The Grey Cardigan 05.05.06

DID I tell you I'd been ill? I lost the entire weekend, drifted through Monday and Tuesday in a haze of Lemsip and whisky, and finally surfaced on Wednesday morning.

I hate being off sick. It's a rare occurrence anyway, but I can't help but feel that I'm letting down my colleagues on the Evening Beast.

Anyway, I didn't fancy the early shift, but thought that I could get in for the afternoon turn, so I'm there having a shave when there's a knock on the front door.

I stumble down, dressing gown agape, and there on the doorstep is The Brute, the Evening Beast's detested and despicable deputy editor. Chalk-stripe suit, pocket handkerchief to match his tie, highly polished brogues and the unmistakable hint of Hai Karate.

"Hello, Grey," he sneers. "Just thought I'd pop round to see how you were. You're up and about again then?"

Yeah, right. This is one of the infamous "home visits" introduced by The People Department (aka Inhuman Resources). The theory is that you'll get back to work quicker if you're harassed on a daily basis by a so-called "caring" employer.

The truth of the matter is that the recent behaviour of our profitcrazed masters has denuded any lingering loyalty to the company, while the increased stresses of longer shifts and fewer staff have increased the chances of you not feeling 100 per cent. Casual sickness is therefore endemic.

But I'm grievously offended. Everyone knows who the slackers are and everyone knows that I'm not one of them. The slackers are people like the two subs on a previous newspaper of mine who were keen anglers and, circumstantially, always used to go sick on the same day as each other. The Editor, compassionate, but also cunning, eventually spotted the trend. The next time they took a sickie and went fishing on a local reservoir, guess who rowed up alongside them in another boat?

Anyway, The Brute was still stood there on the doorstep, seemingly awaiting some kind of comment. Fuck him. I slammed the door in his face and went back to bed.

I REALISE that it's probably part of his job description, but did Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger have to look quite so smug posing in his little electric car in the pages of his own paper's G2 supplement?

The G-Wiz might be the greenest car available, and Rusbridger might be the greenest editor available, but as his new vehicle only does 30 miles before needing to be plugged into the mains, perhaps he could tell us what he uses to make the journey to his weekend cottage in the Cotswolds?

IRRITANT OF the week 1: Why do newsreaders keep using the weasel words "The BBC has learned…"? The implication is that some vital fact has been uncovered by a diligent team of investigative reporters. The truth of the matter is that nine times out of 10, the BBC has learned what it has learned by reading that day's newspapers.

IRRITANT OF the week 2: Why does The Independent insist on using that tired old device, the "Revealed: …" headline? If it's not interesting enough to be "revealed", it shouldn't be in a prominent position anyway. Even the proper tabloids (not the posh ones)

know that.

IRRITANT OF the week 3: Liz Jones announces that she has had a Brazilian bikini wax. Thank you for that information, and for the enduring image that has now lodged itself in my mind.

WHO SAYS brand loyalty doesn't exist any more? Certainly not the Daily Mirror, the first port of call for a lorry-driving reader when he decided to expose his girlfriend's affair with a prominent politician.

Excellent stuff, and nicely handled too.

You can contact me, should you be minded, at

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