Lobby Lud

Lobby Lud

Lobby Lud was a fictional character invented in August 1927 by the Westminster Gazette, a British newspaper, now defunct. The name derives from the telegraphic address of the newspaper ("Lobby, Ludgate").

Anonymous employees of the newspaper would visit seaside resorts. The newspaper would print details of the town, a description of the appearance of that day's "Lobby Lud", and a particular pass phrase. Anyone carrying a copy of the newspaper could challenge "Lobby Lud" with the appropriate phrase, and receive the sum of money.

After the demise of the Gazette in 1928 the competition continued in the Daily News, which became the News Chronicle from 1930, in turn being absorbed into the Daily Mail in 1960.

Other newspapers such as the Daily Mirror ran similar schemes – "You are (name) and I claim my five pounds" – the most well-known challenge phrase, seems to date from a Daily Mail version which ran after the Second World War.

A special train service, the "Lobby Lud Express", was run to take Londoners to the resorts Lobby visited.

Holidaymakers were less likely to buy a newspaper, and since claimants for the prize had to have a copy of the newspaper, the newspaper proprietors hoped the prizes would increase circulation.

Another motive was to maintain circulation levels and keep people in the habit of buying the paper while they were on holiday. Some towns and large factories used to leave on "holiday fortnights" (called "wakes weeks" in the north of England); the town or works would all decamp at the same time. Circulation could drop considerably in the summer.

In 1983 an original "Lobby Lud" – William Chinn – was rediscovered aged ninety-one and living in Cardiff.

The Daily Mirror's "Chalkie White" continues to visit resorts, and the idea has been taken up by local radio stations and other media (often offering lesser prizes). Chalkie White is the name of Andy Capp's closest friend in a long-running Daily Mirror cartoon strip.

Lobby Lud in popular culture

  • Graham Greene's Brighton Rock (1938) uses a Lobby Lud character (called Kolley Kibber) as a plot device.
  • The device also appears in Agatha Christie's Poirot novel The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan (1924), as the main character, Hercule Poirot, is mistaken for the man in the newspaper contest, "Lucky Len", while he's on holiday at the seaside.
  • "You are X and I claim my five pounds" (commonly abbreviated to "YA X AICMFP", "YA X AICM£5", "AICM5GBP" or "AICM5UKP") is now commonly used in online discussion forums such as Usenet and B3ta. The phrase is often employed ironically to make a humorous comparison between the poster and another person, either a third person who frequents the same forum or a celebrity.
  • The phrase occasionally mutates thematically to "...my five euros", "dollars", etc. – and among science fiction fans "quatloos" (from Star Trek) is a popular substitution.
  • The phrase has occasionally been parodied by the satirical British magazine Private Eye. Most notably, the cover of issue 180 in November 1968 showed a photograph from the wedding of the former Jackie Kennedy in which the bride was apparently saying: "You are Aristotle Onassis and I claim my five million pounds"

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