I GUESS anyone who watches Talking Pictures TV loves to immerse themself in a sea of nostalgia.
Especially me. I love the old sights, sadly gone, of London, the British countryside, other cities and towns. The clothes, the shops, the cars…everything.
But watching Going For A Bundle – Evening News the other day was total joy for a different reason.
I caught the last half of it, a fly on the wall look at newspapers in the mid-1970s. The glory age of typewriters, rulers, pencils, hot metal and teamwork from advertising through to circulation, the van drivers to the newsagents.
The joyful days that I saw the tail end of as a young work experience boy at the Coventry Citizen before joining the Coventry Evening Telegraph in the days when it sold big.
When the pile of papers arriving in the local newsagent would still be warm from the printing press. When newsrooms were noisy, vibrant places of work, with cigarette smoke and the odd old hack still spiriting away a bottle of something in his desk.
When there was real skill in sizing up photographs, rewriting typewritten copy and avoiding the very real dangers of ‘the spike’ on every desk. Before computerisation spoiled it all and cuts for profits turned newsrooms into dull, library-esque boxes.
I am sure the current crop of journos doing their best on Britain’s titles, in print or online, will always cringe at talk of the golden age. But I wish they could see Going For A Bundle. It ought to be compulsory viewing for any students at journalism college.
I’m sure it is only the trick of nostalgia, but there seemed to be more characters back then. Odd, worrying, the centre of attention, easy to get on with, difficult, but all knowing their role inside out.
The days before press offices took over control of our news coming from councils or police, government or sports. When a reporter could talk happily on the record to a bobby on the beat, lowly council officer who knew his/her stuff inside out and had captains of industry willing to discuss the most difficult issues.
Before the cry of fake news for anything people disagreed with.
A very different age. When free holidays to exotic places were offered in exchange for a few lines, when provincial motoring correspondents were allowed to test drive the latest top secret model and not just those coming off the production lines at Coventry’s big car firms.
I remember my first experience of watching a film preview at Coventry’s Odeon Cinema in the 1980s. An afternoon screening of something, where I was the only person in a 500 seat auditorium. There were enough sandwiches, cakes, biscuits and nibbles for a Buck House garden party and the alcohol? Well, there always seemed to be enough to sink the Titanic.
I was glad of the opportunity to go again, despite wandering back to the CET offices hopelessly drunk.
Even then, as long as you could do your job, the booze was part of the myth. We all went across to the Town Wall Tavern for a few beers at lunchtime, or sometimes the Stag, Rising Sun or other watering hole. The social club bar would be open at lunchtime, too, for those who didn’t want to venture far, if it was pouring down with rain, for example.
In the days when the pubs didn’t open again until 5.30pm, the door to the House of Commons at the TWT would be left open and there would be a troop of scribes from Corporation Street slipping quietly through to top up the lunchtime levels.
If it all seems a bit Laurel and Hardy, the quality of writing, photography, subbing and news values were second to none.
Going For A Bundle? I hope Talking Pictures TV screen it again. The blurb suggested the programme, filmed by Southern, had been lost for decades. It deserves to be headline news again in my book.