Named and shamed: How to endear yourself to your new boss


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Regular readers of this column (my eldest brother, essentially) might be forgiven for thinking that I am tiny bit obsessed with the writer and television presenter Giles Coren. This is the third time his name has appeared on this page to date, but what's a person to do when he keeps on providing such priceless material?

In case you are not following his career as closely as you should, Coren is now – as well as being the restaurant reviewer for The Times – a weekly columnist for the London listings magazine Time Out. In order to combine the two, a couple of weeks ago his dining companion to Marcus Wareing's new place, Tredwell's, was none other than his new boss, the editor of Time Out. As is usual, he mentioned her in his review. "My guest, Catherine McGinn," he wrote, "had the rib eye, which was strangely buttery for grass-fed meat" and so on. No problem with that, right? None at all. Except that the editor of Time Out is called Caroline McGinn.

Coren, who has previous with the sub-editors at The Times, assures me that the name was correct in the copy he filed and that the mistake must have been the result of an "inputting error". "I'm mortified," he says. "It happens all the time. But I'm not the firebrand I once was, so this time there were no more exciting emails from me. Obviously, I did apologise to Caroline and, thankfully, she saw the funny side."

So the column in Time Out is safe? "I'm not sure," he says. "I haven't seen this week's yet."

Hairy Christmas

Last summer, the word was that we had reached "peak beard". Clearly, no one told the guys who work at Grey London, the advertising agency behind that McVitie's commercial where the animals start popping out of a tin of biscuits. A few weeks ago, the Grey creatives were brainstorming the company's Christmas card and came up with the idea for beard baubles and took photos of various hairy members of the team wearing said facial decorations.

Before the card had even been sent out, the internet had caught on and the supply of Beard Baubles had sold out.

Seriously? People are actually doing this? And if they are, what exactly is the difference between a Beard Bauble and, well, a bauble? Makes me want to shave.

How to bomb in politics

One of the Republicans attempting to drum up support for a run at the US presidency in 2016 is the governor of Wisconsin, Scott Walker. To have any chance of winning, Walker will need the support (and financial backing) of all sections of his community. So Walker has been in schmooze overdrive, including addressing a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting last spring in Las Vegas.

Eager to prove his credentials, he told that gathering that he supported Israel, and that his son's name, Matthew, came from the Hebrew word for "gift from God".

Last week, all that good work came undone when a letter emerged that Walker had written a few years ago in response to a request to display a menorah (the Hanukkah candelabra) in a local courthouse. Walker had no problem with the request, but he signed off the letter with: "Thank you again and Molotov."

Bad PR awards

It's not easy working in PR. You spend all day pretending to be passionate and then you have to sell that positivity to the likes of grumpy old me. So spare a thought for the young lady who called last week to see if I might be interested in the festive goings-on at Chessington World of Adventure. "The Gruffalo is there," she enthused, "and who doesn't love the Gruffalo?" "Er, the mouse," I replied. "And the owl and the snake and the fox." Silence.

Still, at least she had a better time of it than the founders of the American PR agency who decided to call their business Strange Fruit. Mary Mickel and Ali Slutsky, from Texas, have since apologised, claiming that although they knew about the Billie Holiday song, they assumed people would realise "it [had] nothing to do with our firm, and since it was written in 1939 it wouldn't be top of mind in the public consciousness".

Last week, the pair were proved wrong when Twitter users demanded they rethink. They have now renamed their company Perennial Public Relations. Which should, at least, prove hardier.

Cave new world

The first Palaeolithic restaurant has just opened in London, and the blurb says that "Pure Taste's menu focuses on cuisine popularly referred to as the Caveman Diet". Intriguing. Except that, apparently, cavemen ate "fresh mussels in a Thai-spiced coconut broth and sticky toffee pudding and salted caramel ice cream". Wonder if that ice cream is Cro-Magnum.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

We were hoping for something worthwhile,

Well-matched foes doing battle in style,

But Farage vs Brand,

Didn't quite go as planned,

So let's get them on 'Jeremy Kyle'.