Robert Maxwell’s greatest crime

February 23rd, 2011

His ghost has bewitched Bob Jones and made him think he is a poet. See below. Read it aloud to yourself trying to fit the metre which is a bit uneven.

A Hack’s Lament

Maxwell watchers go on watching

Til their dying day.

‘Cause that Czech so very bouncing

Made their lives seem quite like Hell.

Writing to Lord Thomson,

Pearson, and O’Reilly too.

Blackening their reputations.

‘Conducting their own vendettas

Obsessed and full of spite’.

But most of those Maxwell watchers

Did not hate at all.

Like Bob Clark his merchant banker

They knew Bob’s personal fate.

Exiled by the Nazis

From his native mountains so far away

To the Oxford plains where the people spoke so posh.

Bob Clark he most wanted

To reform and train the Czech

How to prosper without cheating

And reign in his nasty bullying.

Poor Bob, he failed, not once, but twice.

But if there was a more decent merchant banker

Him I did not know.

And better to have tried and failed

Than never to have tried at all.

The watchers, like the bankers, did not want

To put Bob Maxwell in to Wandsworth Jail.

They only wished to stop, his very rouguish ways.

Like stealing from the pockets

Of the Mirror workers’ fund.

All the watchers loved him

When his empire twice collapsed.

Because it got them front page headlines

And brought them passing fame.

Now he is not buried

But certainly drowned and dead

They have no longer

A vendetta to pursue.

But they want all young tycoons now living

To know that, yes, though, sometimes charming,

He really was a crook.

And if they try to use

His very clever tricks

Though they may fool the bankers.

They will have to face the watchers of today

Who are learning the journo trade

The old watchers are quite busy doing other things.

But they do have time to tell


That they must not change

What is clearly

A  tale, so very, very black

To one a lightish shade of grey,

Where the wily Czech is just  ‘alleged ‘

To have stolen five hundred million quid.

And the watchers do have time to tell

Their jolly Maxwell stories

To young journos in the pub.

With many years to learn just

How to stop, those would-be Robert Maxwell’s

Robbing pensioners today.

They’ll tell the youngsters

That they must learn to be ready for

Attacks on  characters and skills

By those super rich and holding power.

Paying thousands to PRs

To make their lies look just like facts.

If they really learn our humble trade

They’ll get some passing fame.

But better far than fame or wealth

Will be the welcome they receive

When they go into journo pubs.

Because all the blokes around them

Will know what they have done.

And though our trade is often grubby.

When we sometimes get it right.

Chaps like Richard Nixon have to

Leave that house so White.

And journos world wide over

Raise a jar to Bernstein and his buddy

And old Ben Bradlee too.

And any journo who does journalism

Even near as good as that.

Will have what is most worth having

Not praise from Rupert or Lord Rothermere

But smiles on the faces of the journos

Drinking in the pub.

Which is just what academics call.

‘The esteem of one’s colleagues’.

It does not rhyme.

Nor fit the metre.

But that’s academics, folks.

Hurrah, for journalists.

Another round, anyone?

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