what comes around goes around, so they say, and this journalist is coming around again. I’m the “new” reporter at The Clitheroe Advertiser and Times, bravely attempting to fill the space temporarily left by the lovely Faiza Afzaal, who has left to become a mum, bless her.
The bald head, wrinkles and near-white beard betray the fact that I’m no spring chicken.
I’ve practised the black art of newspapering for some four decades, and coming to The Clitheroe Advertiser is somewhat like stepping back in time to a gentler era, an era when old ladies on bicycles sipped warm beer on the village green and the sound of willow on leather echoed from red telephone boxes. Or are my recollections as dim as John Major’s?
The front office in King Street may look abandoned and sad, but upstairs the reporters’ office is a bit like reporters’ offices used to be, with piles of filed newspapers and walls peppered with curly yellowed memos. Take away the computer terminals and replace them with Imperials, Olivettis and Underwoods and the image would be complete. I’m actually walking in some hallowed footsteps here.
The late Leigh Morrissey and Tim Procter, both stalwarts of the Advertiser (now that’s a local newspaper word... stalwarts) were seniors at the Nelson Leader when young Beardsworth escaped from the insurance industry to become a local newshound. Clitheroe GS old boy Roger Siddall was my exemplary first chief sub-editor. Glen Pate, whose kindly advice helped steer me towards journalism, still contributes articles to the paper.
There’s Vivien Meath, whom I still fondly remember as “Minnie” – because she’s small, like a Mini – now happily retired after a conscientious spell as editor. I could go on... and apparently I am doing.
While we’re on Memory Lane, watching the legendary Mike Oldfield reprising his “Tubular Bells” at the Olympic opening ceremony got me thinking; remember when he played at Clitheroe Castle bandstand? I’m pretty sure it was Olfdield who, as a teenage multi-instrumentalist, was playing with Kevin Ayers’ Whole World on a balmy evening while long-haired music fans lolled around on the lawns and exotic-smelling smoke filled the air.
I’d had nothing stronger than a pint or three at nearby pubs, and wasn’t on Cloud 9 but in real damp mist as we trekked home over The Nick to Padiham.
While we’re at it, does anyone else remember those folk nights at The Dog and Partridge? They had some pretty big names such as Magna Carta and Decameron – well, they were big among folkies. Resident band Nevis weren’t bad, either.
After all these years the brain cells are still working, even if the knees are creaking. And I guarantee I won’t put apostrophes in the wrong place or write about “ex-patriots” when I mean expatriates.
So hello again, Clitheroe. Nice to be here. Got any news? Give me a shout.
By Eric Beardsworth