Thu, 19 September, 2019

Your pension payslips

All MGNPS members will have received a letter regarding their pension payslips from David Astley, secretary to the Trustee, together with a personal data form.

Currently, paper payslips are sent out from the Reach pensions office in the post every month, but there is a plan to change to electronic payslips from May 2020.

AMP officers are in discussion with group pensions operations manager Tony King about the implications of the proposed change, particularly in relation to members with no e-mail address and no recourse to electronic communications. We will update this post in due course.

Meantime, please get in touch via the Contact Us form if you have a query or problem.

Simon Fox shock departure

With thanks to Press Gazette:

Reach chief executive Simon Fox is stepping down in August, the Mirror, Express and Star publisher has confirmed. Fox will be succeeded by Jim Mullen, a former News International (now News UK) director of digital strategy, and more recently chief executive of betting firm Ladbroke Coral.

Fox has spent seven years with Reach. He said: “There is never an ideal time to leave an organisation, but if there were it would be now. The integration of the Express and Star has been successfully completed, digital growth is accelerating and our trading and cash positions are strong.

“I am proud of what has been achieved and will provide Jim with whatever support is required to ensure a smooth handover.”

Mullen said: “I am delighted to be joining Reach at such an exciting time and look forward to building upon its digital transformation.”

Reach reported savings of £11m for the year so far, £6m of which is the result of “synergies” following the merger of the Mirror, Express and Star. It is on track to made £15m in annualised savings this year, and £22m in 2020, as well as £10m in structural cost savings for the year.

Reach chairman Nick Prettejohn said Fox “leaves Reach in very good health, with a strong balance sheet and real progress in developing the business for the future”. He added: “We have an excellent successor in Jim and I am pleased to have a seamless transition.”

Celebrating the l-o-n-g lunch


With echoes of Mirror long lunches of yesteryear, a few of the retired “usual suspects” gathered recently for an Editor’s Lunch at the Bleeding Heart brasserie, not far from our old Holborn Circus building. Owner Robert Wilson threw the inaugural Editor’s Lunch three years ago when I was lucky enough to be on holiday in London from Australia, where I was based at the time.

Robert decided to renew the gig and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. He treated former Mirror Group guys and gals to a sumptuous meal of melt-in-the mouth smoked salmon, followed by perfect Chateaubriand. Robert, ever grateful for the days of unlimited expenses which helped establish his restaurant and wine bar as one of the finest in London, also served up fine Champagne, followed by his own label New Zealand white (Robert and his wife have a vineyard Down Under) and an Aussie red.

Our glasses never ran dry on one of the hottest days of the year and we toasted our host for his generosity. We also raised our glasses to Bill Hagerty, who recently celebrated his 80th birthday.

Former Sunday People photographer David Graves organised the invitations. Joining David, a Bleeding Heart regular, were Plain John Smith, John Kimble, Bill Hagerty, Tony Purnell, Frank Thorne, Brendan Monks, Jill Palmer, all smiles and looking in great health, Sue Bullivant and the lovely ex-Mirror promotions girl Lesley Hutchins, resplendent in a bright yellow summer dress. And me, of course.

Tales of old newspaper characters abounded, many from Plain John, including the hilarious tale of how the late People reporter Shan Davies went off the radar for days on a bender with singer PJ Proby after he was cleared of shooting at his girlfriend. During their drunken escapade, Proby confessed to Shan that he HAD shot at his girlfriend and had duped the jury.

However, when Shan eventually turned up at the office on the Saturday, she mentioned Proby’s confession only in passing. More important was her revelation to all of us on the gobsmacked People newsdesk: “PJ’s dog ate my knickers!” Of course, we asked in unison whether the poor dog was still alive – Shan’s exclusive of the shooting made the Splash. That’s showbiz!

However, Sue Bullivant – a close friend of Shan back in the day – was more impressed to hear that Robin Parkin once met Marilyn Monroe when he knocked on her door, and that Plain John had shaken hands with Elvis Presley. Other famous names dropped included Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and Frank Sinatra. Our traditional Fleet Street-style lunch lasted from 1pm till about 5pm, when somebody mentioned those immortal words: “Shall we go on?”, and we adjourned to the nearby Castle pub for over an hour. We were well and truly lunched.
*** Don’t let these party animals hog all the limelight. If you and your ex-MGN chums – any title, any department – have a reunion or other social, do send in the details via the Contact Us form and we’ll let AMP members read all about it.

