decanter over his life-long agony of being a royal at the mercy of the ‘nasty’ tabloid Press.

For when I scratch the surface of his endless stories of misery I find a deeper reasoning behind his journey from the private Lindo wing of St Mary’s Hospital, London, where he had his first wail in Victoria’s royal birth shawl … to Buckingham Palace and on to a £12million mansion in the gated community of Montecito, California.

He simply does not like what people say about him in newspapers. It is not his own narrative.

Taking telephone hacking off the hook for a moment, his evidence in court is littered with his hatred of headlines and true newspaper reports of what he has done in his unhappy life, or about to do. These are hurtful and cut him to the core, he says. Worse, they have ruined him. The fact that they are true, cuts no ice for his Macallan whiskey.

His break-up with Zimbabwean millionaire Chelsy Davy for example was even blamed on the ‘prying eyes’ of the Press. His girlfriends, his drinking nights out and public parties, are out of bounds apparently. What is it he wants in his great crackdown on the media? Does he want a Commons committee to approve every headline? Must they ignore stories about the Royals unless they are marching at funerals? What?

He claims of course that such stories are gathered illegally. But he is his own evidence. There seems to be no other. Fact is that like so many  people he does not know how the Press works in chasing up leads and reports. At the Express of course, we have had chief executives who didn’t know either. We never had the luxury of a Rupert Murdoch or a young Rothermere. People generally don’t know how the jigsaw of a newsroom fits together. Accountants ruled and there was no middle ground.

There is little doubt that there is a taxi rank of the rich and famous queuing up behind the anguished, multi-millionaire helicopter commander to crush the media. They sucked up to the Press in their early years, desperate for fame, but now want to be left to their spoils from the public money they took.

But such fame seekers should beware that even in the canteen of the Dollis Hill bus depot, where a picture of Neasden FC’s famed one-legged goalkeeper, Wally Foot, hangs over the tea urn, the lads and lasses of our country respect and want, the Freedom of the Press. Or they might not have a voice at all.


Dollis Hill, north of Buckingham Palace.


My dearest Lord Drone, just what is it that upsets your prophet of politics, Petulengro-Frame, about our Crusading defender of the Dover beaches, Baroness Braverman of Rwanda?

Who else will echo the voices of the silent majority behind the net curtains of windows from Guildford and Barnstaple to Redcar and Dollis Hill, if not her?

But as the boats keep flooding in with hundreds, nay thousands, of African illegal male immigrants seeking new Nikes and Samsungs, Petulengro tells us with glee that our champion’s days are numbered, and her dreams will be sunk in the incoming tide.

I write to you during a break in our George Formby ukulele lessons at Neasden Town Hall, where patriots have been discussing the reaction to Petulengro’s forecasts of doom. Not least from the eminent Lord Luck this week.

Nearly 200,000 British young ‘uns are homeless; many more are hungry; hospital waiting lists grow; schools overcrowded; government borrowing at a record high and food banks out of cornflakes but still the crisp-munching Linekers of this world sleepwalk through it all.

People waiting for St Braverman to fall off her mount, should remember that polls often get things wrong. As Labour waits to hand out leaflets on our beaches on how to vote for them and the BBC brands Braverman’s army of voters as Far Right nutters, watch this space.


Dollis Hill, Neasden.


Sir — It would seem that, for all his braggadocio, your resident soothsayer GR Petulengro-Frame has been wrong again regarding the sacking/non-sacking of the sainted Suella Braverman.

Was it a poor reading of his tea-leaves, perhaps, or the fact that Jupiter did not leave Orion and move into conjunction with Mars, that led to his wildly inaccurate prediction?

To avoid the further tainting of our proud profession, may I suggest he either repays Your Lordship’s generous retainer, or else takes his crystal balls in both hands and announces to the world an actual time and date of the good lady’s dismissal.


Cosa Nostradamus



Sir — In my role (unpaid of course) as Drone Resident Seer I have had to endure scorn, derision, mockery and many other things that mean the same. It was my forecast of the demise of Baroness Braverman of Rwanda which unleashed the vitriol aimed at my gifts as clairvoyant. 

So ye cynics, what price do you give her chances now? It’s not as if little Rishi will go out of his way to save her, not when she has spent much of the week auditioning for his job. When not trying to avoid a speed awareness course that is.

Mark my words, the woman’s a wrong’un. She’ll be on her way in no time. But don’t pin me down for exact hour and day.

