Friday, 18 May 2007

Hercules the Bear and Phil the Night Editor

One morning on the Daily Mirror, it must have been about 1980, Night Editor Phil Walker asked what plans I had for lunch.

"Just the usual, I suppose," I answered, "too much to drink in questionable company."

"Come with me to the Cartoonist," he said. "Hercules the reknownedwrestling bear is making a personal appearance in the very bar itself."

"Dangerous, isn’t it?" I asked. "Not a bit!," said Phil. "Hercules is esteemed in every corner of the four hemispheres for his amiable demeanor and equable temperament. It says here in The Sun. He has hardly ever killed anybody. Anyway, he will probably be on a lead."

"Well," said I, "I have seen a lot of people - similarly acclaimed as exemplars of decorum - do their nuts and start clawing faces in pubs just because some careless habitué has stubbed out a Silk Cut on their pelt, regardless of whether they were on a lead or not." I said. "But I will go with you, as you are my chum."

Erstwhile, adly, but perhaps wisely, satraps of the Lord Mayor had invoked some long-forgotten medieval law involving beast baiting with bulldogs, and barred the bear from the bar.

Hercules showed up anyway, in a stout cage. Perhaps piqued at separation from his fans, he spent the afternoon lolling there, his back ostentatiously to the audience. I got bored with this turn of events and took off. Phil stayed.

Some time later, after lunch, quite a long time in fact, I was in my tiny office waiting to talk to a nice man from Mirror Books about some dull things. Phil came in. He appeared to have been overcome with emotion at the sight of the mighty behemoth.

He quickly said, thickly, "I am overcome with emotion at the sight of the mighty behemoth, and will lie down behind your desk for a bit, if you don’t mind."

Once installed there, out of sight, he relaxed and dozed off.

By the time the nice man from Mirror Books showed, I had forgotten Phil was there. Things went smoothly for a while, then Phil made a sort of noise like someone pretending to snore.

"What was that?" said the nice man. "Nothing," I said.
More talk. Then another noise.
"What was that?" said the nice man.
"Only the Night Editor," I said.
Then, from behind the desk, an anguished howl.
"I am not a Night Editor..I am... A MAN!"
The nice man from Mirror Books made an excuse and left.

...for those of you who'd rather know what I am doing now, rather than hear colorful tales of long-forgotten lore, I'd refer you to a blog kept by my wife, the onetime-esteemed American journo Rebekah Scott. Find it at .

COMING SOON...The Donald and I..Zec, that is

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