The word on the street: The Observer in fiction, female Fleet-Streeters, Tim Lott on Birmingham

Sunday 26 January 2014 05:55

Who has been inspiring Gaveston, the debut novel from The Observer's deputy literary editor, Stephanie Merritt? Roger Alton, her editor, may want to know, given that her fictional creations include a Sunday broadsheet – The Enquirer – whose offices are based, like The Obs's, in Clerkenwell, . "Are we the only Sunday broadsheet, do you think, whose investigative team investigates by looking up yesterday's papers on the net?" asks one member of the fictional staff. "I didn't think we could afford an investigative team," adds another.

¿ And who is trying to spread discord among Fleet Street's female correspondents? Private Eye has mischievously suggested that The Sunday Times's Marie Colvin was furious that The Sunday Telegraph's Christina Lamb might join her paper. Was that the same furious Colvin who joined John Witherow, The Sunday Times's editor, in congratulating her rival on success at the UK Press Gazette awards and smiled encouragement when Witherow suggested Lamb should join his team?

¿ The lads at FHM didn't exactly get what they bargained for when voting for the 100 sexiest women in the world, to be published this week. One reader's top 10 started with his mum, ended with Camilla Parker Bowles and included Marge Simpson, Mo Mowlam and Cilla Black.

¿ Meanwhile, the porn king David Sullivan has been following the Richard Desmond saga with interest. Sullivan was, of course, refused the go-ahead to buy a group of Bristol newspapers, on account of his salacious interests. But he thinks that the example of Desmond, publisher of Asian Babes, means he may be able to bid for newspapers again. Which presumably was not what Labour intended.

¿ The standing of the novelist Tim Lott in Birmingham is set to rival Anne Robinson's in Wales. Discussing the distinctive accent of the rock star Ozzy Osbourne, he told Newsnight Review: "You can't hear Brummie without laughing. That's why there aren't any Brummie newsreaders."

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