Wednesday, 13 July 2011


  I don’t think I can write my first blog without some mention of the way it really was in times gone by before the electronic age when to “hack” was to give someone the chop with an axe !  I remember as a raw-faced cub reporter being urged by my seniors never to take a bribe to keep a story OUT of the paper on the pain of the sack. With princely pay of £3.10s  on a Cheshire weekly I guess I could have been “bought” but the temptation was never there.
  Trading the secrets of Mrs Sparrow’s award winning apple pie with  a rival village WI  would hardly have got me a story in pre-Calendar girl days of who was having-it-off with whom. Even if a tip-off about a housewife and a randy vicar might have brought me riches from one of the more salacious national Sundays.
  Given the gift of a good news sense, I must confess to making a few bob in a lifetime as a newshound.  Not from hacking into computers and telephones or handing out large sums to bent coppers, but just good old fashioned journalism.
  Contacts have always been the lifeblood of the trade of newsgathering. So it was that every Tuesday I would mount the office bike in Wilmslow and cycle round my patch, stopping to chat in half a dozen outlying villages to my “regulars,” picking up handwritten reports from shops and post offices and – yes – even dropping in for a bite and  a (lemonade!) at one of the local pubs.
  Most of what I picked up to put in the paper was parish pump stuff by present standards. But just occasionally a real story happened and made a front page splash. Like the time I discovered a village school had been secretly closed by the authorities in the hope of covering up a mystery illness sweeping through the classrooms
 And before the discovery of Lindow man a tip off from a contact told me a skeleton had been found in a peat bog and was probably an ancient murder. Just in time to stop the press for that week’s paper.  The next edition told readers they were animal bones. But, hey, why let facts get in the way of a good story!
 Now all those weekly yarns seem light years away from tales in the late News of the World about alleged oversexed bed-hopping celebrities, Royals and mega-rich footballers, and yet I guess most  stories did  not the result from hacking into computers and mobile phones. Just large sums exchanged with contacts for information into their private lives which I guess most like to read, and speaking personally now as a freelance, who am I to cast the first stone…so long as the stories are true.
 Now did you know about the affair between…..?

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