Yrs expectantly,



My dearest Lord Drone, 

Richard Dismore’s informative and enlightening Dispatches From The Front which focused on among other issues, Russia, where the only political swing will probably be Putin hanging from a lamp post, was well received by the patriotic Republic of Neasden.

And nowhere more so than in the saloon of The Royal Oak, where the night shift from the paint shop of the Neasden bus depot, erupted with anger as Putin’s mouthpiece Dmitry Kiselyov told news reporters that Moscow would Nuke London, Sunak and all, using a deadly underwater drone that would trigger a tidal wave plunging Blighty to the depths of the ocean.

“Come ‘ere and ‘ave some of this, then,” shouted one of the lads, shaking his fist at the screen in time-honoured Dollis Hill tradition. It is no wonder that your correspondent Mr Dismore is so popular on the walls of pubs and gents’ garden toilets, where make-do fan pictures of his look-alike, the late actor Jason King, adorn the walls and where ban-the-bomb marchers are banned.

In his piece Mr Dismore reminds us that Putin used the May Day Victory Parade to reinforce his own narrative about WWII, accusing the West of creating a new cult of Nazism and of forgetting who it was who defeated Hitler.

What on earth do these apparatchik bullies think would happen to them if they started slinging nukes around at Nato and Neasden? Do they really think they could return to their vodka bottles in their dachas? The lads in the paint shop have other ideas. The Kremlin should be wary. This is the land of Nelson, Wellington and Montgomery. 

Putin needs to be reminded that he won WWII with 7,500 British planes and 6,000 British tanks … not ‘the loneliest little tank in the world’ he shed a tear for at the May Day parade. 


Neasden Hysterical Society. 


My dearest Lord Drone, another piece of dying national pride has been brought to my attention by union members of the Neasden Omnibus seat fitters and emergency stop lever installers, who, as you know are fiercely patriotic, in a company that once employed ex-Royal Hussars as drivers and conductors when their regiment was disbanded in 1958.

They are outraged that RAF Scampton, the home of the legendary and heroic Dambusters and latterly, the Red Arrows, is, as you know, being partly bulldozed to make way for an army of 2000 African male migrants. Already, signage on the fences where bus outings from Neasden brought workers’ families for picnics, have been ripped down and even the Red Arrows monument has vanished. There are no gates either.

But worse, the grave and monument to a famous and much-loved, unnamed dog is about to be bulldozed. I am talking of course about the loyal black Labrador pet of our hero Wing Commander Guy Gibson, VC, DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar. We shall call his pet Blackie for the sake of political politeness following the race relations row over his real name.

Blackie was killed by a car at the base, shortly before Wing Commander Gibson flew on his famous raid to bomb the Möhne Dam. Some say it was a driver at the base with a grudge against Gibson.

The row to stop the base being used rumbles on and protestors joined by Neasden omnibus depot patriots, have lost their first legal battle. A bus trip from Dollis Hill to the site is planned and already the RAF has appealed to the local council, to save the site of Blackie, which could be moved. Your readers can find out more in their newspapers. Badges issued soon.

Dollis Hill, Neasden.


M’lud, the recent headline in your mighty organ “Just a flong at twilight” reminds of the occasion when Daily Star exec Andy Carson vented his spleen across the Manchester newsroom even more vociferously than usual. 

The story was that a neighbourhood was upset by a local business allowing one of its chimneys to emit an obnoxious smell at the same time every day, around teatime. 

These were hot metal days and Andy proudly sent his hand-written headline to the composing room…”Just a pong at twilight.” Cue an apoplectic Carson 20 minutes later when the stone sub rang the back bench. “Andy, your headline has bust. Can I make it Just a pong at dusk.”

Your loyal servant



My Dear Lord Drone, there is an air of bewilderment about the Neasden Omnibus Depot in Dollis Hill, where my uncle is Shop Steward of the seat fitters for route 112 via Gladstone Hill and Willesden.

With a strong tradition of being Royalists, even staging their walkouts at Queen Victoria Gardens or Gladstone Park, they are running a book on why Harry gave his father, the King, the gift of an ink pot on his accession to the throne ... when Charles is forbidden to touch one under the strict rules of Royal protocol in case he makes a mess signing official documents and stains his robes.

Uncle Tom Cobblers sought my advice in the matter but as our dearest friend, former Royal Correspondent Ashley Walton, is sadly no longer with us, I had nowhere to go for the answer. Can you help? 

