Axe Grinder: 27.10.2006 - Press Gazette

Axe Grinder: 27.10.2006

Lonely hack seeks soulmate for spot of tantric gardening

UNDER-SEXED media folk are flocking to a compelling new internet dating agency that caters specifically for the industry's lonely hearts.

Set up by journalists, Harriet Cross and the appropriately named Ros Love, mediadates aims to bring together single "journalists, photographers, designers, technicians, PRs, media planners, advertising and marketing bods, along with hard-pressed administrative staff".

A visit to also fills minutes of boredom for anyone who wants to have fun by guessing the identities of the forlorn hacks and hackettes.

For women, there is "Heart on Sleeve", who is aged 35 (star sign: Virgo). He overcomes his weight issue by describing himself as "a cuddly kind of guy because of this desk job. But trying to lose weight by going off to the gym and walking around three times a week".

He is not, of course, interested in looks —"it's more what you are like inside that counts. Your heart, mind and soul. I want someone who I can talk to, spend time with and share lots of special moments. I like cuddles a lot, walking hand in hand along the beach, nights out at a restaurant or movies, to nights in just snuggling up on that sofa while watching TV/DVDs or reading. At the end of the day I am just looking for someone to love me for me and someone I can give my heart to."

For men there is a lady called Crème Brulée, (38, Leo), whose friends, she says, have told her to mention the word "tantric" in her profile.

"Tantric yoga, tantric cooking, tantric gardening….people will read it as an exceptional sexual gift," writes Crème Brulée. Then she adds, in desperation: "Is there anybody out there?

Wet pants and a red face for careless Carly

SHOWBIZ PR Carly Buckhaum sent out a priceless email to hacks on local newspapers (and which has been leaked to Axe).

First, Carly — a publicist at Republic Media — confesses to a cock-up: "Today you should all receive a copy of Paul Carrack's greatest hits album and Moya Brennan's new LP. However, there has been a slight hiccup in our database and creating the mailing labels, and it appears the names and address have all been muddled up. Therefore you might get something with your address on but someone else's name."

But Carly gets horribly tongue-tied when she tries to say sorry. "All I can do at this stage is apologies for any incontinence this has called and let you know that the CDs are meant for your music reviews at your paper."

The blessing of Axegrinder?

THANKS to heaps of publicity in Axegrinder, Kelvin MacKenzie's book is doing well. Earlier this week The John Prescott Kama Sutra positioned itself at 64,772 on the Amazon rankings. This suggests that someone has actually bought a copy.

Meanwhile, the tome which focuses on dead animals and is written by Telegraph books editor Sam Leith, is doing even better. Daddy, Is Timmy in Heaven Now? (in which Leith "attempts to get to grips with a brand new pet: a cat called Henry") has shot up to an Amazon ranking of 47,026 following a plug here last week.

Brains behind subs offer lacks a Business nose

SOMEONE at The Business needs to learn how to do his sums.

The magazine (formerly a broadsheet), which has a cover price of £2.25, contains a subscriptions offer: get first five issues for £1, and then the next five issues for £1 a copy.

However, within the mag there's also a flyer offing the first 10 copies for £1 each, making it £4 more expensive than the subs offer.

But will any of this help Andrew Neil re-coup the £50m which the Barclay brothers pumped into it when it was a newspaper?

Baby poo stops Heston getting egg on his face

FORMER Michelin-starred chef Marco Pierre White has agreed to be a restaurant critic for Waitrose Food Illustrated and he got off to an exciting start with his first assignment.

White and the mag's editor, William Sitwell, went to review the Hinds Head Hotel, in Bray, Berkshire, which is coowned by White's protégé, Heston Blumenthal.

Half-way through the meal, a baby from a neighbouring table crawled across the floor, went under White's table and then enjoyed a bowel movement.

White scooped up the mess with a napkin and carried the soiled cloth to the bar.

At the end of the meal, Blumenthal button-holed his former mentor to get a flavour of what the review might contain.

"I'll do a deal with you," said White. "I can either say that a baby shat on my shoes or that the Scotch eggs were under-cooked. Take your pick."

Blumenthal didn't need time to think about it. "Say that a baby shat on your shoes," he replied.

Indy treats its freelances to premium rates

FREELANCES have been sent an unsigned letter from The Independent, informing them that "Independent News & Media Ltd has decided to centralise certain finance functions across the UK and Ireland".

From now on, it says, "the contribution function" will be located in Ireland.

Contributors are told to call a new number… an 0870 number. In other words, in order to chase up the missing payments they'll need to spend the money they are owed on the phone bill.

The letter concludes: "We are confident that these changes will maintain our current high standards of customer service…" Mmm.

Lift doubles up as Labour's new fat controller

HACKS at Westminster were turfed out of their offices over the summer and have returned, after apparently extensive construction work, to find… that barely anything has been done.

One job completed, however, has been the insertion of a new lift to the press gallery. This machine either has a life of its own or has become a paid-up tool in New Labour's drive against fatness.

