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May 11, 2007updated 13 May 2007 11:41pm

Proud Simon meets the Queen – not

By Axegrinder axeblog

Guardian columnist and former Times editor Simon Jenkins told Press Gazette last week how much he enjoyed working on the Evening Standard back in the Swinging ’60s.

Now word reaches Axe of a jape played on a young Jenkins by his colleagues from the time.

According to my source Jenkins, though “clearly destined for great achievements” was “not exactly the self-effacing type” in those days and sometimes his behaviour verged on the
“downright arrogant”.

Apparently then Londoner’s Diary editor Paul Callan, his number two Jeremy Deedes and Valerie Grove decided to “invite” Jenkins to a private luncheon party hosted by the Queen.

Through a contact, they managed to obtain some Buckingham Palace notepaper. Then they borrowed a typewriter (used by the editor’s secretary) which had a very bold typeface ‒ identical to that used on Palace machines.

They “invited” Simon, and Valerie (an excellent forger) signed it “Philip More” (then the Queen’s Private Secretary). Some sealing wax was stuck on the back and it was hand-delivered to the front hall.

To be on the safe side, they also reportedly let the editor, Charles Wintour, in on the joke (in case it backfired), who apparently also thought it was a good wheeze.

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Young Jenkins sent an acceptance to the invite (which was quickly retrieved from the mailroom by a conspirator).

And on the day of the “lunch”, he arrived in a splendid new suit and proudly told his colleagues where he was heading.

Sadly, his sense of humour apparently slipped somewhat when he was informed it was all a joke. As he told Press Gazette: “The Sixties were a great time to be working on a
London paper.”

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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