Sat, 19 October, 2019


Celebrating the l-o-n-g lunch

Posted: July 27th, 2019

By FRANK THORNE

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.

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