We can’t tell you what happened inside but watching the News Ltd Christmas party from the pub next door last week was great fun.
Lachlan appears to be trying to save money after a bad year because many of these people usually get their own Christmas Party rather than being dumped in with other newspapers and departments. This might explain the surprisingly small turnout from those quality journalists on The Australian who like to think they’re above most people, especially tabloid hacks.
This all-in approach meant that only about 10 per cent of the party goers were journalists.
But at least a few of the heavyweights turned up. Daily Telegraph editor in chief Col “sink-pisser” Allan was complaining jokingly to a few people inside that he was being stalked by Crikey.
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Col had apparently been at lunch for most of the day and then stumbled into the grubby Aurora Hotel near the Surry Hills head office of News Ltd for a few more cleansers so he was well and truly warmed up on arrival.
He arrived with editor Steve Howard but then wandered off into the night around 9.20pm. Crikey had secured a strategic outdoor and under shelter table at a bar about 30 metres from the entrance, and, crucially, right at the top of the cab rank.
Col was forced to walk right past on his way home and when we waved he said: “Ah, it’s the Mayne event.”
When Crikey tried to engage Col with a “how are you?”. He kept looking straight ahead and walking, simply saying “good”.
Guess that’s what you call getting the Col shoulder, but at least we door-stopped Australia’s greatest tabloid legend and got a brief comment as any color writer at an A-list function should do.
Tabloid legend Mark Morri was seen following Col and commented: “I just want to go and see where he is urinating.”
Lachlan’s replacement chief executive John Hartigan, a great mate of Col’s and former editor of the Telegraph, arrived in the chauffeur driven falcon at 8pm, offering the regal wave in Crikey’s direction in response to our big wave. Suspect he didn’t recognise who it was and we hadn’t moved two hours later when Harto departed with what looked through the misty rain to be a couple of blondes. One might have been his wife Gerry but it’s hard to say given the dark and the amount of beers already consumed by all involved.
Other chronological highlights include:
6.45pm: A gaggle of sports journos predictably are the first to arrive for the free booze. One suggests Crikey applies for Paul Barry’s job.
6.55pm: Sports editor in waiting Steve Fenech, Mario’s brother, arrives alone looking groovy in tight black tee-shirt and brown slacks.
7.10pm: Jovial pom Jerry Harris, the managing director of News’s Sydney operations and The Australian, responds with a wave to Crikey probably not recognising who it was.
9.30pm Crikey has brief conversation with The Australian’s editor in chief David Armstrong. We agree Nic Hopkins was a big loss for the Oz.
9.40pm Man vomits violently several times against tree in front of Crikey. Bloody advertising wankers!
10.27pm Man falls over in middle of road and then stagger walks into the distance. Bloody advertising wankers!
10.32pm Soul sister and Features Editor Liz Deegan emerges without pictorial boss Julian Zakarus and declares “The dance floor was full.”
11.05pm Australian business columnist Mark Westfield leaves to be with wife and three children after quick beer with Crikey. We agree on many things: Stan Howard is useless, HIH are dodgy, beer tastes good.
11.15pm: Writing is a bit hazy on this one and not sure if it is a joke entry, but it looks likes: “Coombs kisses Kerry”. Coombs is likeable managing editor and brilliant tee-totaller Rogers Coombs and Kerry is Kerry Taylor, Col’s long suffering secretary who had to call in the Draino to deal with his sink. They left in a cab together at 11.20pm.
11.18pm Animated Daily Telegraph editor Steve Howard sits next to Crikey. The notes appear to say: “What are you fucking writing here? It is all just jibber.” (doesn’t sound quite right).
11.20pm: A perfect gentleman identified as Shane Wallis approaches Steve Howard and says: “If this bloke is giving you trouble I’ll sort him out.” Thankfully, Howie declined the offer before joining Evie Gelastopolous, Andrew White, lanky Naomi Toy and Oasis groupie Kylie Keogh in the taxi queue.
A friend from the ABC and a Crikey subscriber had joined in the fun for a couple of hours but by this time they’d gone so I was alone and somewhat tired and emotional in front of about 30 people queued up in front waiting for cabs. What to do? Well, first we rang the News Ltd switchboard and told them to order a stack of cabs but the woman said they get personally charged for any outside calls. Rupert is such a tight arse some times. Then I called Legion Cabs and Combined and told them to get stack of cars down to remove all these VIPS who were crowding our personal space.
11.26pm After tolerating me for five hours, bar manager says pointedly: “Thanks mate, you’re welcome to leave whenever you like.” Maybe he’d worked out that I’d smuggled in a couple of Carlton Colds in the back pack.
11.29pm Steve Howard finally clears the queue and on getting in the cab turns to Crikey and says: “Can you mark my departure?” Consider it done old boy.
11.35pm: Crikey opts not to join the cab queue and instead starts walking home through the misty rain. Picks up cab near Oxford Street, asleep by 12.15pm.