Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Article excerpt

This week saw a stream of envelopes land on my doormat containing cheques for various strange amounts - 75 and 39 being the most common for some reason. These fees for media appearances were profits from others' misfortune, so I have cashed them with a degree of disquiet. I thought about handing them over to my old boss, Peter Mandelson, as it was his downfall that created the demand for me to hit the airwaves or `go up' as New Labour media parlance has it. I decided that money from a disgraced lobbyist would be too tainted. The Observer would have probably brought out a special edition. Nonetheless, the advent of the multi-channel age and 24hour news is certainly good news for occasional media tarts like me.

Nothing preparedme though for what happened last Monday. It's a classic tale of the trouble you can get into once you enter the lion's den of the gossip columns. `It's Inside Edition, here,' the caller explained. `Is that ITV2 or Granada Breeze?' I asked. `No, sir, we're the prime-time US entertainment show.' I held my breath: perhaps my dream of being the new David Letterman - for Britons who've never heard of him, he's an American talk show host - was just a transatlantic flight away. It was not to be. The caller continued, `Now that you are speaking out about Kate Moss and her sex addiction, we'd like you to do a live interview to New York.' I was suitably stunned. `What are you talking about?' `Haven't you seen the New York Post?' the voice asked impatiently. I pointed out that I lived in Primrose Hill not Greenwich Village. They eventually faxed the piece, which claimed that `Labor aide, Derek Draper, who recently stayed in the posh Priory Clinic, has been telling friends that model Kate Moss was being treated for sex addiction.' I had never been more upset or angry. It wasn't just untrue; I would never have discussed a fellow patient's treatment. I was mortified that people might think otherwise, especially the friends I had made while in the hospital. I could see that as soon as a British tabloid got wind of it, there would be a `Bigmouth strikes again - was a loathsome low-life' story. Consequently I had to put my spin-doctor hat on and go to work. First, my brilliant lawyer, Jonathan Coad of Schilling and Lom drafted a letter to the New York Post, threatening legal action. Then I gave the story of my denial to the London Evening Standard. I was lucky, as the editor of the Londoner's Diary had asked me whether the rumours circulating about Kate Moss were true the week before, and I had told him I would never have discussed such a thing, so he had first-hand knowledge of the truth. The story appeared and spiked the tabloid's guns. Still, it had cost me a lot of worry, about 500 in lawyer's fees and an afternoon of my time. But still, thank goodness Inside Edition tipped me off, otherwise my friends at the Mirror would have had a field day.

It seems I shall have to wait a while longer for my US late-night talk show. In the meantime, I still have my Sunday morning show (the co-host of which is Peter Hitchens) on Talk Radio here in the UK. Kelvin McKenzie, former editor of the Sun, is determined to take the station upmarket and mirror the success which speech radio has in the US and Australia. Working for Kelvin is like working for the bastard son of Peter Mandelson and Charlie Whelan. He is inspirational, fiercely intelligent yet capricious and foul-mouthed. On my first day he stopped me in the corridor and grabbed my wrist. …

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