How I captured the moon


WHEN I joined the Daily Express in October 1965, aged 23, I was blissfully unaware that within five months I would play a pivotal part in landing one of the most exciting exclusive stories in the history of journalism. The famous Daily Express headline was: “The Express Catches the Moon.” The Sunday Telegraph very kindly said it was “The scoop of the century.”

The big event happened in February, 1966, just four years after the Cuba crisis and bang in the middle of the Cold War.
I was so fascinated by the post-Sputnik era I begged the newsdesk to send me to Jodrell Bank, the famous radio telescope founded by Sir Bernard Lovell in 1945 at a site in Cheshire, 15 miles from the Daily Express building in Manchester.

The story: The Russians had landed a craft on the Moon’s dark side and was taking the first pictures of the surface for the Russian audience only. The world’s press flocked to Jodrell Bank for the many press briefings hosted by Sir Bernard.
What surprised me was the fact that nobody appeared to be interested in how the Russians were receiving the pictures.

How were they being transmitted, I wondered. Because I knew nothing about photography I decided to collar Sir Bernard on his own, out of the hearing of rival hacks from home and abroad. My luck was in when I saw him crossing the room late at night. To my astonishment he told me the images from the moon were being transmitted “with the same technology used by newspapers, a form of morse code, all dots and dashes etc”.”

When I asked if my newspaper could obtain the pictures he replied: “Of course not, they belong to the Russians, and you are not a radio telescope.” I asked him whether Jodrell Bank could intercept the pictures and he replied: “No, because we are not a newspaper office.”

So I said: “So how are the Russians getting the pictures?” He said: “Because their telescopes will have your newspaper equipment, a sort of fax machine.” I said: “So if we had the equipment here at Jodrell Bank you could intercept the images?” You could have knocked me down with a feather when he replied: “Of course.”

You can imagine my delight when he accepted my offer to get the essential equipment to Jodrell Bank. I rushed to a telephone (no mobile phones then) and spoke to my news editor, who was gobsmacked. He telephoned the London office and the London editor called me back for a full explanation. He said: “Go home immediately and tell nobody. Do not file a story. Enjoy your day off. Well done.”

During the night my colleagues at the Ancoats, Manchester building knocked down the wall of the dark room and put the heavy machinery on a lorry for its 15-mile trip to Jodrell Bank.

While I was taking part in BBC Breakfast I met Ian Morison, who was a 22-year-old student astronomer at Jodrell Bank at the time of my scoop. He is now an author of six books and is a professor. He told me: “I was the First Man on Earth to see those images coming through, thanks to your newspaper. It was awesome. I was lucky to be there that night.”

* Fifty years later I was told by an old Express picture desk colleague that the Press Association had put out a story early in the morning that the Russians were transmitting their photos with traditional press equipment. Fortunately for me, my rivals did not act upon that information. In any case, the Express had a great head start.
The rest, as they say, is history.

Mid-summer madness on the Thames

Drama ensued at a recent Mirror social when Brendan Monks, snapper extraordinaire, nearly fell into the Thames. Click through for more…


Too impatient to wait until Christmas for a get together, a “sensational group of old Mirror mates” broke with tradition and chose mid-June for a summer version of the Old F*rts. The gig was so enjoyed by this jolly crew, see pic below, organisers Pauline McLeod and Bryan Rimmer have already pencilled in next year’s event on the social calendar.

The drink fest was at Browns in London’s Butlers Wharf with, as you can see from the pic, stunning views of Tower Bridge. Apparently “…Browns would love to have us back: we were well-behaved (shome mishtake, shurely?) were a big enough crowd to fill a good space, plus we spent a lot of money”.

“We were quaffing and eating by the Thames, iconic views, no hurry to get back to work. Oh yes, and it wasn’t raining.”

But back to Brendan… he was balancing precariously on a chair up above the river with only chest-high open railings between him and the grey swirling waters below, prepping to take a group shot.

