It's the time of year referred to in Hollywood as awards season, so when better time for the Diary to hand a special gong for bravery to the London Evening Standard's reigning features supremo Guy Eaton? Having recently dared challenge the paper's icy editrix Veronica Wadley in full view of the newsdesk, Eaton is looked upon with awe by his less-emboldened colleagues.
Reports differ as to what took place, but one thing's for certain: the disagreement amounted to more than a minor quibble over a picture caption. According to one witness, a volley of F-words took place before a sharp series of threats were exchanged. Happily, for both parties, I'm told the incident ended amicably and has since been tidily swept under the carpet.
Meanwhile, Veronica's underling, Anne McElvoy, is said to have have thrown her hat into the ring as one of several outside candidates for the editor's job at The Times, a post since taken by that paper's former business editor James Harding. If that story is true, McElvoy's ambitions will have made the subject of fascinating pillow talk with her husband Martin Ivens who, as the No 2 on The Sunday Times, was being strongly backed himself as a candidate to succeed Robert Thomson.
* SPEAKING OF outgoing editors, a familiar name jumps out from the press release for ITV's raunchy new drama Echo Beach. She is Hannah Lederer-Alton,right, 18-year-old daughter of The Observer's recently departed editor, Roger. She'll play the part of Abi Marrack alongside soap veterans Jason Donovan and Martine McCutcheon. Hannah has written for The Observer in its monthly music section but appears to have now abandoned a career in journalism in favour of acting. So just as Alton's editorial reign comes to an end, his daughter's screen career appears to be taking off. Best of luck!
* SPOTTED LAST Friday morning: the former Observer columnist Jasper Gerard in the office of Daily Telegraph editor Will Lewis. Since departing the Observer along with Alton last week, could Gerard's fogeyish column be heading to Victoria?
* WASPISH Mirror columnist Kevin Maguire has had his guns levelled squarely at Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward of late. Just before Christmas, Maguire penned a piece in his newspaper column which impertinently asked readers what the point of Woodward was.
Now, in this week's New Statesman, he says the ambitious Tory Turncoat has been getting up the nose of Brownite foot soldiers by "sticking his suede loafers in" around Downing Street where they don't belong. This coarse invective has apparently nothing to do with the Mirror's former political editor and Kev's long-term bête noire Oonagh Blackman recently joining Woodward's office as a special adviser. Absolutely nothing at all.
* ALSO FACING a hostile reception in the written press at the moment is Strictly Come Dancing contestant and one time footballer John Barnes. Barnes conducted an interview with the football mag FourFourTwo, in which he admitted he "can't be bothered" to recycle. It has prompted an angry missive in this month's edition from a reader, so vitriolic it wouldn't be out of the place on the letters page of a right-wing newspaper. "Having observed the latter years of [Barnes's] football career, as he wheezed his chubby way around the Liverpool midfield...it's easy to see how this once-great athlete has become lazy and decided to eschew the bottle banks," it reads. "I hope come Kevin Costner's watery apocalypse that Barnes's home is first to be engulfed. As his Liverpool medals and England caps are washed away by waves, this selfish man will weep salt tears and acknowledge the error of his moronic ways."
Barnesy has spent the past few months on the receiving end of this sort of poison from Strictly's judges for his cha-cha-cha, and as one of our national side's leading benchwarmers in the 1990s, he deserves better.
* THERE IS an interesting symmetry forming to the budding relationship between Sun editor Rebekah Wade and the former racehorse trainer Charlie "Looks" Brooks. The pair reportedly hooked up not long after last year's Cheltenham Festival, with Brooks nowadays said to be smitten with his flame-haired girlfriend. By neat coincidence, I now hear that one of Wade's secretaries at The Sun, Jo Bull, has begun stepping out with Brooks's former business associate and close chum Johnny "The Fish" Ferrand. A colourful character, "The Fish" joined Brooks in setting up an ale house called The Pheasant, near Hungerford, back in 2000. It has since become popular with the area's racing community. "The Fish" spends much of his time running the pub while making regular appearances in Brooks's sports pieces for the Telegraph.
*FINALLY, a last fond farewell to Hugh Massingberd, peerless obituarist at The Daily Telegraph, whose funeral was held last Wednesday. Massingberd, a renowned gourmand, was described in his own obit as being "invariably short of cash" but still wanting to live "like a grand seigneur."
This characteristic of Hugh's became apparent to his colleague Michael Kallenbach, not long after he bought Massingberd's flat in Hyde Park Square. "After we moved in, men would arrive each week with crates of lobster and exotic shellfish which Hugh would order from Portobello Road," says Kallenbach. "God knows how much it cost him, but he'd clearly been having them delivered here for years at vast expense."Reuse content