My own experience of ink pots is through audiences with Sir Nicholas Lloyd as the print clock was ticking and I waited patiently to get Page One approved in his office while he concentrated on filling his Mont Blanc in deadly silence, for what always seemed a lifetime. 

Twiggy Borough of Neasden  


Sir — May I dissociate myself from the tedious ramblings of your Faith-based correspondents, whom I don’t know from Adam, and assure your lordship that I will continue to give the Drone 100% support.




Sir — If you persist in publishing the inaccurate and tedious ramblings of fantasists and charlatans we will have no alternative but to cancel our subscription to the Daily Drone.


Sir — Us, too.


Sir — Me, also.


Sir — Och aye.



My Dearest Lord Drone — I seek use of your renowned Mighty Organ to wrestle with your columnist William Dumpster who reported I was obsessed with a morbid fascination into the life and particularly death of 50s/60s pop icon Adam Faith.

It is true that I was always a fan of the tussle-haired blond lad in the black leather jacket who burst on to the pop scene with his hit What Do You Want (If You Don’t Want Money). And then went on to make £41million before being declared bankrupt and died broke in the Stoke Hotel I often stayed in.

But I now have it on good authority that his last words to a vet’s receptionist he was privately entertaining, were not ‘what good value BBC2 was’ but … according to a highly-placed newspaper source of mine: ‘watching TV together, Adam turned to her in bed and said (along the lines of) “what a load of shit there is on Channel 4…’ – and then he died!”

Of course, none of this may be true. Nor the fact that she worked in a vet’s. She worked in a Kent mobile phone shop, I am told.

However, to all the people who wrote to me about the snippet, some saying it is a load of Fleet St bollocks and others who share my fascination for famous people who died, I can confirm I keep a diary of all the seats of the famous and dead I have sat on …

They are many and include: 

1. Sitting on Scotland’s Stone of Destiny (The Stone of Scone) sat on by Scottish Kings back to the ninth century for their coronations. It was stolen in 1950 and returned to Edinburgh in the late 1990s. Charles will sit on it.

2. Sitting sipping chardonnay on the stone seat Napoleon rested while drinking brandy as he counted his warships in Valletta Harbour.   

3. Sitting on his seat in legendary actor Oliver Reed’s favourite drinking haunt in Malta, The Pub. He fell off it and died after drinking eight pints of lager, 12 double rums and half a bottle of whiskey, during which time he won an arm-wrestling contest with the crew of HMS Cumberland. The seat is now a shrine. I thank you.


Still sitting down


Sir — This Dominic Raab saga is a load of bollocks in my view. Bullying? Aggression? Intimidation? The snowflakes have seen nothing. 

I worked with someone who punched me on the arm, threatened to smash my chest in, made me eat chips even when I was on a diet and over-filled my copy basket forcing me to make choices. Worst of all, he belittled me by asking me if I’d ever thought of being a journalist when I thought I was one.


Truth and Reconciliation Suite

Flying Fuck


Sir — I must be Number 10,002 on your list of the usual suspects who witnessed Kelvin MacKenzie's famous fucking off of Felicity Green. 

The incident, recalled in my memoir What Genius Wrote This? (Matador, 2018, now pulping), happened during the extraordinary few weeks of Kelvin's reign as simultaneously Night Editor of the Daily Express and Editor of The Sun.

With both managements eyeballed in a legal stand-off, Kelvin was in his element, legging it nightly between the two papers, mocking poor editor Arthur Firth, pissing off the night lawyers and giving short shrift to Deputy Editor Ted Dickinson, not to mention Ms Green.

Lord Maffews finally sacked Firth, Kelvin scuttled up the road to Bouverie Street glory. The era of Christopher Ward — all trendy boots and oversized specs — dawned on the Express, and we all know how that ended.

Incidentally, the features' subs had much ruder names for the lady in question. In deference to her great age I shall forbear to mention them.




Sir — If Sir Keir Starmer believes the percentage of women who don’t have penises is only 99.9%, my neighbour reckons he must be suffering from Penile Dementia.


Up The Red North

M'lud, — I have good reason to remember the flong mentioned in the Press Gazette article. During my earliest days at the Express, (mid 70s) I was tasked with retrieving the flong cases from the front hall and bringing them up to the second floor post room. Large metal cases that weighed a ton, you'd think they were filled with lead bars. My memory is that the cases only contained rolls of newspapers and not the flong itself.

Jargon not mentioned could include, from the art desk, WOT's and BOT's. White on tone and black on tone I believe.

