Monday, January 21, 2008

Ron Hunt: telling it straight

I was sad to hear of the death of Ron Hunt, the editor who defied the NUJ for six months by bringing out Kettering's Evening Telegraph on his own in the bad old days of the late seventies.

I spent a little under a year there as a district reporter, a short while after the braziers had cooled - and after the mutton-chopped one had kindly let me choose my patch.

It was a toss up between Corby, a town reborn on the back of a thriving steelworks, a union hotbed and rampaging Scots who'd followed the work south, or Rushden, a dead-on-its-feet old boot-and-shoe town where "bugger all happens outside the Lions Club AGM".

I chose the Cobblers over the Gorbals because I reckoned its sleepiness was a front for the sort of salacious exclusives I'd been flogging to the red tops on my last paper. I came away with my six-quid-a-week better contract thinking Ron must be dead chuffed to have snared such a high-flyer and wondering how long he could hang on to him before Larry Lamb or Derek Jameson finally snapped him up.

A few weeks later, my old boss rang to see how I was getting on. I left out the bits about the pensioners' bring-and-buy and the guest speaker at the Probus Club and gushed on about the mole I was cultivating deep inside Thrapston Councl.

He said Ron would be delighted. He'd rung him for a reference, said he thought I was a cocky little t**t but would have to do because the strike had put a lot of good people off and he was desperate.

I did get a few exclusives, even though my other mole at Irthlingborogh Women Against Nuclear Proliferation never delivered and did get snapped up after eight months ... by the rival freesheet.

Hey-ho, onwards and downwards ...

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