SUNDAY 19  MAY 2024


Grosvenor celebrates his 90th at Garrick 


The Garrick Club isn’t normally the place to reveal  publicly one’s income tax triumphs but Peter Grosvenor, the distinguished

former literary editor of the Daily Express, simply couldn’t resist it yesterday.

The occasion was a champagne gathering of family and friends in the Sinden Room celebrating his 90th birthday.

To general delight  in these grim financial times, he related how he and fellow literary editors of other papers augmented their modest incomes by selling  into the trade for half price the many books they were always receiving for review.

Eventually the inland revenue stepped in — demanding tax on this additional income.

The result was a Fleet Street triumph —  the authorities  accepted that no tax was payable as books were their ‘the tools of the trade.’

The jolly  gathering also heard how, when he left Oxford, Peter horrified his mother by getting a job on Reveille, publishers of tit-and-bum pictures long before Rupert Murdoch introduced them in The Sun. But eventually he was able to move on to the relative respectability of the Daily Express where editor Bob Edwards told him he was making him literary editor on the assumption ‘you can read.’

In the Sinden Room  Peter was also able to demonstrate that to this day he is still able to do a fine, growling imitation of The Beaver, the great Lord Beaverbrook.

Peter retired in 1996, since when he has spent most of his time playing bridge and golf. 

‘I’ve been enjoying life,’ he said. Wise man.

Bubbles gave
me bubbles

Reward for restoring  torn pics

By HARVEY MANN, former Picture Editor, Daily Mail

In the 30 years I worked for Sir David English we became quite close, and often I would end up n his office drinking tea or coffee with him, often he and his lovely wife would go to the ballet or a first night premiere along with my wife sharing a taxi. 

One day he called me into his office and asked me to talk to Pat ‘Bubbles’ Harmsworth, Lord Rothermere’s wife, who was very distraught and in tears.  I was asked to go to her home in Eaton Square to give her advice and  help. When I got there Pat, pictured, had a huge amount of photos  that had been torn up. She told me that someone in the house had taken all the photographs out of the frames and ripped them. The damaged pictures showed Vere and Pat with loads of big named celebrities and many Presidents and world leaders. 

I told her that it would take at least a week but I could have them restored, I took them back to the office and got an artist and a member of the darkroom to work on the 30 or so photographs each one was pieced together like a jigsaw, retouched photocopied and I delivered pictures back to Eaton Square. 

Two days later a large box was delivered to the office. It contained  12 bottles of Bollinger. Needless to say Pat and her husband Vere were very grateful.


What’s former Expressman Norman Giller doing with the late, great Muhammad Ali?

Giller, who was chief football and boxing reporter of the Daily Express has written a book about the legendary world heavyweight champion. That is no surprise because he is the author of no less than 120 books.

Robin McGibbon has read The Man who Put a Curse on Muhammad Ali which contains some hilarious detail.


Bozza’s Lady

This is Charlotte Owen. Lovely isn’t she? So lovely, in fact that she will become the youngest ever life peer at the age of 29.

And who nominated Charlotte for this signal honour? Why none other than Boris Johnson, for whom she worked as a special adviser.

Further comment would lead us to dangerous ground so we won’t go there. The Drone, after all, never seeks to make mischief. (Eh? — Ed)

But you, dear reader, can think what you want.

Dacre: A pane in the glass


IT’S no secret that Paul Dacre had a fearsome temper. I worked alongside him for many years when he was news editor and in the New York office when he was the Mail’s bureau chief.

Whenever it became close for Dacre to write his daily column, mostly lifted from the US press or from the wires, he would become extremely agitated, he would slam the door of his glass office as hard as he could.

The glaziers would have to be called in on a regular basis to check the glass panels in the door and the windows to his office. The moral to this story is, lunatics who work in glass houses, should be stoned.



Hands up all those who remember the Queen’s Coronation in 1953.

Quite a few of our readers no doubt.

But how many actually attended the big event in London?

We’ve found one, Expressman ROBIN McGIBBON, pictured, who tells his story here

Eliades hits 90

Express news and foreign desk legend David Eliades has celebrated his 90th birthday. He is pictured with his niece Tina in Bellinzona, near his home in Switzerland.