Re Garth Pearce's memories of the Fleet Street Express, journalists from this era will recall hammering out their stories on six or nine-part carbon paper. 

An example of how different the working atmosphere was back then,  I clearly remember hearing a member of the Daily Express Features Dept, (no names but you'll guess the identity quite easily ) bellowing across the vast expanse of Aitken House to a fellow journalist, "Oi Wiggy you old shirt lifter!" There were categorically no safe spaces back then!

Mind you, you could get three pints and change from a pound, so it wasn't all bad.


Former DX editorial assistant

By cleft stick


Sir -- I fell asleep in front of the telly this week, and when I woke up I thought I was back in Africa. I had to put on subtitles to follow some of the characters in a police drama before I realised it was set in Brighton. And the adverts for funeral insurance and car sales seemed to be aimed at the population of Soweto.

I opened a window half expecting to see herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across my front lawn. Fortunately the lashing wind and freezing rain brought me back to reality.




Sir — What a fabulously nostalgic piece by my old mucker Garth Pearce. All the names he dredged up in his article brought back fond memories of life in one of the great Fleet Street newsrooms. 

When I joined the Daily Express in 1972 Derek Marks was editor, one of, I think, ten editors I worked under at the paper. He was a very large man with an expanding waist, a former political correspondent who did something no other editor did in my time on the Express. He put up a daily bulletin on a board which picked out what he liked in the paper that day. It was always my dream as a young reporter to be mentioned in dispatches in that bulletin. 

I had joined the paper as a reporter on Action Line run by Bob Millar who wanted me to find stories amongst the plethora of readers' complaints and sob stories about whatever had gone wrong in their lives, whether faulty washing machines or dodgy insurance salesmen. I came up with a story about estate agents playing fast and loose with house buyers who lost out to higher bidders at the last moment. One reader described it as gazumping. That made the bulletin board! 

So many amazing names of legendary reporters and feature writers highlighted by Garth. The Express was a treasure-trove of talent in those days. Dear Frank Howitt was among the best and always generous to us youngsters, Jim Davies, the nicest and most talented of all reporters/writers, and the splendid Michael O'Flaherty who had a way with words both in the office and in the newspaper.  So, thank you, Garth, for bringing it all back.



M'lud — The Independent reports that the former Queen of Scots will 'probably' write a book about her glorious reign.

Those waiting with bated breath must be hoping that Queen Nicola preserved all the facts on paper given her notoriously patchy memory. I just hope she can remember where she has left all the details of the doubtless bombshell revelations.

A pretty slim volume if she can't!



As a long-standing reader and contributor, I should like to point out that the "Wardrobe Specials" and associated wardrobe murder cutting featured in a recent "Drone", has a full set of whiskers growing on it.

I should know...as I sent it to you exactly two years ago and it was used in the next edition!

Keep up the good (recycling) work. One must do one's bit for the planet.

Yours etc,



If a story is worth telling, it’s worth telling twice — Ed


Sir — I’ve just caught up with the letter from Terry Manners (Hi, Tel. How’s it going? Long time no see!) about the night Elvis died. I had been elevated to Back Bench wingman to Lloyd Turner who was stand-in night editor that historic day. We were well aware of the debate via telephone between Tony Fowler and Roy Wright. It didn’t matter: Lloyd turned to me and said: ‘Fuck it, we’re going to splash on it anyway.’



Sir — Followers of the The Old Grey Cardigan will be interested to note that he has contacted Lord Drone’s crusty archives’ team in the dusty bowels of Drone Towers, this time to put the record straight, over our recent flurry of excitement of how the historic story of Elvis Presley’s death hit the newsrooms, on the night of August 17, 1977 … at the most inconvenient time for journalists and compositors busy elsewhere, getting seriously pissed in the hostelries of The Street of Broken Dreams.

But as alarm bells rang, machines stopped, pages were ripped out, subs and reporters stumbled back from pubs ranging from The Punch to the Cartoonist, to change the course of newspaper history that night, from Teesside to Tennessee, not all, it seems were of the same mind about the King of Rock’s place in media history.

A fierce disagreement was apparently taking place in the Thinking Zone of the Express hierarchy, as one highly-regarded senior executive spoke against the new Splash. Our fly on the wall from the time, dear old Brown Cardy was there and reports: He told them: “We can’t turn the whole paper upside down for this one Memphis rocker, I mean, it’s not as if he is Frank Sinatra! Now that would be big!” Name of executive withheld for obvious reasons.


Quite Wright too — Ed