BUT… he’d forgotten to take the lens cap off. He tried to talk his way out of his faux pas while perilously laughing his head off – if it hadn’t been for the charming waiter hanging on to the restaurant chair, Brendan would have had an early bath. And ruined his favourite Ralph Lauren cricket bear shirt in the process. OMG!

Main picture, left to right: Bryan Rimmer, Lesley Hutchins, AN Other, Frank Thorne, Tony Purnell (sunglasses), Bill Rowntree (with beer), Sue Bullivant, Brendan Monks, Louise Flood, Hilary Bonner, Chris Kelly, Pauline McLeod (foreground) Lesley-Ann Jones, Peter Moeller (rear, facing the wrong way!), Ray Weaver (striped shirt), Geri Hosier (ex-NoW), David Hancock (rear) and John Blake

A window on history

JIMMY BAYNES, former chairman of the Mirror NGA Graphics chapel and a good friend to the AMP, has penned a fascinating memoire about his life and times in the print, complete with photos and line drawings. He was looking for somewhere to preserve his archive – and you can now read it in All Our Yesterdays. Enjoy!

OUT NOW! Mirror Pensioner

The Spring issue of Mirror Pensioner is on its way. If you’re a member and you haven’t received yours by week ending April 26, please let us know via the Contact Us page. If you’re not a member but want to to be, let us know – and we’ll send you a copy of Mirror Pensioner when you join.

Wayzgoose, anyone?

On this Maundy Thursday, Revel Barker sends a reminder about the Wayzgoose

From Gentlemen Ranters, Good Friday, 2008

Yesterday – and there’s a fiver here says that you forgot it – was Wayzgoose. I didn’t forget it, so please excuse the shaky writing.

Time was when everybody in The Street, and on provincial mornings and weeklies (but not the poor bloody infantry on the evenings, who would have to wait a whole day) would have been aware and, likely, out celebrating.

It was the one guaranteed day off in the year, all down to a tradition dating from – oh, I don’t know, since time immoral.

It was the day that everybody in The Print took off.

The Queen called it Maundy Thursday and distributed money to the public; the lads called it Wayzgoose and distributed money to the publicans.

To the seaside, they went, in hired charas, or out into the country in search of pubs beyond the ken of licensing authorities.

We went on a mystery tour sometimes and somebody had the bright idea that we’d all guess our ultimate destination, and write it on a pound note that we’d put in hat. My guesses were usually quite close, but the bus driver won it, two years running, so we stopped letting him play after that.

Trust me: there’s a boatman where I live who advertises ‘Mystery trips to the Blue Lagoon’.

The secret (not about the bus driver – we never solved that one – but about the day off) was that Wayzgoose was the day before Good Friday which was a non-printing day.

We needed nominal cover in the office and the Daily Mirror wisely employed its own rabbi in the newsroom, for the same reason that it employed Jocks so that the natives could be off at Christmas in return for allowing the Scots time off to celebrate their own pagan festival the following week.

So, you are wondering, why Wayzgoose.

I’m glad you asked, because nobody knows.

The best sources say origin obscure, or even origin unknown.

Certainly by the 17th century the master printer – usually the owner, of course – in a print shop would treat his staff to an annual dinner on August 24, which was seen as the day when summer stopped and the nights started drawing in. The date also marked the issuing of candles for late-afternoon working (although no connection between goose and candle has actually been established).

The date was later switched to Maundy Thursday because, there being no publishing on Good Friday, it was a guaranteed day off (the only other one being Christmas Eve) for everybody in the print.

Because it was now a full day, it came to involve an excursion, usually a trip to the seaside, or to a country pub.

Of course, Murdoch and Maxwell then abolished Good Friday.

But it is as good an excuse for a piss-up as any.

And one that should be perpetuated, I think. If for no other reason than that it is such a wonderful word.

Maybe we should restore it by organising an outing incorporating a pub crawl, but instead of going out of Fleet Street, go back into it for an afternoon.

It’s a year away. I know that, nowadays, it takes time to plan things.

Any takers?

The Last Pub In Fleet Street – A Reporter’s Notebook, by Revel Barker is now available post-free, worldwide, from:



Did you enjoy a Sporting Life?

If yes, put this in your diary. The next Sporting Life reunion is on Thursday, May 9. More info on Members’ Noticeboard.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.