Sunday, January 10, 2010

Welcome to Telegraph-land, scraping by spending £9,000 a month

I WENT to a conference talk about 20 years ago when David Hepworth, then journalism’s next best thing as editor of Smash Hits, gave this memorable glimpse into the secret of his success: Plagiarise, plagiarise and plagiarise again!
I’m a paid-up member of there’s no better great idea than someone else’s great idea so my magpie instincts were piqued by the Telegraph Magazine’s cover story: Where does all your money go? We ask one family to account for every last penny.
Just the sort of thing to have my Joneses keeping up with each other on our papers from Folkestone to Leatherhead and all points in between.
And what a delightful read it is too, prying into the shopping bags of Christoph and Sarah Alexander as they chomp and chip 'n' pin their way through £8,971.22 in September. Yes, the best part of NINE THOUSAND POUNDS in just one month.
Come off it, even in Telegraph-land there can’t be many people who spend nearly nine grand a month just living. “I’ve been astonished how it mounts up,” admits self-employed publisher Christoph. Here’s how, mate: £299 on an in-car iPod system, £155 on woolly jumpers, £108 on a self-storage unit for your ‘various hobbies’ and £120 for your son’s tutor, which you’ve engaged after ditching private school as ‘a bit too pressured’.
Sarah – £350 on clothes and £120 on physiotherapy – marches towards 2010 without a backward glance. “We buy what we need to buy,” she says, “we’re not extravagant.”
I think we will have a crack at this. I’ll try to find some representative folks from our readership in Brentwood and Margate, and I can guarantee they’ll have their feet much more firmly on the ground than Christoph and Sarah.
And the main reason for that will be because our editors in those towns know their communities and know their readers.
Seems like the top table at the Telegraph needs to get out more.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Harriet, we're watching you

NO SURPRISE, then, that Harriet Harman got off her driving while using a mobile phone charge.
The Labour Party deputy leader was fined £350 today after pleading guilty to driving without due care and attention after she reversed into a parked car in Camberwell, south London, last July. She was on the phone throughout the ‘low speed’ incident Westminster Magistrates Court heard, but the charge was withdrawn.
Not so lucky were the motorists caught in the act by Essex Police and our Essex Chronicle reporter and photographer team. We featured them on this week’s front page along with another pile of people on a spread inside who we nabbed in the act.
Among the bizarre excuses was a woman who said she was on the phone paying another fine she had been given for the same offence.
Our photographer also spotted her car sticker celebrating the anti-establishment anthem Their Law by Prodigy. There’s not much to the lyrics from Braintree’s finest but they do contain the lines I’m the law and you can't beat the law, Fuck ’em and their law. So that’s them told.
Some people see this as low-level anti-social activity rather than anything illegal. We’ve had some stick for “holding friends, neighbours and family up to ridicule”. Tough wotsits, we say, especially when so many accidents – ‘low level’ or otherwise – are caused by this practice.
And, people of Essex, watch out. We plan to repeat the exercise. Don’t call us...