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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Whiffenpoofs and Rankers

Welcome to this first issue of our blog. The title, as the literati among you will have quickly spotted, is a slight amendment of a lyric/poem by Rudyard Kipling, journalist and author and first English language writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
His poem was Gentlemen Rankers – one reason neither Jonathan Ross nor John Rossall made it onto the Editorial Board – which was brazenly stolen by Yale University to become the Whiffenpoof Song. Mr Kipling's exceedingly fine verse (about soldiers) had:
Gentlemen-rankers out on the spree,
Damned from here to Eternity,
God ha' mercy on such as we,
Baa! Yah! Bah!
Yale’s choir merely changed Rankers to Songsters, altered damned to doomed, cleaned up the grammar, and had three baas instead of only two plus a yah. Not, then, the sort of original work for which that institution claims fame.
Our contributors may not all rank very highly, but they certainly rant. Hence the name.
Freelance photographer PADDY BYRNE – a familiar name on the Boulevard of Broken Dreams (as the Street of Ink had not yet become) – popped along to the National Portrait Gallery to celebrate the Golden Years of Fleet Street which, as he says, is happening a bit late for most of us who were actually doing the gold-panning.
IAN SKIDMORE, successful (against his better judgment) freelance in Anglesey and Chester, prolific author (24 books published) and broadcaster, sometime Northern Night News Editor of the Daily Mirror, writes on the problems caused by having more columns than the Parthenon – including undergoing a sex change to write for the Manchester City News and becoming a streetwalker for the Sunday Pic. Elsewhere he writes about his short-lived experience as a Bevan Boy.
And we take a brief look at the little-known work of academic and poet KEITH PRESTON who wrote poems about columns while contributing seven of his own (columns) a week - two on Wednesdays - and editing the Books page with his other hand, on the Chicago Daily News.
Anybody who thought Beaverbrook and Maxwell were megalomaniacs will learn from former Daily Mail man PAUL BANNISTER what comparative pussycats they were in his description of newspaper life in the Sunshine State of Florida. And there’ll be more on this subject in later editions/additions of/to the Blog.
GEOFFREY MATHER, ex Daily Express columnist and features editor, says that “In Our Day” we had to make our own enjoyment – and reveals that one of the ways he did it was to invent well known old-fashioned Lancastrian customs for the local papers to remember.
Ex Mirror man REVEL BARKER looks at (but doesn’t buy) the newly published diaries of his former colleague Ally Campbell and also has a whinge about The Times Letters.
But none of this matters, in the end, because, as ALASDAIR BUCHAN reveals, nobody out there was taking a blind bit of notice about all our efforts, anyway.
However, we trust that our newly acquired readership is, er, reading, and hopefully enjoying these efforts. You can either scroll down the page to see everything, or use the Archive link on the left to find your own favourites.
Every article has a button on which anybody is entitled to click and add comments (which, please understand, may be “moderated” at this end). Comments will welcomed, as will offered contributions.
- The Editors.