Axegrinder 25.08.2006

We all band together, say Observer sport

AN INSIGHT into life on The Observer's sportsdesk comes courtesy of a leaked email to Axegrinder.

A certain Victoria has emailed the paper's staff, to say: "The giant rubber band ball from the sportsdesk has gone missing and we'd like it back. It took six years of work to create (time we should have devoted to more professional pursuits, so its loss hits that much harder)."

Victoria says the rubber band ball "was an integral part of the delicate fabric that makes up the sportsdesk and was probably more useful than the rest of us put together. If you see it, can you bring it back?"

You can't be popular with everyone, Tone

WEIRD things have happened following Tony Livesey's decision to quit as boss of the Sport and become a DJ at the BBC.

Within hours of Livesey's announcement, someone tampered with his entry on the encyclopedia website Wikipedia. Up until the news that he was leaving, his entry read:

Tony Livesey (born in Lancashire on January 11, 1964) is a British journalist and broadcaster from Burnley. He is currently editor-in-chief of the Daily Sport and Sunday Sport newspapers, in the United Kingdom. He has appeared on Have I Got News For You, What The Papers Say and Never Mind The Buzzcocks on the BBC."

However, the site allows visitors to update information, and I am sorry to say that no sooner had Livesey cleared his desk than one of his mischievous underlings added these words (which I've not tidied up)…

Well he's not the ed any more as he's just quit the sinking ship. Most staff are verrrry happy with this as there is now a great atmosphere in the office and no more chairs kicked to pieces or thrown at members of staff. Lumbling oaf that he is, he thinks he's a star and will audition for any old ‘I'm A Celbrity' type crap masquerading as TV, Ha haa, be gone with you and good riddance, you whore."

This nasty addition was on view for a matter of hours before Wikipedia's censors swooped in to delete the offensive words.

Edwards quits Indy to bash the Standard

The editorial team continues to swell at Murdoch's soon-to-be launched freebie London paper (to be called, erm, thelondonpaper) which promises to give the Standard a good old battering.

I can reveal that Dave Edwards, associate editor (sport) at The Independent, has just signed up to become sports editor of Ru's exciting new project.

It's back to the farm for poor Alice's family

Pregnant Telegraph columnist Alice Thomson was among the dozens of writers to share her holiday "nightmare" during the recent terror alert.

"Never again will I take the kids on a plane," fumed Thomson, who is expecting her fourth child.

To the certain consternation of her brood, the impeccably connected columnist insisted none of them will go abroad again until they are at least 18.

"Next year, we are going to spend the summer in Devon," says Thomson as she rounds off her lengthy rant (15 August).

But she fails to share with readers that she won't be forced to slum it in a caravan in the county of cream teas.

Thomson and her hubby, Daily Mail columnist Ed Heathcoat Amory, enjoy the benefit of a large and luxurious farmhouse in Devon as their second home.

Cheers, says the crowd — all 15 times

Viewers of BBC Midlands on Monday would have been confused when the channel showed highlights of the weekend's football matches.

There was footage of some 15 goals from different games, but each goal scored was accompanied by an identical cheer from the crowds. There can be only two explanations: the same crowd managed to transport itself via a tardis from one match to another; or a techie managed to lose the original soundtrack and was forced to rerun an archive crowd cheer.

Infuriated clean sweeps at The Sun

Rebekah Wade seems to have started a new craze — "desk sweeping" — at The Sun.

When minions told her that they had cocked up with the Prince Harry snaps, she was so enraged that she not only threw a phone, but also stretched out her right arm and swept it across her desk, pushing everything swiftly onto the floor.

Wade's desk sweep was so dramatic that since then others have been using it as a useful means of communicating anger.

I learn that shortly afterwards, Dominic Mohan and features editor Ben Jackson were in the middle of a heated dispute about "management style" when Jackson suddenly leant forward, extended his arm into sweep mode, and then brushed the surface of his desk, sending everything flying.

Do you know a desk sweeper? I'm all ears.

All top bosses get a bonus — don't they, Al?

Nice to see a cheery headline in The Guardian's financial pages on Monday.

"Bonuses become the norm for bosses", trumpeted the piece written by Fiona Walsh.

The intro informed readers: "Only four chief executives in the FTSE 100 went without a bonus last year."

Phew. What great news. And unrelated, of course, to the lucrative pay and perks package enjoyed by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

As Press Gazette documented last month, Al's annual bonus rocketed from £150,000 to £175,000 — despite ballooning losses of almost £50 million at Guardian Newspapers.

Still, as The Guardian helpfully reminds us: "Bonuses are the norm."

BBC mines the depths of useless info

Staffers at the BBC are moaning about massive job cuts at the corporation.

But how many other media organisations would maintain a special unit to help staff pronounce words such as ‘Escondida'?

