Thursday, 24 September 2020

Neither lawyers nor governments could restrain him

“No journalist of my generation could escape Harry’s influence... we were all brought up on his text books. Everything we knew about constructing an intro, subbing, cropping a picture, designing a page or writing a headline we knew it because of Harry. It was drummed into us... He was to journalism what Doctor Spock was to child-rearing... the journalist who reminds us all why we all wanted to be journalists. At a time when some people are giving journalism a bad name he is somebody who gave journalism a good name. He represents what we could be and what we should be.” - former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger.

"[He] transformed Fleet Street and [he] transformed the lives of all of us by understanding and appreciating that investigative journalism defines us. It earns our troublesome place in society and it makes clear for every journalist that what we do, for all our flaws, is invaluable." - former BBC head of news James Harding.

“He was the inventor of team journalism. In the editorial chair, he was a human dynamo and set in motion such a stream of powerful stories and campaigns that his rivals (I was one) could only struggle to keep up.” - Donald Trelford, former editor of the Observer.

"Evans was not just the champion of using journalism to set wrongs right. He was also a quintessential British editor who, for all his high-minded causes, understood that journalism was foremost not an intellectual pursuit but a craft – one that demanded muscular and clear language, captivating pictures, arresting headlines, perfect layout of the newspaper page... and, above all else, in a phrase coined by his foreign correspondent, a strong dose of 'rat-like cunning'.” - award-winning investigative journalist Stephen Grey, Reuters.

Sir Harold Evans, considered to be "the finest newspaper editor of his generation", the guiding light of every journalist and journalism student (myself included) for his comprehensive series of books on the subject of writing, editing, layout and impact of the journalistic craft, has died, aged 92. The world owes him a huge debt.

Having ruled Fleet Street for decades, he finally quit after Rupert Murdoch took over The Times and began to enforce his own personal and political influence on the editorial content of the paper. He departed for New York with his wife Tina Brown, latterly editor of Vanity Fair, and never looked back.

His remarkable journalistic campaign achievements included the pardon granted to the unfortunate Timothy Evans, hanged for the murders of his wife and child that were actually perpetrated by his neighbour the serial killer Reginald Christie, and the victory over the pharmaceutical company for proper compensation for the families of children born with deformities from the drug Thalidomide. His pioneering hard-hitting investigative journalism produced a string of world class scoops during his fourteen-year tenure at The Sunday Times, including the Bloody Sunday killings in Northern Ireland, the unmasking of Kim Philby as a KGB agent working for MI6 and publication of the Crossman Diaries.

As former editor of the FT Lionel Barber, in his obituary, says: "Neither lawyers nor governments could restrain him."

And who could ask for a better epitaph than that?

Harold Evans quotes: 

  • "The camera cannot lie, but it can be an accessory to untruth." 
  • "The democratisation of news is fine and splendid, but it's not reporting. It's based on a fragment of information picked up from television or the web, and people are sounding off about something that's not necessarily true." 
  • "Attempting to get at truth means rejecting stereotypes and cliches." 
  • "In journalism it is simpler to sound off than it is to find out. It is more elegant to pontificate than it is to sweat."
  • “Things are not what they seem on the surface. Dig deeper, dig deeper, dig deeper.”
  • “Just find out what the bloody facts are!”

RIP Sir Harold Matthew Evans (28th June 1928 – 23rd September 2020)

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more

As well as the centenary of the distinctly unlikeable Mickey Rooney, another incongruous assortment of "names" share a birthday today, including Bruce Springsteen, Julio Iglesias, John Coltrane, Romy Schneider, Cherie Blair, Walter Pidgeon, Deborah Orr, Aldo Moro, Danielle Dax, Nicholas Witchell, Emperor Augustus, Floella Benjamin, Yvette Fielding and Kublai Khan - and it would also have been the 90th birthday of the legendary Ray Charles.

Truth be told, apart from the classic Georgia On My Mind, this - his only hit here in the UK, way back in 1961 - is the only song of his with which I am really familiar...

...but it is a corker!

Takes the mind off the rain, I suppose...

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Shifting phases

The sunshine is utterly gorgeous today - better make the most of it, however. For today is the Autumnal Equinox, and from here on in, the nights start drawing in! 

The "season of decay" begins...

...but Miss Summer is still here to brighten things up a little:


Monday, 21 September 2020

She works hard for it

Another week of Zoom/MS Teams meetings beckons

Oh bugger. I was just getting used to being out in the lovely sunshine, pottering in the garden (as I have been for two days) - several pots of Spring bulbs are done, and loads more mucky pots washed ready for the next season's planting-up - and BOOM! Back to work...

Never mind, eh? On this Tacky Music Monday, there's always Miss Lola Falana and her safety gays, ready to cheer us up...

Money, indeed. That's why we do this shit.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Some say she's from Mars

Just because it is another gloriously sunny day, jolly music seems appropriate, and this song was  on the divine Ana Matronic's playlist last night...

...remarkably, in a "live" performance from the grandest gay cruising ground in the UK, Plymouth Hoe:


She came from Planet Claire
I knew she came from there
She drove a Plymouth Satellite
Faster than the speed of light

Planet Claire has pink air
All the trees are red
No one ever dies there
No one has a head


Some say she's from Mars
Or one of the seven stars
That shine after 3:30 in the morning


Love them!

Saturday, 19 September 2020

The fashion pack? She created them...

Heavens. The original "bad girl" of the couture world, fashion designer beloved of both Freddie Mercury and Princess Diana, Queen of Pinkness, Dame Zandra Rhodes is eighty years old today!

All hail.

In her honour, how about...this rather appropriate house favourite?

Many happy returns, Dame Zandra Lindsey Rhodes (born 19th September 1940)!

[More Zandra here]

Friday, 18 September 2020

No problem

A man who read a newspaper article saying the amount he drinks is a problem has confirmed that he is actually finding it to be very easy.

Tom Logan, who regularly drinks a bottle of wine or two every night, says it slips down effortlessly and makes everything seem much better.

Logan said: “Far from being a problem, it’s actually cheering me up and giving my evenings a delightfully warm and fuzzy feeling.

“It completely stops me worrying about the news and thinking about the terrifying global slip into right-wing lunacy, climate change and deadly viruses. 

“Also I drink so regularly that my hangovers have stopped being horribly unpleasant and are now just a sort of foggy cranial buffer against the harsh realities of the cold light of day.

“I think I’d have way more of a problem if I didn’t drink.”

Alcohol counsellor Donna Sheridan said: “Lockdown drinking can be a problem. But I find it all goes pretty smoothly so long as I don’t hit the vodka on a Monday.”

The Daily Mash

Of course.

A weekend is looming, dear reader - thank heavens for that! It's still nice and sunny here in tropical North London (although the wind is a bit "keen") - and we need to get ourselves in the party spirit to enjoy it.

From (gulp) forty-two years ago this week, how about a bit of "British Hustle" to start the celebrations - and Thank Disco It's Friday!

Have a great weekend, folks!