Doc Coleman has one last People dig
Flamboyant People columnist Dr Vernon Coleman, who resigned because the newspaper refused to print his piece criticising of the war in Iraq, cannot resist a final bite at the hand that fed him for 11 years.
Coleman, who condemns the ban as “an infringement of freedom of speech”, believes that after his column finishes on 29 June the ailing Sunday’s circulation will fall below the dreaded one million mark within three months – and he’s tried to put his money where his mouth is.
“I consulted Ladbrokes’ special betting unit but unfortunately they would not take the wager at any odds,” he reports.
Controversial Coleman is confident because he believes his personal following will be outraged at his departure. “Over 200,000 people have written to me over the years, half a million have rung my phone lines and 65,000 are readers of my books. Consequently, I think I know what the readers want.
“My urge to bet was inspired by the fact that I regularly receive bucketfuls of mail from readers saying ‘I only buy the paper for your column’. I hope this does not count as insider information.” The People’s April circulation dropped 15 per cent to 1.1 million.
Persuading reluctant subjects to strike embarrassing poses is all part of the regional newspaper photographer’s armoury. But even so, Dog’s hat is respectfully doffed in the direction of the Staines & Egham News full-time freelance Sally Higdon, sent to cover the tale of a local man who had bought a can of dogmeat that exploded when he opened it. Not content with a simple shot of him dolefully holding up another can, Higdon returned with this full re-enactment.
Dog can only imagine the conversation: “That’s right sir, if you could just smear the dogfood over your head and your clothes, that’d be lovelyâ€¦ and then could we get the dog to lick it off? Beautiful.”
A failure of pronunciation
Top magazine executives were asked to share the secrets of their success and lay bare their worst failures at this year’s PPA conference.
James Brown, the founder of Loaded, who this month sold his publishing company I Feel Good to Felix Dennis, said he spent most of the year when he was supposed to be developing ideas for the magazine writing features for Arena and Smash Hits and playing indoor golf.
“I think that was part of its success, because it was read by men who didn’t like working,” he explained.
The world of partwork publishing was credited with the best failure story – Eden Phillips of Edenco recounted how a series called Our Century his company launched in 1998 failed to capture the imagination of history buffs.
“It doesn’t really work in bite size terms and the CD-Rom we offered with it was becoming old technology then,” said Phillips.
“But the worst aspect was the radio commercial we put together – it was difficult to get the radio man to pronounce it so it didn’t sound like Arse Entry.”
Other Mather in a lather
Another Ian Mather has had a curious week after Press Gazette reported the death of sub-editor Ian Mather.
His family have been receiving sympathy calls and requests for details for obituaries. It is by no means the first time that reporter Mather has found himself mistaken for his namesake.
As he has worked around Fleet Street, first as a Press Association trainee in 1960, then for 20 years on The Observer, before going to The European and now as freelance diplomatic correspondent for Scotland on Sunday in London, he has often been the recipient of mail meant for the “other” Ian Mather.
“He used to get quite a lot of Inland Revenue letters which found their way to me and we used to meet in a Fleet Street pub where I handed them over,” he said.
“It’s not a very common name and when he became editor of the police magazine The Job, I was rung by the Today programme for an interview. But I never got any of his pay cheques!”
Bushell returns for spell in Sun
Big-mouth journalist Garry Bushell made the front page of Torquay’s Herald Express when he took his family on holiday to Torbay. Unfortunately, as the kennel’s spotter in The Sun gleefully points out, “not only can they not spell his first name, but they think he still works for us!”
Bushell left the News International title in a huff when it wouldn’t serialise his book two years ago.
Pop-up Saints boss
Ian Murray has a new toy from which he is loathe to be parted. The editor of the Southern Daily Echo has been the recipient of a gift that has crowned his jubilation and that of his team at the Southampton paper at the success of the Saints in getting to the Cup Final.
Graphic designer Jayne Stamp took a wooden spoon and converted it into a pop-up Gordon Strachan – even down to the ginger hair and tam o’shanter. “Since she left it on his desk, he has hardly put it down,” said one insider. “He is wandering around with it.”
Stamp also devised a cake in the design of the Saints’ football shirt. Murray has no chance of hanging on to that. “The subs ate it in 20 minutes this afternoon,” Dog was informed.
Clever use of technology by Maxine Frith, departing health correspondent of the Evening Standard, who set her auto reply e-mail at the Standard to include contact details of her new job at The Independent, so she wouldn’t miss any stories coming in to her old e-mail. But mystifyingly the bottom of the message reads: “I will be out of the office starting 22/04/03 and will not return until 12/02/04.” Dog wonders what’s happening at The Indy next February to make her think she’ll be back at the Standard by then.
Anyone who’s been left high and dry by discount airlines will have been delighted to see this good story from the Western Daily Press about a disgruntled Easyjet passenger who set up the Easyjet-sucks web site.
And Dog is sure that the “web’s favourite airline” will have been equally delighted with the placement of its ad.