The following entry on the BBC editors' blog site gives a revealing glimpse into the bizarre world that is Planet Beeb

How to say: Escondida
Host 18 Aug 06, 02:34 PM

A guide to words and names in the news, from Catherine Sangster of the BBC Pronunciation Unit.

"Today's pronunciation is for Escondida, the world's largest privately owned copper mine in Chile, where the workers are currently striking."

"We recommend the pronunciation esk-on-DEE-dhuh (dh represents the voiced th sound in the word ‘this')."

Cameron's OK now Danny has signed up

The Telegraph's main leader item on Wednesday 16 August, told its readers: "Mr Cameron's ill-judged sally gave John Prescott the opportunity to wallow in righteous (and wholly artificial)

indignation… "We trust his future musings on these complex issues will be both more thoughtful and more memorable."

Cameron's future musings will surely be more thoughtful — they are now being written by one Danny Kruger, who up until last week was… comment editor at the Telegraph.

Big money is back for reality TV nobodies

Sad news reaches me that the Sunday red-tops are finally being squeezed out of the market when it comes to their staple diet of big buy-ups from reality TV shows.

It appeared the market had bottomed when some "stars" from shows such as Big Brother and Love Island were being signed up for a paltry couple of grand.

However, a frenzy of bidding into the early hours of Sunday morning (20 August) for BB7 winner Pete Bennett topped £40,000 at one point from celeb mag Heat.

As one miserable tabloid exec revealed: "The big money is coming increasingly from mags such as Heat and Closer now.

"The media advisers to these deadbeats are telling them to ‘position themselves' for the long term, instead of picking up a quick cheque from us for a kiss-and-tell."

Gone fishin'? Certainly not gone bloggin'

Ben Brogan, political editor of the Daily Mail, hasn't quite got the hang of the latest craze at Westminster for setting up your own blog.

The best political bloggers — such as wannabe Tory MP Iain Dale and the mischievous Guido Fawkes — have updated their sites daily, even hourly, throughout the summer.

But Brogan is now finally back blogging after a month-long hiatus after last posting on 26 July. Curiously, he chose his last entry before his long break to write about MPs' lengthy 76-day holiday in a piece entitled Gone Fishin'.

Perhaps Brogan should take a leaf out of Sky News political editor Adam Boulton's book. He takes his blog so seriously that he was even updating it from his paradise island honeymoon with Tony Blair's exgatekeeper Anji Hunter.

Political journos lobby for offices

More mutterings of discontent from the cabal of lobby journalists at Westminster.

Most have been forced to leave their offices at the Commons Press Gallery for a giant open-plan office across the road at Millbank.

The move — while part of the Commons roof is repaired — has forced papers such as The Guardian, The Independent, the Daily Express and the Daily Mirror to rub shoulders, and egos, at adjacent desks.

To the envy of their rivals, political hacks at the Evening Standard and The Spectator enjoy their own private office suites — away from potential eavesdroppers.

But staff from the two titles have barely set foot in their comfortable offices, preferring to work elsewhere, according to my spies.

"It's a bit rich when everyone else is packed in together," moans one broadsheet hack. "They should hand them over to those of us in greater need."

Fat chance.

Archant won't get PiPped at the post office

Insomniacs on the East Anglian Daily Times and Evening Star have finally found a cure for their illness — a seriously pedantic email from Archant money man, Mike Rawden.

Entitled "Pricing in Proportion Reminder", Rawden tells his team (matchsticks under eyelids before reading on):

Royal Mail's Pricing in Proportion begins today. Even if you accidentally deleted the email sent last Wednesday afternoon, the amount of publicity surrounding PiP is huge and so few people will be unaware of the changes to the way postage is priced, however…

A brief look at the outgoing post today revealed a few gaps in PiP knowledge.

Therefore I don't think it's too soon to reiterate some of the basic ways to keep departmental postal costs down, and to outline what happens should you disregard the guidelines."

He goes on to tell them:


Of course, this is a ridiculous order, so he adds:

Or at least, think before you use one. Can the contents be folded in half (or by three), and put in an A5 envelope? If it can it'll save us at least 10p in postal charges per packet. PLEASE ensure you use an envelope in which your contents fit snugly. If your content (after you've folded it eight times) still requires an A4 envelope — please use an A4 envelope and not a larger one…

Doubtless, Rawden will be telling staff about Britney Gallivan who, as a junior in high school in 2002, demonstrated that a single piece of paper can be folded in half 12 times. The previous limit was believed to be only eight times.

She derived an equation that yielded the width of paper, W, needed in order to fold a piece of paper of thickness (t) any number (n) of times.

Rawden's hacks might like to know that an upper bound and a close approximation of the actual paper width needed for alternate direction folding is:

W = πt2 (3/2)(n-1)

For single direction folding (using a long strip of paper), the required strip length is:

L = ((π⋅t)/6)⋅(2n+4)(2n-1)

Just so you know.

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