WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

Finweek English Edition - - Piker -

BE­LIEVE IT OR NOT, jour­nal­ists are of­ten at a loss for words. If they can pro­duce a de­fin­i­tive “in­tro” – the first sen­tence or para­graph of a re­port – the rest flows eas­ily. But pro­duc­ing a bit­ing in­tro is of­ten scream­ingly dif­fi­cult and has of­ten driven even Piker to drink...

So Piker’s in­debted to jour­nal­ist (and now pub­lisher) Revel Barker for tack­ling this frus­trat­ing as­pect in a re­cent “blog” on Gentle­men Ran­ters, a ve­hi­cle pro­vided to crusty old hacks to rem­i­nisce about their bibu­lous glory days.

Barker writes: “I don’t re­mem­ber many of my own in­tros (I was rather pleased with de­scrib­ing a man ap­pointed keeper of the Queen’s pi­geons as ‘the last per­son who’d ob­ject to be­ing called bird-brained’). And I still cringe when I re­call re­port­ing a bak­ers’ syn­di­cate that scooped the jack­pot on Lit­tle­wood’s foot­ball pools as find­ing it­self ‘in the dough’. Per­haps the oth­ers weren’t es­pe­cially mem­o­rable; but I can re­call sev­eral other peo­ple’s.

“Stan Blenk­in­sop ( Daily Ex­press),

on a failed plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion: ‘ A city’s li­brary has been brought to book be­cause one of its storeys was too tall.’

“Lau­rie Tay­lor ( Daily Sketch), on a poor re­cep­tion for boxer Joe Louis at­tempt­ing a cabaret act: ‘The Brown Bomber took a box­of­fice nose­dive last night.’

“Alf Gib­bon ( Daily Mir­ror), de­scrib­ing a part-time in­ven­tor who found in­spi­ra­tion while work­ing in a sig­nal box as ‘the rail­way­man who had ideas above his sta­tion’…

“Even one by Mike Cable ( Daily Mail) that didn’t make it into print: ‘Blyth is a tiny sea­port on the north-east coast where even the seag­ulls are known by name.’

“Ev­ery in­tro Vince Mulchrone ( Daily Mail) wrote was a gem. I re­mem­ber this one: ‘I do be­lieve I’m about to write what may be the most beau­ti­ful sen­tence in the English lan­guage.’ About 12 para­graphs later the sen­tence – ‘the five hap­pi­est words I’ve writ­ten’ – was re­vealed as ‘The cus­tomers bought the pub’.”

“When Roy Greenslade picked up on Ran­ters’ in­tro pieces he de­scribed the Bi­ble – ‘In the be­gin­ning God cre­ated the heaven and the earth’– as be­ing dif­fi­cult to beat. But he re­called foot­ball writer Harry Har­ris ( Daily Mir­ror) open­ing with: ‘Here in Jerusalem, birthplace of the le­gendary Je­sus Christ...’

“Which prompted one of his read­ers to of­fer an­other Har­ris in­tro: ‘From my ho­tel room over­look­ing Mount Ever­est...’

“And an­other who re­mem­bered (for­mer Sun Kelvin McKenzie, writ­ing in the Daily Tele­graph: ‘On Sun­days, I do what most peo­ple do. I don’t buy the In­de­pen­dent on Sun­day’.”

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