Regional political reporter Caroline Wheeler entered the lift on her own the other day, only to be told by the device's mechanical voice: "Sorry.This lift is overloaded."

Starkey's Sun farewell is one big cover-up

AFTER-WORK tinctures at Axegrinder's local, the Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street, were livened up the other night by barmaids wearing skimpy bikinis and hotpants, but with veils which covered their faces.

It transpired that I'd staggered into the leaving do for The Sun's Jerome Starkey, who is off to work for the UN in the Middle East. His colleague, Alex Peake, thought it would be a wheeze to introduce a Muslim theme to the proceedings, hence the veils. Starkey's new employers would surely see the funny side of it.

Dacre's plans for exciting birthday bash…

DAILY MAIL staff will have every reason to toast their editor's 58th birthday on 14 November.

Dacre will not be in the office, but well out of shouting distance (just) because he is due to attend a conference at Wellington College, Berkshire.

Dacre will be the star turn, delivering a speech which has the catchy title (deep breath now), How Prep Schools Can Best Present Themselves To The Media.

The audience should know that the speech will not necessarily present the editor's opinions, but those of his chief speechwriters, Geoff Levy (who does the sentiment and serious stuff) and Peter McKay (usually responsible for the gags in his master's speeches).

The event has been organised by Tony Blair's biographer, Anthony Seldon, so he and Dacre will have much to talk about over lunch.

… might be out shone by Scribes revival night

MEANWHILE, Dacre's birthday coincides with the 30th anniversary of the opening of Scribes, that famous Fleet Street drinking den, which went to bar heaven some years back.

On 14 November, Scribes will be relaunched for one night only at the French House, in Dean Street, Soho.

French House proprietor and seasoned Fleet Street hack Noel Botham says that on the night he hopes to see all the old faces (emphasis on old).

"We're going to become Scribes for the evening," Botham tells Axe. "It was a great place where people were hired and fired. We used to have the Scribble Awards, a sort of Oscars ceremony for journalists, and I remember when I was editor of the National Enquirer, winning an award for foreign affairs. That's because I had brought so many affairs of famous people to the attention of foreigners."

Former Scribes front man Geoffrey Van Hay will be there to meet and greet, while Scribes barman Gavin Hans- Hamilton will be serving the drinks. It kicks off at 4pm, so make a note in your diary and stock up with Alka Seltzer.

Parris keeps quiet about country retreat

SOMETIME political sketchwriter Matthew Parris may be regarded by some as a living saint, but he has not completely shaken off the faint whiff of hypocrisy which maybe lingers round him as a former Member of Parliament.

At the start of the week, Parris sauntered onto Radio 4's Today programme to denounce a storm about Britain's "tranquil" places and to say how he scorned traditional pastoral ideals of quietude. He boasted that he liked noise and human chaos.

Can this be the same Matthew Parris who, in addition to his London home, has a hideaway in the Derbyshire Peak District where he languishes in nature's bosom, listening to the cogitating munch of his livestock and admiring the fine views? It certainly can!

Irish ladies turned on to joy of rabbits A local newspaper columnist in rural Ireland has caused a stir among her readers by writing about her new rabbit; the buzzing kind, that is, rather than the hopping. Struggling to find new subjects on her life as a mother of four in County Kildare, Angela Mangan decided she would try and push the boundaries and tackle female masturbation.

So, the 37-year-old was worried when she saw the editor of the Kildare Post had placed her column about the joy of using rabbit vibrators in its regular spot — opposite the weekly children's section, Pets' Corner.

Pollywood comes unstuck Perky Polly Graham, whose film reviews in the News of the World are considered among the most amateurish in national newspapers by her fellow critics, had come up with a beauty by adding a new word to the English language and her own somewhat limited vocabulary.

Casting around for ways to describe All the King's Men, "Pollywood" wrote in last Sunday's Screws: "It's frustatingly incohesive, overstuffed with sub-plots and tediously long."

"Frustatingly" can be put down to poor proofreading. But "incohesive"?

The word simply doesn't exist in Axegrinder's faithful Universal Dictionary.

Dead man talking — very loudly

THE TELEGRAPH'S new offices at Victoria are said to have amazing acoustics. One who has been there says that it is like being in a whispering gallery. Oh dear. What on earth will happen when the paper's deputy obituaries editor, David Twiston-Davies, gets there. "Twiston-Shout" has such a loud voice that his stentorian telephone manner is said to be enough to wake the dead. Not half useful for an obits writer.

Still not thinking?

THE HEALTH-CONSCIOUS Essex Chronicle splashed a story on how a "staggering" three out of four of the good folk of Chelmsford were pigging out on fast food, under the headline "You're Still Not Listening". Still, the Chron can hardly be doing its bit to cut the calorie intake in Chelmsford with its page-one offer of "Buy one 6-inch sub and get one free."

Axe's informant suggests maybe the splash should have read: "You're still not thinking".