Lord Drone's Blog

Would you mind repeating that?


During a recent email exchange with a old friend and colleague who is even older than me, the discussion turned, inevitably, to deaf aids.

I explained that my hearing was slowly deteriorating to the extent that I was considering the purchase of such a device. The type of model I favoured, I explained, was a sturdy black box which hung round the neck connected to a pair of large headphones. At my age (65 next week, I'm OK for socks, thanks) one leaves nothing to chance.

My chum, replied with this little vignette:

One of my duties as a very junior reporter on the Evening News/Hampshire Telegraph, Portsmouth, was to take copy from district correspondents, one of whom, a Mr Tully, wore just such a hearing aid as you excellently describe. 

One press day I took a call from Mr Tully who wished to file “a couple of pars” from Droxford Council for the weekly. “But you’ll have to speak up,” he said, “because my deaf aid’s gone wrong.”

Me: “OK Mr Tully. Hang on a sec while I find a typewriter.”

As it happened all were in use in the reporters’ room so I had to take the call from the sports desk in another part of the building. 

I sat myself down, inserted copy-paper in the typewriter, got the headphones on, put the jack-plug in its socket, and told the switchboard girl to transfer the call – just in time to hear Mr Tully say: “That’s all for now old chap. I’ll be back with more later.”

This tale brings to mind the following gag:

Fred feared his wife wasn't hearing as well as she used to and he thought she might need a hearing aid.

Not quite sure how to approach her, he called the family doctor to discuss the problem.

The doctor told him there is a simple informal test the husband could perform to give the GP a better idea about her hearing loss.

Here's what you do," said the doctor, "stand about 40 feet away from her, and in a normal conversational speaking tone see if she hears you. If not, go to 30 feet, then 20 feet, and so on until you get a response."

That evening, the wife is in the kitchen cooking dinner, and Fred is in the sitting room. He says to himself, 

"I'm about 40 feet away, let's see what happens."

Then in a normal tone he asks, "What's for dinner, old thing?"

No response...

So the husband moves closer to the kitchen, about 30 feet from his wife and repeats, "What's for dinner, my sweet?"

Still no response.

Next he moves into the dining room where he is about 20 feet from his wife and asks, "What's for dinner, dear?"

Again no response.

So, he walks up to the kitchen door, about 10 feet away... "What's for dinner?"

Again there is no response.

So he walks right up behind her... "What's for dinner?"


And finally...

Two blokes in the pub:

‘I bought an expensive deaf aid the other day.’

‘Oh yes? What kind is it?’

‘Half-past twelve.'

Flood the bar!

There is an old Daily Express saying which seeks to bring comfort to hard-pressed subs and reporters as they toil late at night with their grinds to the nosestone. As thoughts turn to drink one reaches the reassuring conclusion that, whatever the weather: It never rains in pubs.

This is, of course, a truism that can be stated without argument but I do recall one evening in the Mad Hatter, near the Express's Blackfriars offices, when water started gushing through the ceiling, thankfully at some distance from the bar. The place doubled as a hotel and a guest had forgotten to turn the bath taps off. But no harm was done, not to us anyway, and drinks continued to be served, which was the main thing.

Needless to say there was some confusion at the thought that one of life's great truths had been confounded. Then the reality became apparent. Panic over.

All this excitement came to mind earlier this week when I and my former Express colleague and good friend Dizzy Dismore had another encounter with pubs and unwanted water. We found ourselves marooned in the White Cross in Richmond where we had been enjoying a glass or two of luncheon.

The pub is situated on the banks of the Thames which at that point is tidal. Naturally enough the tide came in, surrounding the building with water. What on earth were we to do at such a monocle-popping moment? The water was nearly ankle deep for God's sake! We decided to have another drink while tactics were discussed.

After the booze had gone down so eventually did the tidewater and we were able to make a dignified exit through the late afternoon gloaming.

Both our wives, you will not be surprised to learn, didn't believe that we had been stranded so cruelly but fortunately this blogger had the foresight to furnish them with the evidence which I reproduce here for your delectation.

And look how dry it is in the saloon. Only one thing for it: Flood the bar!

Whither the gentlemen?

I have never considered the excellent Mirror-based website gentlemen ranters.com as much of a competitor mainly because, as founder of the Can't Be Arsed Club, I have only occasionally updated the Daily Drone whereas the Ranters had a fresh edition every Friday. 

Just recently, however, as a result of jibes from my former colleagues, I have been popping something new on the redesigned Drone site almost daily. That is only correct in view of the website's title, which was originally meant to be ironic. But sometimes irony fails to have any effect. Look! I even started a blog! (Stop sniggering at the back.)

Anyway, I ask about the Gentlemen Ranters because they appear not to have returned from their Christmas 2011 vacation. To be fair, when they signed off on December 16th they explained they were taking an extended break at Palazzo Ranter, which I presume is Revel Barker's place in Malta. Where the hell are they? 

Can anyone enlighten his lordship where on earth the buggers have got to?

The Daily Drone is, on the whole, a harmonious place, given to humour, general silliness and reminiscences from the grand old days of the Daily Express. But I fear I must inject a little controversy regarding the Ranters.

Why do they presume to call themselves gentlemen? I have always considered that the title should be endowed by others, not one's self. They are probably nothing of the kind. One wonders, for instance, how many times they may have inserted footwear upon the ingress of their recalcitrant victims.

The word gentleman has always jarred with me since my days as a stone sub on the Daily Express in the 1970s. This dreaded shift involved spending the evening standing up with the compositors who liked to term themselves, with out any hint of irony, as 'gentlemen'. 

Those who have been victim of their uncouth and unhelpful behaviour will not recognise the comps thus. With few exceptions they were appalling, drunken foul-mouthed boors who very nearly brought about the end of the Express and succeeded in ending the blessed days of Fleet Street.

Gentlemen? Pah! To hell with them.

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