Monday, September 25, 2006

Monty: Day of the Locust

Ex-Mirror boss David Montgomery poses in the Indy today with a foreign newspaper in his hands and foreign newspapers fanned out on a glass table before him - all copies of regional titles his company Mecom has purchased recently. And all written in tongues he does not speak. How alarming it must be to part with hundreds of millions of other people's Euros for things one doesn't understand. Ah, same old Monty, some cynics may say.

Raymond Snoddy paints a very pretty picture of a reinvented media guru known on the Continent as the "locust". Though most of his new titles have very slim profit margins, the Murdoch manque is certain he can fatten up his acquisitions by sacking "back office" people and putting ads where journalism once rolled.

But Snoddy should have mentioned Yava for a better sense of where we imagine Mecom could be heading.

Yes, Yava was a Monty company. In 2000 he came up with a cunning plan - put computer terminals with internet access in pubs and Naafi canteens. Brilliant! The man who's teetotal (though he has a drink-driving conviction) knew all about boozers and their desire to write emails after the fourth pint. But anyway, he raised £20m of other people's money to fund this folly.

A mere year or two later the company was wound up. Perhaps he thought mobile texting would never take off due to the higher incidence of arthritis, or something.

Meanwhile, relationships chez Monty don't appear too cheerful. I hear that Lara (his moody daughter with tabloid journalist Sharon Feinstein) is somewhat at odds with his current wife Sophie who herself is in need of TLC as she faces a daily battle with their unruly five-year-old son.

To cap it all, David has reverted to his "distant and distracted" mode as work becomes his great excuse to neglect emotionally his nearest and dearest. One just hopes he doesn't succumb to past weaknesses and seek solace in the bosom of another. Madame Arcati asks her readers to send healing prayers to this troubled family.

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