Fox (n): carnivore of genus vulpes; crafty person; scavenger; (vb) to confuse; -ed (adj): to be drunk.

Monday, 25 May 2015

The most interesting man you don't know.

The name of Neville Thurlbeck is one that strikes fear into the heart of most journalists.

To know Neville was on the same job, booked into the same hotel or trying for the same interview was like receiving a death sentence: he never failed, so you were going to.

But it's a name with little resonance for anyone else. It's just a byline, someone who sounds underwhelming. Perhaps that's why on the front cover of his new book Neville's name is in smaller print than the title, the graphics, and the name of his former employer - the News of the World.

 
On Fleet Street Neville is renowned for a dress sense that involves tweed and leather elbow patches, for a catalogue of jaw-dropping exclusives from Rebecca Loos to Max Mosley and Jeffrey Archer... and for being the journalist who detonated an atomic bomb under the phone hacking scandal.

It was Neville who tasked the paper's private detective Glenn Mulcaire with investigating Milly Dowler when the schoolgirl went missing in 2002.

That led to the voicemail interception which, when discovered and reported by The Guardian almost a decade later, turned a media scandal into an international corporate disaster and led in a few days to the closure of the most successful newspaper in the English-speaking world.

In his book Neville issues an unreserved apology to all affected by his decision. But if you want any more detail about that, his six month jail sentence or the five weeks he served in a cell alongside Andy Coulson, his former editor and long-time friend, you won't find it.

This is a memoir of a 30-year career, and as such its 321 pages are an edited, pared-down description of how Neville broke some of the biggest stories in living memory.

For anyone wondering how journalists get their stories when they're not phone hacking, it's a revelation. The lengths you have to go to get a hidden camera in the right place in an orgy, the problem with refusing to pay the friendly hooker what she was expecting, and how to find documentary evidence of who owns the phone that's sending Rebecca Loos dirty text messages.

There's a lot on Neville's humble north east beginnings, his work ethic, his first job as a teacher in Africa, before he gets to the Harrow Observer and works his way on to Fleet Street. There's a few tantalising snippets about unnamed politicians and the stories that got away, and how he began working as an informant for the police and security services. And there's a great deal of affection for a career which Neville obviously loved.

It's the book of how Neville would like to be remembered - as he says at the beginning, if no-one else likes it at least it will be something for his children to read.

But every newspaper story has material that didn't make the cut. Lawyers and editors take chunks out, The Reader is judged uninterested in other parts, and the pressure of space means you've got room only to tell the best bits.

In that, Neville's book is just like every story the News of the World ever published, back in the days when everyone bought it, few people liked to admit it, and the great and good prayed every Saturday night that they weren't in it.

After you've read it, you can't help wondering what else Neville's got up his sleeve.

* Neville's book, Tabloid Secrets, is published by Biteback for £11.99 and available in all good bookshops. It's also an ebook. Follow Nev on Twitter here: @nthurlbeck

Friday, 15 May 2015

Chuka going, UKIP imploding, and Ed partying in Ibiza...

... all add up to Britain being totally bonkers. The possible reasons for this are the subject of today's column for the Daily Mirror, which you can read here.

*puts underpants on head*

Monday, 11 May 2015

How Labour lost the General Election...

... and how their voters gave us a Tory government is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

And stop whinging.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Why bother to vote?

It's not like it changes anything, as you can see from today's special General Election day column in the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Stay at home, why don't you?

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

After the election...

... and what we can expect are the topics of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

I'm off to put a tenner on the Shapps-1000 right now.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Which Prime Minister to vote for...

... and how we're supposed to make up our minds for the General Election 2015 is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Don't hate me. There's no other choice!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Russell Brand and Ed Miliband...

... and why it's not all as moronic as you might think is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you may read, should you wish, here.

Please send your personal abuse c/o your mum.

Monday, 27 April 2015

David Cameron is going to lose...

... the general election, and the reason why is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Beware secret trap doors and Ian Brady.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Jamelia and fashion for fat people...

... are the topics of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

And of COURSE it should be banned. But it won't be.

General Election: What's the point in voting?

The answer to this question is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror, which you can read here.

Remember to vote early, and vote often.

Friday, 17 April 2015

The politics pantomime...

... and why Wee Jimmy Krankie makes a really weird genie is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Oh no I won't! Oh yes I will! Etc.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Prince Charles' private letters...

... and what exactly they might say is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Worryingly, it's probably not far from the truth.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Jeremy Clarkson sacked...

... and the people who could replace him are the topic of today's column for today's Daily Mirror which you can read here.

And let's hope that's the last I have to write about it for a while, OK?

Boris Johnson as Prime Minister...

... and why David Cameron might want you to think about what that would be like is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

And I'm serious about the Turkish delight.

Monday, 23 March 2015

The 9 things we learned from the 2015 solar eclipse...

... and why it wasn't as rubbish as you might think is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Only another 75 years til the next one.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

George Osborne's budget...

.. and all the things he didn't tell us are the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

It might make you angry. I hope so, anyway.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Prince Harry leaving the Army...

... and what his new job might be is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

Obviously, am hoping for the Kanye West one, but I'll be happy with any of them.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Comic Relief, Terry Pratchett, celebrity charity work...

... and why that's all great but an unfamous woman called Andrea Annear was even greater is the topic of today's Daily Mirror column which you can read here.

You will probably need a tissue by the end. Have a nice weekend, humans - and give each other a hug.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Jeremy Clarkson...

... and why sacking him from Top Gear might be deserved but would make everything worse for the rest of us is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

NOW GIMME THE FOOD.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The murder of dogs at Crufts...

... and why torturing animals makes you less than human is the topic of today's column for the Daily Mirror which you can read here.

Euthanise the lot of 'em, I say.