Anorak News | Papers!


by | 23rd, April 2004

‘IN this age of European rapprochement there was, on the face of it at least, something of the zeitgeist about Richard Desmond’s greeting to four Telegraph newspaper executives.

Desmond mentioned the war

Desmond, owner of Express Newspapers, may, in the opinion of the Telegraph, have used a bad German accent, but “guten morgen” seems a nice enough greeting.

To non-German speakers, the phrase translates as “good morning”. And Desmond’s next comment, “sehr good”, is revealed by the Telegraph to mean “very good”.

In many top German firms, business meetings are conducted in English, so why not reverse the process and talk shop in the language of our European partner?

Had Desmond stopped there, things may have passed without incident. But the man, whose efforts to buy the Telegraph titles are all but sunk, ran out of steam.

It’s a situation many who have taken a German oral examination at GCSE and A–level know only too well. Having greeted the examiner, told him who you are and the colour of your sister’s car, your German runs dry.

You reach into your mind for anything German. And if you’re Richard Desmond, angered that the Telegraph is likely to pass into the hands of Berlin-based publishers Axel Springer, you say that Germans are all “Nazis”.

You then, as the Independent relates, begin goose-stepping around the room, taking care to place two fingers beneath your nose and perform Sieg Heil salutes.

Having suitably impressed the visiting executives, or that now quivering examiner, with your knowledge of German culture, you command all around you to join in with a rousing rendition of that old Teutonic staple “Deutschland Uber Alles”.

But from there things go down hill. Your knowledge stops short of knowing the German for “How do you feel about being owned by fucking Nazis?”, “fucking cunts” and “fucking wankers”.

Mr Jeremy Deedes, the Telegraph’s chief executive, did ask Mr Desmond at this point to sit down and get on with the planned meeting. But again, Desmond’s German fell short of the mark.

“Don’t you tell me to sit down, you fucking miserable piece of shit,” he replied. He then, apparently, asked Deedes if he’d like to step outside “to sort it out”.

“I regard it as extreme behaviour in front of adults,’ said Mr Deedes in fluent German, and now translated for Desmond’s benefit.

“Eventually it was clear there was no way of conducting a meaningful meeting.”

And the Telegraph’s board now refuses to meet again until Desmond buys himself a decent German-English dictionary.’

Posted: 23rd, April 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink