Category: random

Leopards&spots? Expenses à la 1938

The other week Centre for Journalism shared ten must-reads for journalists, as selected by John Saunders. They were, he said, ‘unashamedly green and left-wing’: not surprising then, that Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop didn’t get a mention alongside Monbiot as inspiration for trainees. It is, however, a timely read, given recent expenses discussion…

(2009) Stephen Fry might possibly have alienated a few of his followers with his ‘venal and disgusting’ accusation when this whole Expenses marlarkey first started. Journalists, Fry claimed, have their snouts pretty buried in the troughs too. Fat chance, retorted some.

(1938) Waugh’s tale suggests it was just as bad when they all headed off to Ishamaelia… The Beast’s foreign editor, Mr Salter, is persuading young William Boot of the benefit of journalistic privileges (Book One, Chapter 2). 

… “And think what you can make on your expenses,” urged Mr Salter. “At least another twenty. I happened to see Hitchcock’s expense sheet when he was working for us in Shanghai. He charged three hundred pounds for camels alone.”

“But I don’t think I shall know what to do with a camel.”

Mr Salter saw he was not making his point clear. “Take a single example,” he said. “Supposing you want to have dinner. Well, you go to a restaurant and do yourself proud, best of everything. Bill perhaps may be two pounds. Well, you put down five pounds for entertainment on your expenses. You’ve had a slap-up dinner, you’re three pounds to the good, and everyone is satisfied.”

“But you see I don’t like restaurants and no one pays for dinner at home, anyway. The servants just bring it in.”

“Or supposing you want to send flowers to your girl. You just go to a shop, send a great spray of orchids and put them down as ‘Information’. 

“But I haven’t got a girl and there are heaps of flowers at home.”

Oh Boot… He soon learns.  

Waugh makes an appearance in a (more factual) book I’m reading now too: Daily Telegraph journalist Tim Butcher’s ‘Blood River – A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart’ (2007). Butcher is obsessively tracing H.M Stanley’s route through the Congo, and he peppers the narrative with references to all things colonial: Waugh’s experiences in 1930, used for a book called Remote People; African Queen; 1951 Travel Guide; George Simenon’s Talatala

Finally, check out the latest issue of the British Journalism Review (now in its 20th year) for Brian McNair’s piece on journalists’ favourite films (p7, in print only). I think I could be the only working journalist in the UK who has never seen All the President’s Men.

Uncategorised links

  • My friend Samuel – billed as ‘super geek Sam’ on Total Wipeout (episode 5), an obstacle course in Argentina. Contrary to all expectation (his own and those who know him) he finds himself in the final three (from 20).
  • Frost/Nixon: now need to find out how much really happened. Like the late night phone call? I was once in a lift with David Frost; I wish I’d seen this film at that point of time. I could have made some quip – of the kind I’d think really original and he’d think not at all. Like the ‘Hello, Good Evening, Welcome’ that he never actually said. Or the Nixon fornication line. Or not.
  • Last week’s MediaGuardian quiz – I didn’t do very well this week. V. TV focussed. Must try harder. 

#uksnow Moo in the snoo. Luckily he won't feel the cold like ... on TwitPic

Twitter politics – why on earth does it matter?

People use Twitter in very different ways and does it really matter? Charles Arthur discusses Twitterquette and how he’s binned many of the people he’s following. Use it for links and relevant information people, seems to be his message. Comments below don’t agree. I don’t think it really matters: use it in a way that works for you – whether that be for work or whatever so follow or don’t follow as you like. Not everyone’s using it for work purposes after all and you don’t really know these people… But I must say the idea of Qwitter sounds awful. Who has time or inclination?! Maybe useful if you were using it for PR or marketing purposes… 

Meanwhile my parents were very impressed that @stephenfry is following me… I had to break it to them that it doesn’t mean anything. He’s not coming round for tea quite yet. But if he does, I’ll know that he’d rather not have rhino ear notch with his cuppa. Meanwhile, I got very excited that one of their friends featured on this week’s Popbitch in names of the month (this link is currently the wrong issue as it’s not updated yet). How good is that? (It wasn’t me that sent it in.) Now that’s exciting.

The official beginning of the blog: with a Wispa

My mother always said I was an advertisers’ dream: I fall into every damn trap the clever people construct. Now, the Wispa. It never really went. Ok, my research here is mainly based on Wikipedia, but it seems (and I’m sure the Wispa fans would have been quick to amend the entry if it’s wrong) that it was discontinued in 2003. And re-branded (so existed partially) as the Dairy Milk Bubbly after that, before a brief period back as the Wispa in 2007. Now it really is back (if it can really be said that it ever went) more permanently this time – following immense public pressure.

So, I see a pic of the bar itself on Guardian’s Media Monkey and tweet that I’m feeling like eating one, but that maybe it’s misplaced nostalgia. Then the moment passes and I get back on with my work. And I forget about it. Then, today – a day later – I’m in the newsagents with the intention of buying something else entirely and I spy it! In its chirpy packaging telling me ‘buy me! buy me!’ So I did. And ate it this evening. But first I introduced it to the 21st century:

As I said, I’m an advertisers’ dream. By the way… did you hear that Walls have brought back the jokes on ice lolly sticks. That pleased me immensely.  Mmmm… the white Mini Milks… Feasts…