Media: The Word on the Street

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The Independent Culture
AS THE Sunday Telegraph's editor Dominic Lawson strolls from the car park to his desk in Canary Wharf he should avoid picking up a copy of The Wharf, the tower's own freesheet. It has a piece by the former MI5 officer David Shayler, who made allegations of malpractice against the intelligence services. He recalls bitterly that Lawson last year labelled him a "traitor", and that in a leader The Sunday Telegraph ridiculed his beard, accused him of being "a useless idiot" and called him "pinguid". On the last point Mr Shayler belatedly strikes back, claiming that Mr Lawson is in the same boat when it comes to being pinguid. So what does this unusual word mean? In the Shorter Oxford Dictionary it is defined as "fat or unctuous".

JOHN WITHEROW, editor of The Sunday Times, has said that one of his priorities is to upgrade his paper's news coverage, not least the Insight special investigations. Perhaps he should have spelt out to the Insight team that investigations should preferably be exclusive. At the weekend Insight had the splash in the paper with the news that premium bond winners had failed to get their prizes. Alas, other papers also had the story, and managed to get it without an investigations team in sight.

THE EDINBURGH TV Festival was given an exclusive screening of Futurama, the new cartoon series from The Simpsons' creator Matt Groening on Sunday, but there may have to be some changes before it is shown to a wider audience. The show's US censors have already been po-faced about a cartoon future that depicts automated suicide booths and a one-eyed alien who is sensitive about the size of her nose. But, chances are, the change that really needs to take place in the first episode is a reference to a JFK Junior airport. A harmless gag when the episode was screened in America months ago. Not so humorous now.

PRACTICAL JOKE of the TV Festival was that perpetrated by an entertainment PR man who had been given a tube of sherbet at the Perrier Awards party. On his return to the George Hotel, where the TV industry gathers to drink itself to a standstill, he decided to chop the sugary sherbet out into lines on the back of a lavatory cistern and leave them there to see whether the industry's reputation for drug abuse was warranted. Within 10 minutes all eight sherbet lines were gone.

Leaving some television executives, presumably, with very sticky hankies.