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Thursday, August 9, 2007


Richard Stott
Understandably, there have been quite a few email criticisms of the Daily Telegraph Richard Stott obit. ‘Mean-spirited’ and ‘snidey’ are two of the descriptions that come to mind. It was also inaccurate.
To describe Richard as Maxwell’s protégé was an insult. And Maxwell did NOT appoint Richard to the editorship of the Sunday People - Tony Miles did that, on January 14th, 1984.
Maxwell didn’t arrive at the Mirror until six months later and I remember a leader written by Richard during that time, signalling his opposition to the looming Maxwell takeover. Hardly the action of a man waiting to welcome his patron!
Fortunately, all the other obit writers recognised the real Richard Stott and the true nature of the stormy Stott-Maxwell relationship. But there are people out there who read only the Daily Telegraph and two of them are my friends. When they commented on that obit the day after its publication I guided them to the Gentleman Ranters version.
Playing a small part in putting the record straight made me feel just a little better. - Allan Davies
[See LINKS for other Stott obituaries]
Talking of Obits (Richard Stott, July 30), anybody recall that Cudlipp got Aneurin Bevan to write a 3,000 word obit on Churchill for the Daily Mirror?
Bevan died first.
The Mirror, with the most convoluted piece of reasoning you ever saw or heard about, printed the Churchill obit on Bevan’s demise as part of his own obit.
From memory the strap said something like ‘How great the man was is shown here in his appraisal of Churchill’s life, a man whose politics he hated but whose ability he admired.’ – John Edwards
Your stories of the Queen Mum (The Queen and I, Revel Barker, last issue) reminded me that my greatest failure - apart from booze - as a reporter was that I failed to stand up a story told me by Sir Kyffin Williams RA.
He claimed that the QM was the daughter of a Welsh servant by the Earl of Strathmore. Kyffin, who was a bit of a snob, knew more about aristocratic scandals than Dempster had dreamed about. When I wrote his – as yet unpublished - biography I checked some of the more alarming ones out and found they were true.
The only printed reference I have seen was in Kitty Kelley’s book, Royalty, but there were all sorts of interesting clues. We all know of the mystery that surrounds her birthplace and her christening and how the Earl was fined for not registering it. Less widely known was the nickname the Windsors gave her. It was ‘Cookie’ and she was incandescent when they gave the name to one of their dogs.
In one of his diaries James Lees Milne recalls a conversation he overheard between them when the Queen told the Queen Mother, ‘The difference between us is that I was born royal.’
When I interviewed Lees Milne I taxed him about it but he said he had no memory of writing it.
I was consoled and flattered that in the last days of his life he found time to mention me kindly in what proved to be his posthumous diary.
Revel claims to be one of the two pressmen to whom the QM spoke.
Inadvertently she spoke to many more. I remember a story when I was on the Mirror and the Royal Yacht was cruising round the Highlands. For some reason the ship to shore radio from Britannia was on the same wavelength as the trawler fleet. The trawlermen - of all people - complained at the bad language the QM used when talking on the line.
The Daily Record listened in to a man, I with admiration.
I do not seek to denigrate her. I have loved her since I covered a royal visit to Manchester in the very early fifties and noticed how as she walked along a line of waiting dignitaries she always gave a quick glance at the photographers to make sure they were all in position.
…Unlike the Duke of Edinburgh who has rightly been called the most upwardly mobile Greek since Icarus. I had the temerity to ask him at Oulton Park during a polo game what he had scored.
‘Who is fucking counting?’ he replied.
Tommy Lyons, whom heaven preserve, said ‘If the c**t is going to talk to you like that, don’t tell him that a dog has just pissed in his hat.’
Tommy rarely took photographs as a matter of principle; but I recall the Express had one of the luckless Prince with dog piss rolling down his face.
May I say how flattered I am to find myself in such august ranting company. - Ian Skidmore