Tracee is in the office this morning. She explains that this is because she cannot work from home, as there are two nameless men in her bedroom blocking the path to her laptop, She called Richard early doors:
"The papers are the wrong way round today."
"What?" Rich struggled, as he balanced three or four children aged under sixteen months on his knee, whilst clawing the triplets back from an electric socket with his lethal right foot.
"There's footballers all over the front pages, with some other rugby bloke."
"Just write whatever you think our readers will be interested in, Tracee," Rich responded, extracting a child from a toaster. The man is a wizard (and fertile).
It is strange. Marcus Rashford has been busy this last week taking photos of children's lunch boxes comprising of three Cheesy Wotsits and a piece of bread while trying to work out what towelling slipper-sandals go best with an MBE, and has grabbed column inches from the outgoing Business Secretary, Robert Jenrick, who has been left to concentrate on his business relationship with Richard Desmond.
However, in comes former Harrow schoolboy 'Super Maro' Itoje, who wants to do for school laptops what United's Mr Rashford did for lunches. England’s highest paid rugby player, at £1 million a year and counting, says there is an urgent need to get computers and free broadband into the homes of the estimated 1.78 million children locked out of online lessons. He makes this point from the front pages of The Sunday Times this morning.
Itoje, like Rashford, is represented by Roc Nation, the talent agency founded by the hip hop billionaire Jay-Z, which has backed social improvements in America. We in the NTI newsroom are not, in any way, besmirching their efforts and welcome the distraction from the next civil war in America which is due to start on, what is it now?, Wednesday, as well as the word 'inoculation', which insists on being spelt with just one initial 'n', whereas 'vaccination' wades in with a much more sensible double 'c'.
Then there is Rio Ferdinand, erstwhile England and Manchester United captain who managed to squeeze onto the Business pages of the papers this week, having been appointed an independent non-executive director at the Gym Group. Rio is a passionate believer in the wide-reaching mental and physical benefits of living a healthy and active lifestyle and is said to be joining Gym Group not, as some cynics might have you believe, as a heavyweight PR icon, but to 'help shape growth and strategy'. He must be good as well, as many women all over the UK took the news articles in which he was photographed upstairs this last week to read the story over and again.
As you dig deeper into the media this bright but chilly Sunday morning, the 'Retail Going Down The Sewer' sections are still much thicker than those about 'Travel' and 'Eating Out'. Starting with Arcadia, which now has just two front runners seeking to buy its brands and make sense of the senseless Philip Green's fallen empire. Next is headlining, ably coupled with US hedge fund Davidson Kempner. They go into the final round neck-and-neck with Authentic Brands, the US owner of the Barneys department store, which has held talks over a joint bid with JD Sports, and from Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group.
Deloitte, which is running the sale, has asked them to get a wiggle on, as it is busy buying itself, so has set a final bids deadline of tomorrow. These bids are expected to be well north of £200 million.
Mike Ashley has returned from wintering in the Maldives much refreshed and has also, it is reported, made a £200 million bid for Peacocks from his arch-rival Philip Day, who is in effect controlling the sale as secured creditor. Philip is giving in rather too limply, as far as we see it, but is holding out for £5 million more. This is fairly intriguing, as we at NTI have long held the view that Mr Day wants the brand for himself, which is, of course, insanity, and if Ashley's bid is not accepted he will step in and buy the 400-plus Peacocks stores. It is as if he has an inexplicable attraction for an old girlfriend, who only he cannot see is transitioning into a desert warthog of northern Kenya.
And what about National Car Parks, known lovingly as 'NCP'? The Japanese-owned operator has requested trial by combat with swords with its landlords, having missed a rather sizeable December rent quarter payment, and telling them it cannot afford to pay its monthly rental payments, either. NCP is regarded as being very well financed and a spokesperson for the landlords called their action 'cheeky'. This is really quite inflammatory, as it is well-known that in Japanese the word 'cheeky' translates as 'your sister has the breath of a vampire whore and your mother makes biscuits for the entire army'.
NCP declined to comment.