Wednesday, December 21, 2005

From The Dumbiedykes Headquarters Of Scotland's Notional Newspaper, The Sorry Tale Of The Publisher's Pebbles

Over the past 48 hours, the mood around The Scotsman's Dumbiedykes headquarters has been one of dread and gung-ho fatalism, so it is fair to say that the departure of the Barclay Brothers and the Publisher, Mr Andrew Neil, has changed little.
However, the dawning of a new era has prompted a few brave souls to start sharing their favourite moments of the Barclays-era. There are many - and survivors are encouraged to send more - but my favourite tale took place on the day of the official opening of Barclay House, when HM The Queen, HRH Prince Philip, the Barclays and Sir David's son Aidan (smoking a huge cheroot, in blatant contavention of the no-smoking policy in Barclay House) were shown round the building by luckless Scotsman executives. The Publisher was there, of course, in proud and relaxed form, but perhaps even he was feeling slighly dry-mouthed in the presence of royalty. So he reached for a bowl of pan drops and tossed a couple into his mouth. Unfortunately, the peppermints were decorative pebbles, and The Publisher was forced to suck manfully on the stones until royal eyes were averted.
Coming soon (maybe): The Time a Scotsman Feature Writer Almost Set Fire To The Publisher's Hair When Flamboyantly Lighting A Fat Cigar


Anonymous said...

I met the great man - Neil, I refer to: the Barclays may be great , but being reclusive it is hard to tell - a few times, and recall little except beady eyes (the much-talked-of hair is not, in real life, as garish as one reads) and a fondness for expensive cigars, which arrived in a humidor the size and shape of a coffin.

Anonymous said...

After the sale, a sudden and mysterious disappearance from the building:

This may be the first case of asset stripping in reverse, but barely had news of the sale of The Scotsman reverberated round the building than the bench with the bronze man reading The Scotsman disappeared from the Barclay Towers foyer.

The disappearance has sparked a wave of shocked speculation though the building. This was a particularly popular seat for Kirk Elder. When he staggered in with his handwritten contributions and groceries from Valvonna & Crolla he would slump on the bench and engage the metal man in long conversation about the shortcomings of The Scotsman. Little wonder he was sat there for hours.

One small telling point: the newspaper being read by the metal statue was of broadsheet size and thus had become something of a dated icon, though this only made its attractions all the more evident to many. Here was no "compact" reader happy to make do with Suduko puzzles. Mystery surrounds where the bench and the bronze man may have gone, but clearly it was felt inappropriate to have a sculpture of such wanton extravagance lying round in a Johnston owned publication. He may well have been moved to the main reading room of Kelso library, or more likely, winched up the craggy rocks and walls of Brechou in the Channel Islands to sit gazing forlornly out to sea. How humiliating to have only doubled one's money to £160 million in ten years, what a sodding misfortune, but at least the property remains in the ownership of Brechou Enterprises Ltd and the rent can be tripled the day that those Johnstons walk into the building.

A vanishing Christmas and bronze New Year to you all.

"Metal Mickey"