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Paper Monitor

10:30 UK time, Monday, 26 January 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

If King Arthur personally offered you a place in his harem, would you leap at the chance or politely decline this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?

If you are a reporter, you would say no as it is your job to observe dispassionately rather than participate in events. Unless, of course, you specialise in gonzo pieces. In which case, you would grab such an opportunity with both hands. Quite literally.

But Daily Mail journalists are, in the main, nicely brought up coves. So when King Arthur Uther Pendragon issued just such an invitation to girl reporter Jane Fryer, she declined (one assumes), and adds that "[He] then made a great show of pretending to grab my right breast".

That was the last time she met him, during summer solstice, and she recycles this story now she's met him again for a piece about, well, shall we let the headline tell the story?

"Druid wars: How a drunken row over 4,000-year-old bones is causing chaos in pagan circles"

A prime example of a headline that makes you want to read more, yet also tells you everything you need to know. The Mail is a master of this particular art.

Fryer also adds that the self-styled king has "a tendency to ramble", which is a bit rich, given that it takes an admittedly entertaining seven paragraphs to get to the bit about the bones.

Meanwhile, there's yet more fun in store for the paper's fine stable of headline writers with the tale of women getting stuck into cocaine: "Middle class addicts soar as glamour drug sweeps the shires." How long have the subs been keeping that baby on ice? So to speak.

The story is illustrated with a picture of Welsh songbird Katherine Jenkins, who looks distractingly like Geri Halliwell, who also makes an appearance in the Mail after being papped - accidentally, no doubt - while out for dinner with her new gentleman caller. And George Michael.

The Daily Telegraph is also concerned with the comings and goings of the female of the species, in particular Chelsy Davey, the now former girlfriend of Prince Harry. Not to be confused with Captain Chesley B "Sully" Sullenberger the Third.

The paper's front page offers the teaser headline "How Chelsy announced her split with Harry". What? How? Did she push him into the wheelie bin she's pictured passing? She might have shouted: "You're, like, so binned, you are, innit. Like." (As Paper Monitor is given to understand the yoof of today speak.)

Not at all, but her chosen method would make it into a modern-day reworking of 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. The Telegraph primly reports that "Miss Davey, 23 announced the end of their five-year relationship on Facebook, updating her online profile to read 'Relationship: Not in one'."

And finally, just as deadlines sometimes favour Fleet St's finest - to whit the news carnival as the Hudson River became a watery runway - sometimes they do not. Would an in-form Andy Murray continue his winning ways in the Australian Open?

As he only took to the court in Melbourne as the last of the late-night subs were heading towards Sleepyland, the papers are unable to carry news of his progress.

The Guardian plays it as safe as safe could be, simply pointing readers to its web coverage of the match. For those who have yet to catch up with the news, Paper Monitor will not spoil the surprise. Except to note today one is working from home as the plumber nurses one's boiler back to full health. And each time Murray is mentioned on Five Live, said plumber is unable to contain a wee snort of delight.

Needless to say, this plumber does not hail from Scotland.

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