Back at work after a week off sick when, coincidentally, the News of the Screws went to the wall, and I am fed up to the back teeth with all the maudlin crap from colleagues about 'how sad it is that the Screws is closing'. If I come across one more boasting of how they have bought three copies of the final edition 'because it's historical', I'll kill someone. The only sad thing about the whole affair is that around 200 people have lost their jobs, the huge majority of whom will be completely innocent of the skulduggery that went on at the Screws. Furthermore, the paper being superbly produced - and I am not talking of its worth as a newspaper but the professionalism of the hacks who brought it out every week - the vast majority of those 200 will be working in equally well-paid jobs within two weeks. They will be snapped up because of their kind they are the best of the best. By the way, last week not 200 but 1,400 will be lost at a firm called Bombardier which makes trains because the Government has handed a vital contract to a German firm - no hacks crying tears over them, you'll notice, and few if any of them will have been on the rather splendid salary the Screws will have been paying its staff.
As for the paper: good riddance. Don't believe a word of the self-serving crap about what important stories it 'cracked'. Off-hand I can't remember one. The Screws specialised in digging for dirt about those in the public eye - for example, Max Moseley who runs Formula One and who liked nothing better than being whipped by tarts dressed as Nazis - and then publishing it for the titillation of folk whose lives are otherwise dull, dull, dull. Someone this morning suggested that printing the story of one David Mellor, a Tory Cabinet minister who was playing away and who liked to shag his squeeze dressed in a Chelsea football strip was the kind of worthwhile story the Screws printed. Why? Because Mellor was a Cabinet minister. Give me a break. And 'the Great British Public' should also shoulder some of the blame: if it were not so bloody prurient and ready to soak up the latest salacious details of some D-list turd's sex life, the Screws and its rivals wouldn't bother publishing it.
There's a well-known saying - well, well-known to me, anyway - that 'news is what doesn't appear in the newspapers', so given that, with one or two honourable exceptions, our national newspapers choose to print nothing but celebrity tittle-tattle, diets, 'lifestyle features', property columns and pieces on where best to save your money, the next time someone brags about Her Majesty's Press, do me a favour and tell them to fuck off.
The one thing that does concern me is that after the MPs' expenses scandal of last year, those same MPs, many of who got away scot-free with more or less dipping their fingers in the till, will be queuing up to table motions about 'regulating the Press', 'harnessing and out-of-control' Press' and all the rest of the hooey. If and when it comes to a confrontation with MPs, I shall most certainly stand by my colleagues to fight against any control. But I shall still be obliged to hold my fingers to my nose in the company of some of them.