Cover of Stiff Competition.


Treasure  Hunt 

Competition entry forms graphic. 

  Where has FHM buried its honour? 

Cover of Stiff Competition.


Cartoon - Man in tattered clothing begging in street, with card saying: 'I Trusted FHM!'
Cartoon: auctioneer holding up an FHM promise.

‘A pound?  50 pence?  A penny?  Come on, ladies and gentlemen, this is a genuine FHM promise!’

Man being stabbed by FHM.

This is the natty decoration I’ve added to the roof of my car.  The full display can be seen on the Solution page (link at foot of Map & Clues page - see below).

                The Story So Far (updated November 2004)

In 1999 Richard Galpin, assistant editor of FHM, rang me to ask if I’d take part in a 5-page feature he was doing on competitions.  He said he wanted to devote two pages to my comping successes, and he promised that my prizewinning competitions novel would be included.  ‘No doubt your book is already selling well,’ he said, ‘but it’ll sell even better after this!’  I’d planned to offer the story to one of FHM’s rivals, but now there was no need.  I said yes, and Galpin asked me to send him the seven car presentation photographs he'd seen in an article I'd written for Competitors World.  I knew the photographs were worth a substantial amount of money, but I was happy to supply them for nothing because the promised book publicity was payment enough.

At the end of the interview a few days later, Galpin thanked me for sending the pictures and I immediately sought in return an assurance that my book’s details would be in the article. He gave it without reservation, and even agreed to include the mail order particulars.  Alas, when the feature was published, there was no mention of my novel at all.  The two pages promised to me had shrunk to half a page with no room for anything but the bare essentials. FHM  had, however, found room for my eye-catching car photos without which their feature would have looked pretty dull.

I wrote to the editor, Anthony Noguera, pointing out that had it not been for the promise of the book publicity, I would either have declined to take part or demanded a very high price for the use of my pictures (even at the minimum NUJ rate they were worth over £1,300).  He did not reply.

After writing in vain to the MD of FHM’s publishers, I contacted Kevin Hand, chief executive of the parent company, Emap Plc.  I thought I’d now be dealing with a principled and responsible person who would be horrified to learn that an Emap magazine had reneged on promises given in exchange for the use of valuable copyright material, but Mr Hand seemed unconcerned and expressed no determination to see the matter put right.  He just passed it back to FHM whose publisher, Mark Williamson (now departed), sent me a dismissive second class letter containing an excuse so feeble it could barely crawl out of the envelope.  Difficult decisions have to be made when selecting material, he said.  There was no offer to pay for the photos, and further correspondence failed to produce one.

Just before Christmas 2000 I wrote to the new publisher, James Carter, appealing for a little seasonal goodwill.  I sent a similar letter to the editor.  No replies.  A year later I again wrote to Carter, this time threatening legal action.  At last, a response!  He said he was consulting FHM’s solicitors to see if the magazine had any legal liability.  A child could explain their moral liability, but they were not concerned about that.  They could have put this matter right at any time, at no cost to the magazine, simply by inserting something about my book in another issue, but they weren’t prepared to do it.  They’d got what they wanted and that was all that mattered.  I never heard another word from Carter, although the solicitors must have told him FHM was liable under contract law.

The illustrated story of my comping success was all I had to promote my novel and establish myself as an author.  There is only so much mileage in a story like that, as most magazines want an exclusive (for instance, I did an interview for the Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine just after I spoke to Galpin, but when FHM published their feature, the Mail scrapped theirs).  FHM robbed me of this vital promotional tool by promising what me I wanted and then unilaterally re-negotiating the deal behind my back. They betrayed my trust, and now they act as if this is par for the course and perfectly acceptable.  Remember this if you ever have dealings with them.
                                                                               - Michael Shenton

Cartoon: Witch on broomstick

-------------------------------------- Stop Press -----------------------------------------

Drawing: Kevin Hand 

Kevin Hand (left), who as chief executive of Emap Plc snubbed my fight for justice against FHM, has now resigned following a drastic downturn in Emap’s fortunes.  Moral: Never thumb your nose at a man who knows witches!
Anthony Noguera, the FHM editor who refused to answer any of my letters, has been replaced.  He now edits the lesser known magazine Arena whose circulation is one twentieth that of FHM’s.  Between July 2000 and June 2001, FHM’s circulation fell by over 16,000 copies a month.  Cheats never prosper!

News Flash (22.4.02).  I’ve just received the following message from Emily Scott, who I believe is FHM’s resident wit and poet laureate (this is a copy-and-paste direct from the email):

  “FHM takes the piss out of your sad crap webshite in June 2002 page 163 in the right hand bottom corner. Get over it your car picture are shit any way.” -

Tell me something, Emily: If someone paid you with a cheque which subsequently bounced, would you just shrug and do nothing?  I doubt it.  Certainly that is not my way.  These people ripped me off and they are not going to get away with it.  They charge over £18,000 for every page of advertising.  They can well afford to pay for copyright material in the normal way.

Here’s a message I received from someone who doesn’t think it’s okay to cheat people to get what you want:  ‘It’s a shame that certain sectors of the magazine publishing industry operate in this way.’  - Mark Newman, Editor, Practical Internet.  Mr Newman isn’t the only one who takes this view.  Writers’ News, for example, after hearing of the FHM swindle, expressed surprise that an Emap magazine should behave in this shabby way.  Send them a bill, they said.

Late News: Having now read the FHM item in question, I must say I’m disappointed.  Brilliant satire it ain’t.  The humour, if that’s what it’s meant to be, comes in the form of the phrase ‘bless him’ at the end of a rather bald piece.  I feel as if I’ve been set upon by a not very bright hooligan: he poked his eye into my finger, slammed his ribs into my boot, and before I knew what had happened, he was lying in the gutter with a smug grin.
    No wonder they felt the need to offer
a free packet of Pork Scratchings with this issue!

Cartoon: Witch on broomstick
Cartoon: Witch on broomstick

FHM Readers Click Here - Huge Tits! 

Update 2004.  Lee Coan, a staff writer at FHM, contacted me early this year regarding a feature the magazine was doing about people they’d upset.  He asked me if I had put a curse on FHM’s air conditioning as it had been playing up recently.  I told him I hadn’t but I couldn’t speak for my witch friends.  Now here’s the amusing thing: FHM has lost almost half its readers since it cheated me and derailed my writing career, and yet Lee Coan thought I might merely have arranged to have the air conditioning cursed.
     Lee, you really don’t know what it’s all about.
     Not surprisingly, this being FHM, Mr Coan passed up the chance to put matters right, despite making promises.  He did mention the novel, but he omitted all the usual details (price, publisher, etc), thus making it seem as if it was no longer available, and he put the wrong URL for my website so no one would get clued in there.  In fact he generally contrived to ensure that I would derive no benefit at all from the piece.  Curses!

The Novel Cover

Stiff Competition by Michael Shenton, the novel FHM doesn’t want anyone to know about (perhaps because parts of it are a little too close to home - one of the characters is a graduate of the Sod-You School of Journalism!), is available through bookshops or direct  from the publishers.
Late News: Novel currenly out of print.

Can you find the pirates’ missing honour? 

My encounter with the jolly lads at FHM inspired the treasure hunt in the next section.  What, I wonder, could have happened to FHM’s honour, sense of fair play, etc?  Perhaps they buried them when they started the magazine because they knew they’d have no further use for them. This is exactly what the Twist Island pirates have done, and you can examine their map and clues by clicking on the link below).

Cartoon: Pirates in sinking boat. 

You are currently on the Treasure Hunt page, part of the Prizemagic website.

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© Michael Shenton 2004



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