Rod "Umpteen Jags" Gilchrist, the retired deputy editor of the Mail on Sunday, has turned into a "Pedalling Nazi", if we are to believe the October issue of Saga Magazine. Introduced as a "mild-mannered man" by someone with a droll sense of humour, Gilchrist has penned a Confessions piece about how he becomes a raving lunatic once he's on the mountain bike his old paper gifted him - along with the high six-figure pay-off last year.
"After a lifetime of meeting deadlines, conforming at work, being responsible, being a good Boy Scout, my optimum compaction carbon-fibre frame seemingly wills me to break all society's rules. I am gripped by an overwheleming urge to behave badly," he writes. He then describes how he scatters pedestrians, ignores lollypop ladies and disobeys traffic rules that "displease me".
Age plainly has not mellowed the whippet-thin Gilchrist, it would seem. Even now the psychic among his former colleagues at Derry Street claim still to hear his shrieks and ravings, perhaps etherically impregnated into the walls forever - what Derek Acorah calls "residual energy". He wasn't a total brute in the least but it didn't take much to set off his ear-splitting tantrums - so his psycho cycling is a reassuring sign that he still hyper-ventilates with vigour.
Gilchrist's verbal assault on the grand Victoria Mather (now Vanity Fair's travel ed) back in 2004 is worth recalling. At an Argentine embassy bash he charged up to her and launched into a filthy-mouthed tirade, denouncing her for "going on television and talking cock". Mather had taken part in a BBC brekkie show criticising journos who accept travel freebies.
This must have touched a raw nerve - Gilchirst in his many years as a writing editor gained a notoriety for his Phileas Fogg ligging and was in fact banned from writing about his subsidised travels in 2004 by the Mail on Sunday. Whether he continued to write these pieces under the nom-de-plume James Fawcett I cannot comment.