21 NOVEMBER 1992, Page 62

Low life

Fired with enthusiasm

Jeffrey Bernard

Ireceived a letter at the Grouch() Club yesterday which had been addressed to `Jeffrey Bernard, A Flat Near Berwick Street Market'. It was written on recycled paper and in a woman's hand. Halfway through the letter was the sentence, 'I am 38, unattractive, too tall and talentless and just scraping by every day.' For a moment I thought it must be a note from Valerie Grove lying about her age, but I read on to discover it was from a nurse called Debo- rah who was writing to wish my broken hip a speedy recovery. She said more, sounded kind and I thought it sad that someone should put herself down like that.

I must have had Valerie Grove on my mind since she wrote that I have had free- bies to the Nile and Barbados and even so had been bored. When I took my daughter down the Nile it cost me £1,000 and I have never been bored in Barbados, not even on my last visit when it rained so heavily that I was trapped in a bar all one day. I wish someone would get something right. What I have got this afternoon is a freebie to Liv- erpool. Yes, mine is an enviable life.

Sadly, I hear that they have refurbished the Ade1phi Hotel. I wonder if I shall hear the echoes of the screams and laughter of the Grand National night parties from 20 years ago when that was a race and a half. I went up there a couple of times for the Sporting Life. On one occasion I went into the Ade1phi bar on the morning of the race thinking I would be its first customer, to find that I had been beaten to it by Fred Rime11. He was sitting in a corner by him- self stuck into a bottle of champagne. I am still kicking myself for not taking the hint. That day Gay Trip became the third winner of the race to be trained by him.

Today's trip is for a television chat show appearance and I can hear the questions

already. They are becoming as predictable as the conversations in the Coach and Divorces, if conversation is not too kind a word for waffling. Last Saturday a man in there spoke for two hours without interrup- tion. Oh well, it takes Bernard Levin 500 words to get to the point, and that reminds me. What on earth is going on at Mirror Group Newspapers? It used to be such a jolly place when I first worked there. They used to throw money at you. Now they have sacked Bill Hagerty from the People and replaced him with Bridget Rowe, which is like sacrificing a knight for a pawn. And it might surprise Hagerty that I should compare him to a knight because he was usually barking at me and snapping out questions like, 'Have you done your pieces?' at our merry band. Neither was he fooled by a man having deserted his type- writer but left a sheet of paper in it with `and furthermore' typed in the top left- hand corner. But, as I know to my cost, quite literally, Ms Rowe can bite without a warning bark. Come to think of it, I would quite like to know what has happened to the odd few people who have sacked me. I think they have done fairly well although, oddly enough, all the publicans who once barred me are now dead, Spanish exiles or on life support systems, with the exception of Nor- man. Bridget Rowe will probably end up with a luxury yacht. Ossie Fletcher, who sacked me from the Sporting Life in 1971, I am told is eking out his retirement in Aus- tralia. I wonder if he is still eking out a half-pint of bitter for two hours. Still, no worse than having to go to Liverpool.