Saturday, 30 June 2007

Don't Ask Deidre...Ask Bill!

Life as a provincial journalist isn't all exciting interviews, scoops and front page headlines, as my acquaintance Ian Green will no doubt attest. The pressures of reduced staffing often mean that even a seasoned hack is called upon to undertake duties that might otherwise seem beneath them.

That's how I found myself pulled, at the last moment, to cover for the Birkenhead Beagle's resident agony aunt, Deidre Moffat. For over thirty years, Deidre was a mainstay of the Beagle, always ready to offer advice and 'a shoulder to cry on' to the teenage mothers of Bidston, the recovering alcoholics of Prenton and the confused homosexual bank managers of Oxton.

When, after a particularly heavy night on the Guinness, she failed to show up at the office, the then Editor, Benny Anderton, asked me to 'ghost' her column, I can't pretend I was entirely delighted. When he reminded me that I hadn't turned in my Court Report that week, however, I was shamed into stepping into Deidre's (famously size 8) shoes.

Never again. As I leafed through the pathetic pile of correspondence that had arrived in the woman's in-tray that week, I said a silent prayer of thanks to the Almighty that I had hitherto been spared such insights into the emotional traumas of the Wirral's residents.

As a professional, I nevertheless tried to muster a little enthusiasm for the task in hand, but there are only so many times you can write 'Pull yourself together, woman!' and 'Get a life, you sad individual!' before your concentration wanes.

It's a brave man who accuses Bill Blunt of a lack of empathy. I'll stand shoulder to shoulder with the unrequited lover, the man who has just discovered his wife in bed with his sister, the dipsomaniac who has lost his job as a forklift truck driver after one too many mornings on the Woodpecker. But not when they're the same person.

At least Benny Anderton never asked me to cover for Deidre again, and I'd wager that the management at the Beagle felt the £3,000 they subsequently spent on residential treatment for the Wirral's favourite agony aunt was possibly the best investment they ever made.





3 comments:

the domestic minx said...

Oh Bill - Blunt by Name, Blunt by Nature...
Please continue to tell it like it is!!
That's why we love you so!
Those people who might call you callous and heartless are simply jealous of your bold thrust.

xxx

Bill Blunt said...

Yes, I've had to deal with the petty jealousies of many during my distinguished career in the newspaper trade. Still, revenge is a dish best served cold, and they will feel my thrust in the weeks and months to come, you can be sure!

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