The Grey Cardigan 21.04.06

KELVIN USED to call it a "reverse ferret" — a complete U-turn on a previously sacrosanct policy. Here at the Evening Beast we call it a "flip flop", and older readers will now understand why the new nickname of the Boy Wonder, our adolescent editor, is Fosbury. Dick Fosbury.

First we had the ban on "old people", rescinded when someone pointed out that they were our few remaining readers. Then we had the ban on "bad news", until someone realised that punters tell lies in focus group meetings and actually do like reading about murders and rapes after all. Now we’ve binned the double-page spread of secondhand TV and celebrity gossip, carefully assembled at huge cost by a lazy freelance trawling through two-week-old copies of Heat magazine.

Apparently, people quite like reading about local news — a stunning revelation handed down from the editor’s office with all the authority of a stone tablet on Mount Sinai.

We’re not alone in this switchback lunacy. Passing through Manchester last week, I noticed that the Evening News has seen the light and returned its sport coverage to the back pages after a fiveyear interregnum. And why was it moved in the first place? Who sat down in a meeting, in one of the country’s premier sporting cities, and suggested that the key readership driver for young males should be dragged screaming from its traditional home and be stuck in the middle of the newspaper like a piss-poor puzzle section?

The culprit has never been identified. But I bet the twat wears red socks.

CURIOUS DOINGS at the Daily Mail, where a new "surprise" columnist arrived on Saturday. Welcome to "the scabrous Clement Crabbe, of The Rockpools Register, who takes a wry, whimsical look at a world increasingly beyond parody".

Now as one who is in the trade, I don’t usually like slagging off new columnists before they’ve had a chance to settle down. But I have to say that this sub-Beachcomber drivel was probably the worst stab at the black arts I’ve seen since Blunkett’s dog got that £60,000 News of the World gig.

What on earth are they thinking of? And how many Mail readers will even know what "scabrous" means? Although after reading it, I’m sure the word "shite" will spring to mind.

So there’s that hideously intrusive puzzle pull-out ("Printed with special ink that doesn’t come off on your hands!"), the £8m chucked at You magazine, the horror that is Liz Jones and now an unreadable column. Is someone at Derry Street losing their touch?

CAN IT possibly be true that one regional newspaper decided to spend £50 (a trainee’s daily wage) on a cake to celebrate the first wedding anniversary of Charles and Camilla, only for it to arrive with the crucial number one missing?

Can it also be true that said newspaper then had the cake delivered to Highgrove, even though the happy couple were very publicly in Scotland? And can it further be true that the luckless pair of nonjournos entrusted with delivering the cake then managed to get themselves detained by the cops? Surely not. It’s only the nationals who go in for silly stunts like that, isn’t it?

FURTHER TO my comments about the useless NUJ last week, one snitch remarks that even if it can’t protect its members, it should at least be guardian of the English language. Not so.

Contained within its latest email to members, concerning the forthcoming election of a general secretary, is the following apostrophic abortion: "To be shortlisted to stand in the election, applicant’s must be a member of the union with five years continuous membership…"

Let’s just hope it spells those letters to Colonel Gaddafi correctly.

MY BEEF about The Sun’s use of inappropriate pop song puns in headings prompts another old fart to remind me that the death of one of the Righteous Brothers was similarly marked with "You’ve lost that living feeling". Sad to say, I actually laughed at that one.

You can contact me, should you be minded, at thegreycardigan@gmail.com

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