The Word on the Street: Gossip on gossip; girlie Observer; confused Standard
Tuesday 18 June 2002
Adam Helliker, editor of Mandrake on The Sunday Telegraph, is on the verge of joining The Mail on Sunday to write a social column. One wonders how it will be taken by Nigel Dempster, who has a social diary in The Mail on Sunday as well as the Daily Mail. He knows Helliker, as Helliker used to be his deputy until the two fell out amid dark rumours of strong words and fisticuffs.
¿ Peter Preston, writing in The Observer, defends Alastair Campbell and Tony Blair in the row over the Queen Mother's funeral. To further his argument, he questions whether Black Rod, a former soldier, would have been "unnerved by a girl on a mobile phone". A girl? Clare Sumner, the Prime Minister's private secretary, is an experienced civil servant who achieved maturity some time ago. What would they make of such sexist language on the women's pages of The Guardian, The Observer's sister paper? Best ask The Guardian's former editor, Peter Preston.
¿ John Cleese must be feeling confused about how he is regarded, if he reads the London Evening Standard. Last Thursday he was described on page 10 thus: "When will John Cleese stop moaning? Cleese has already made an unofficial career out of criticising British television from the balmy climes of his Californian ranch." By page 33 the paper viewed him in a kindlier light, saying: "Britain's funniest man, John Cleese, 61, is about to become a father for the third time."
¿ The publicity guys at Nasa have a particular fear and loathing of the British press, which has apparently broken embargoes on a number of space stories. Nasa's latest gripe centres on the early release of an embargoed announcement of the discovery of water on Mars. The Sunday Times went as far as to state that the discovery would lead Nasa to launch a manned mission to the Red Planet – which was news to Nasa. How touching, then, for Nasa to remind journalists of the importance of respecting embargoes by directing them to a new, confidential website. Nasa's password for the site is "1badapple".
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