How the Express inspired Connery

This drawing of James Bond, is taken from a cartoon serialisation printed in the Daily Express before the films were made. The story goes that Sean Connery, a former Edinburgh milkman turned jobbing actor, was reading the Express in his dressing room when one of his fellow performers pointed out his resemblance to John McLusky's sketch — and convinced him to audition for the role in Dr No. Just fancy that!

Why Joan Collins invited me into her hotel boudoir

It was an invitation Daily Star reporter GEORGE DEARSLEY could hardly refuse — all in the course of his professional duties of course. There the dream ended, but he did manage to get the actress to stand on one leg for the inevitable pics.  

John Stead ascends to the Great Pub in the Sky

Former Express, Star and Sun man John Stead has died at the age of 77.

Stead is pictured second right doing what he loved best — drinking in the pub with pals.

Malcom Tattersall, far right, has written a brilliant tribute to his old friend who was known for his love of beer and fags. 


Hot sessions with King Arthur

Just a flong at twilight

Fleet Street jargon explained 

Fleet Street was always full of jargon. There were dog’s dicks, fudges, reverse ferrets, widows and orphans, to say nothing of Pica, LP, Brev and Min. But what did they all mean? William Turvill has researched the matter and made a list. We don’t recognise all of the jargon but it’s a fair cross section.


You're crazy: Former Express sub Tony Boullemier
with singer Arthur Brown (Tony’s the one on the left)


George Dearsley's tale of having been stiffed over a story about The Crazy World of Arthur Brown by the dreaded Max Clifford, certainly caught my attention.

Because dear old Arthur used to be a guest vocalist with my pop group. It was at Reading University where I managed an R&B group called The Soul Proprietors. 

We were all first years and when the Souls appeared at the Rag Cavern and other uni events, they were often joined onstage by a third year guy whose voice had an incredible range. It was of course Arthur Brown.

A little later he made his name by setting himself on fire at Richmond Jazz Festival and reaching No. 1 with 'Fire'.

As for his career, he's now 80 and he's still performing.

A few years back I caught up with him at a gig in Market Harborough. It was good to talk. I can confirm that he's still crazy. And he still has a fantastic voice.

How a night with Yoko nearly bankrupted me

It’s not every day you get a chance to be the first journalist to interview Yoko Ono following the shooting of John Lennon.

Hickey diarist CHRISTOPHER WILSON got the dream break but when he asked Daily Express editor Arthur Firth to finance the trip to New York he was met with a refusal. ‘Old story,’ he said. ‘Don't bother.’

Not to be outdone, Wilson decided to take a few day’s leave and pay for the flight to America himself.

It nearly bankrupted him but he got the story … just.



STEVE MILL has his own story about Yoko and The Beatles back in the day


Not everyone can claim to have spent an evening having dinner with actress Gina Lollobrigida but ROBIN McGIBBON can.

The former Expressman’s trip to Rome was meant to be a day trip but one thing led to another …. and he didn’t make it home.


Another fine mess, Stanley 

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Former Daily Express northern news editor Stanley Blenkinsop, who died aged 78 in 2010, decreed that he would like his ashes scattered outside the paper’s offices in Ancoats, Manchester.

Colleagues duly left the reunion eager to fulfil the colourful and slightly eccentric journalist's wishes. Stanley's ashes were divided into several packets. But at the moment of ejection things didn’t exactly to plan.


My night with La Lollo

How Felicity Green was slaughtered by Lamb

ANOTHER memory from the good old days, this one from Expressman Alan Hill.

He told the Drone: Pat Lay, my great boss when he was City Editor witnessed this: 

Felicity Green appears in editor Larry Lamb’s office doorway.

Larry: Yes?

Felicity: I have come to discuss my position.

Larry: What position?

Felicity: My position on the paper.

Larry: What position?

Felicity Green, still with us at 96, was not everyone’s glass of Chardonnay, recalls SPIKE DIVER. In the days of Christopher Ward’s editorship, which preceded Larry’s, she reportedly referred to the staff as Them and Us. ’Them’, of course, were the people who actually got the paper out, and ‘Us’ was Felicity and her small entourage.

Not for nothing was she called Ferocity Spleen.