Axe Grinder: 24 November 2006

Non-tantric Sam seeks two partners

FOLLOWING my recent mention about Media Dates, the internet dating agency for journalists, I learn that Sam Parkhouse — a regular contributor to The Observer and The Times — is using the web to find a lover. The lonely heart is advertising himself on Ecademy ("the site that connects business people") alongside a snap of himself in a b.o.-stained T-shirt standing by a bicycle. Parkhouse — a gossip column tipster — is utterly modest in his description of himself: "Talented, creative, fun, strong…" He adds that he is also an "excellent friend, sporty, fit, witty, sharp, intelligent." There's more. He is, he claims, "sensitive, determined, open-minded, imaginative, loyal". The exhaustive pitch continues: "Grasps ideas/ info quickly" (which he then no doubt flogs to diaries) and he is "warm-hearted, spirited, competitive, athletic,energetic, arts lover, single".

He says he is "looking for a partner in two areas". The first is a business partner: "Through my contacts in national newspaper journalism I have been given the chance to represent some good people in the arts/entertainment/business worlds and I seek a like-minded media savvy partner to set up a media relations business. I enjoy being creative and have a very good news sense and insightful nature. I am very committed and loyal when something or someone fires my imagination. I am ambitious for myself, but also really get a buzz out of being in a winning team."

Secondly, "I am looking for a female to share my personal life and passions with (not necessarily the same person as above!)." The word tantric, which is considered to be crucial in such ads, is not mentioned.

The Londoner winds up too sensitive Dankie

SPECTATOR editor Matthew D'Ancona seems to be developing an unhealthily thin skin.

Axe hears that he has decided to have nothing more to do with the Evening Standard, because he is displeased with the impertinent tone of the paper's Londoner's Diary column, which suggested he is a little too close to environment secretary David Miliband (who just happens to employ Mrs D'Ancona as a special adviser). "Matthew has been telling colleagues that he refuses to give The Londoner any more tips on what is coming up in the following week's Spec," says one Doughty Street disloyalist. "He is jolly, jolly cross."

You bitch! Will horrible Hari be asked back?

YOUNG Johann Hari, a columnist on The Independent, maybe needs to learn that bitchiness is not the surest way to get ahead.

Recently, the not exactly photogenic Hari was invited to present BBC2's What The Papers Say, which is made by Granada. Come the big day, Hari duly turned up at Granada's studios in Manchester and proceeded, within minutes of meeting the programme's production staff, to slag off numerous Fleet Street figures. Really gave them a pasting he did. The language was astonishing, the verdicts lacerating. Bitch, bitch, bitch.

Axegrinder hears that the scribe may even have had sharp words for some people to whom Hari might be expected to be more grateful. Ouch! Independent editor Simon Kelner surely deserves a better team player.

Had self-assured little puffball Hari paused to think for but a minute, however, he might have realised that What The Papers Say is presented by a different Fleet Street hack every week, and that some of them, from all parts of the political spectrum, become good friends of the programme. These include several of the very journalists about whom Hari was so scathingly unpleasant.

"He managed to be foul about several people some of the production staff like and admire," Axegrinder is told. "It was a remarkably disagreeable performance."

If you're expecting to be asked back to present the show, Johann, don't hold your bladder.

Too much exposure for Jack's review

FURTHER to my recent item about Overexposure, the novel penned by Times diarist Hugo Rifkind, certain changes have been made to the book's entry on Amazon.

You'll recall that the entry included a review by one J Malvern, who described Overxposure as a "highly enjoyable whodunnit that will appeal to fans of Iain Banks and anyone seeking an insight into the hollow circus that is the London gossip scene".

I wondered whether J Malvern was in fact Jack Malvern, arts reporter on The Times, and therefore a colleague of Rifkind. Whatever the case, since the overexposure of Malvern's critique in this column, his review has now vanished from the entry. Could this explain why Rifkind's paperback has slipped back to 135,030 on the Amazon rankings (52 used and new available from £1.29)?

New Mount for Daily Mail's leader team

ANOTHER week, another well-schooled Telegraph man is hired by the Daily Mail. Harry Mount — a cousin of Tory leader David Cameron — has signed up to be a leader writer. The Mail's leader writing team already comprises Michael Toner, as well as Mount's former Tele colleague, good old Tom Utley. Latin-loving Mount has recently had his first book published. Entitled Amo, Amas, Amat and All That, it is described thus: "Have you ever found yourself irritated when a sine qua non or a mea culpa is thrown into the conversation by a particularly annoying person?" Just the man to preach to the Mail's Middle England readers.

MacKenzie goes further up the Amazon

STICKING with Fleet Street's would-be authors, Kelvin MacKenzie's spoofy tome, The John Prescott Kama Sutra, is charging up the book charts. It has now reached the position of 40,949 in the rankings of Amazon. He should know that Amazon is, interestingly enough, not only the name of a book-selling website, but also a sexual position in the Kama Sutra. (Amazon: The man relaxes and lies down with the legs slightly opened and flexible towards his chest. The woman squats…)

What of Sam Leith, books editor of The Telegraph, and his tome, Daddy, Is Timmy in Heaven Now?, which was previously published under the uplifting title, Dead Pets?

This week it slid higher towards Amazon heaven, when it reached 105,102, sandwiching him between Overexposure and the Kama Sutra.

What's the Wright answer to the questions?

THERE was a recent hymn of praise for Mail on Sunday editor Peter Wright in The Guardian for his enlightened attitude towards homosexuality (Jonathan Oliver collected reporter of the year from gay rights organisation Stonewall for his scoop about a cardinal who sacked his assistant for being gay). And The Guardian's praise was well deserved, too.

Meantime, some small, harmless, but niggling questions remain unanswered about Wright's team… 1) Who wrote the MoS headline Nowt Queer As Folk when outing Archers producer Vanessa Whitburn?

2) Which MoS executive insisted photographers should lurk in the bushes to snap Sky's Dawn Airey with her partner?

3) Which MoS exec took charge of outing Clare Balding as a lesbian? (Balding retaliated by ending her contract with sister paper, the Evening Standard.)

4) Which MoS exec nicknamed the reporters who worked on these stories The Dyke Busters (and when an outing-type story was suggested, would shout, "Call for The Dyke Busters!" before humming the theme to The Dam Busters)?

5) Which MoS exec delighted in juvenile jokes about "female pipe smokers, women who wear sensible shoes and women who dance at both ends of the ballroom"?

What's in a name? Ask Jono — and Derek

HOWLS of laughter coming from BBC London, where Jono Coleman is telling (off air) a gag about three wise men who arrived at the stable to visit the child lying in the manger. One of the wise men was exceptionally tall and smacked his head on the low doorway as he entered the stable.

"Jesus Christ!" he exclaimed. "Write that down, Mary," said Joseph. "It's better than Derek."

Daubs makes a misjudgement

I DOUBT it's the first time that Loaded editor Martin Daubney has made a spectacle of himself at an awards ceremony (it may even be in his contract), but he certainly managed to create a stir at the genteel PTC's young journalist of the year awards last Friday lunchtime.

As one of the judges, Daubs was clearly confident that his view of who should win the monthly consumer category would prevail. So just before the golden envelope was opened, he was on his feet pointing at, and loudly applauding, Monisha Rajesh of Little White Lies Magazine. Unfortunately for both of them, Monisha's name was not the one on the card. Let's hope he offered her some work on Loaded to make up for the embarrassment.

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