John Walsh's Media Diary

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The Independent Online

The Sunday Telegraph editor, Dominic Lawson, has been hauled over the coals by the Army for running a Trog cartoon showing coffins being loaded on to an aircraft above the caption, "Home by Christmas' - Tony Blair". Lieutenant-Colonel Ed Brown expressed his "disgust" and opined that it would give "enormous offence to all professional soldiers everywhere". It's a blow to think the whole British army is ranged against you - but it might explain the weirdly paranoid articles being published in Mr Lawson's organ. Staff are scratching their heads over last week's feature about self-defence, and how the ordinary bourgeois chap, on discovering an intruder in his home, can be transformed into a commando-style killer. The article explains how a wooden spoon can become a lethal weapon, how house keys can double as a chav knuckle-duster, and how to behave in your living-room: "If the intruder continues to approach, throw your arms around his neck, pull him to you and do what you can with your teeth. Bite hi

The Sunday Telegraph editor, Dominic Lawson, has been hauled over the coals by the Army for running a Trog cartoon showing coffins being loaded on to an aircraft above the caption, "Home by Christmas' - Tony Blair". Lieutenant-Colonel Ed Brown expressed his "disgust" and opined that it would give "enormous offence to all professional soldiers everywhere". It's a blow to think the whole British army is ranged against you - but it might explain the weirdly paranoid articles being published in Mr Lawson's organ. Staff are scratching their heads over last week's feature about self-defence, and how the ordinary bourgeois chap, on discovering an intruder in his home, can be transformed into a commando-style killer. The article explains how a wooden spoon can become a lethal weapon, how house keys can double as a chav knuckle-duster, and how to behave in your living-room: "If the intruder continues to approach, throw your arms around his neck, pull him to you and do what you can with your teeth. Bite his ear off". Dominic, for pity's sake, calm down. Buy a dog.

* What a shame Jason Robinson's sporting column didn't appear in the Daily Mail last Monday. England's first black rugby captain's column has appeared sporadically in the Mail for more than a year, and it would have been interesting to read this thoughts on his team's crushing defeat of Canada the previous Saturday. But Robinson spent last week steaming with silent rage and refusing to speak to the press after discovering that four tabloid papers had been sniffing around his bad-boy past, digging up sore old tales of drinking, family violence and illegitimate children. When the mother of his first child was harassed by the red-tops, she passed on their names to Robinson. How surprised he must have been to discover one of them was, er, the Daily Mail.

* Is Channel 4 about to buy Oneword Radio and build up a radio network to rival the BBC? Is Channel 4 planning a merger with Channel Five? Should Channel 4 cling to its status as a public service broadcaster, or go for all-out privatisation? Funny how you can't imagine C4's new chairman, Luke Johnson, concerning himself with these enervating matters. In next month's Condé Nast Traveller, the bible of the globe-trotting bon viveur, Mr Johnson is discovered far from the cares of televisual office: "It's 5.30pm on a Saturday afternoon, and I find myself dancing on top of a bar at a beach club called La Voile Bleu. All the beautiful people from Beirut gather here at weekends... In downtown Beirut, one can spend the day at a café drinking strong coffee... or sipping arak, the local spirit made from grapes and aniseed". His irascible pop, Paul Johnson, would surely have something to say about such indolence.

* Oh my God, she's back. Just when you thought that sex on television was becoming gratifyingly frank, a counter-blast is launched by mediawatch-uk. It has announced a short-film contest, "for excellence in film and programme production at UK universities and colleges", specifying that submissions "should not include harmful or offensive material" and should show "respect for human dignity". So far, so good. The name of the £1,000 prize, though, might put off a few thrusting young film-makers: it's the Mary Whitehouse Award 2005.

* The media event of the year took place last Friday at a 12th-century church in Bury St Edmunds, with 1,060 people packed inside its stone walls, and 2,000 more crammed outside. It was, of course, John Peel's funeral. The music playlist summed up the bewildering eclecticism of Peel's enthusiasms: there was the Ave Verum sung by the Stowmarket Choral Society, followed by Howlin' Wolf's "Going Down Slow", Rachmaninov's second piano concerto, Cesar Franck's Panis Angelicus and, er, Roy Orbison's "Running Scared". In his evocative pen-picture of the obsequies for the next Word magazine, Mark Ellen describes what it's like singing hymns surrounded by dozens of legendary rockers: "Billy Bragg and Robert Plant on my left, Jack and Meg White in front of me, on the right Jarvis Cocker and two of The Undertones. We were singing "Abide With Me". I was waiting for Robert Plant [the legendary Led Zeppelin screecher] to sing "Change and decay in all around I seeeeeee", but it never happened".

* Most Confusing Magazine Pitch of the autumn is the fanfare for a new magazine called OHELL, which was launched on Thursday. The backers explain its raison d'être as follows: "O is about embracing the positive things in life. It is optimistic, inspirational, inclusive and full of hope. HELL is equally important and omnipresent. It is about artifice, divisiveness and lack of motivation." In other words, Pollyanna meets Samuel Beckett. Don't all rush.

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