Talking Point

Ron Harris'Picture by Lindsay Addison
Ron Harris'Picture by Lindsay Addison

Fangs for the memories, m’lud

FRAE next week this column might weel be appearing in the Barlinne Newsletter rather than the Gazzy - IF Lord Leveson’s report decides tae really get tore intae the press wae both tackity boots.

Now, just in case you’ve been living in a cave ootside Wanlockheid for the past two years, the score is that there’s wan inquiry intae why the News o’ the World pried intae the private lives o’ weel-kent personalities while there was another intae why the BBC DIDNAE pry intae the private life o’ a weel-kent personality.

The Beeb then tried tae make up for it by prying intae the private life o’ anither weel-kent personality who turned oot tae be the totally wrang weel-kent personality a’togither.

Onyway, if M’lud Leveson’s aim is tae `clean up’ the press, weel, auld hacks like me could tell him he’s twenty years too late embarking oan yon task.

Y’see, newspapers today are a helluva lot mair civilised than when ah started way back in the days when the phrase Jim’ll Fix It didnae have sinister overtones.

Even then, as a cub reporter, ah was telt tales o’ the Guid Auld Days by older colleagues o’ the Fifties and Sixties when even the law o’ the jungle didnae haud sway in a newsroom.

Since then, of course, the tyranny o’ technology has taken oot a’ the fun and nonsense frae the job, including the wance professional requirement for reporters tae be bevvied a’ day, every day.

Y’see, working a typewriter while oan the ootside o’ a hauf bottle o’ Famous Grouse was okay but tae write even this wee piece for you today ah’ve had tae press mair buttons than Houston Mission Control did tae launch Apollo 11 tae the moon.

In other words, you have tae keep your wits aboot you these days,

Still, at least ah can bask in hazy memories o’ when this was not so.

Yon reveries always take mah mind back tae the deeds o’ the legendary Gorgeous George o’ Glescae, the sole representative in the city o’ wan o’ the wance great national newspaper titles.

He coped wae this pressure by socialising freely when aff-duty and was aboot tae set oot wan evening oan another liver-destroying expedition when his editor phoned and asked him tae cover an international fitba’ match that night at Hampden.

“But ah’m already in mah costume for the fancy dress party ah’m going tae!” wailed George, only tae be telt that the Jobcentre beckoned should he demur further.

Oor George decided that, tae save time, he’d just go tae the match in his get-up so he could go straight tae the hooley after the game.

Ah saw the aftermath o’ this the next day when going for a spine-stiffener in a pub at Anderston before mah shift oan a certain Sunday newspaper.

There a famed bevvy-merchant frae that paper’s sportsdesk was sitting staring intae space, ashen-faced and wae an orange juice in front o’ him.

“What’s up, Joe?” asks I, unsettled by this unfamiliar sight,”Are you coming aff the drink?”

“Ah’ve GOT tae, Ron,” he shakily replied, ”Last night ah went intae the press box at Hampden Park and ah thought ah saw Count Dracula sitting there...”