Wednesday, 4 April 2007

We were barking for them

Ever since I 'retired' from journalism, there has been a constant stream of visitors to the door of Blunt Mansions anxious to find the secret to the elixir of my writing style. At one point, my articles featured on the syllabus of a northern university which I do not need, here, to name.

When confronted with some nervous student, and asked the inevitable question 'Of what have you been most proud in your life, Mr Blunt?' I invariably replied that it was my time at the Birkenhead Beagle which gave me most pleasure.

Thomas Hamburger Jnr has featured the Beagle prominently in his griping new mystery story about the missing family of Laurel McFry, on which I have written earlier.

Few outside of Birkenhead may have heard of it, but the Beagle was renowned for its strapline 'We're barking for you!' Over the years, it boasted the writing talents not just of Thomas Hamburger and myself, but also of Johnny Mercer and Frederick C Marple - both men remembered for their acerbic pens.

The Birkenhead Beagle is probably best known for it's achievement, in October 2001, of managing to produce more editions in one day than any other UK national or regional daily paper. What herculean efforts were required to achieve such a record can only now be guessed at. From the first edition at 8am, through to the final at 4pm, the Beagle can truly be said to have left it's mark on the streets on that day.

My own paltry contribution to that momentous day was to pen a few brief words for each issue - and I was proud to do so.

Alas, neither Johnny Mercer nor Freddy Marple lived to see that day. This post is, therefore, dedicated to them, and to their contribution to journalism over many years. Wherever they are now, I am sure they have a ready audience for their acid tongues.

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