Author Topic: The Front Page  (Read 1826 times)

Offline Brummie

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 10
The Front Page
« on: September 18, 2009, 06:31:16 AM »
                                                     The Front Page


     I have been a publican for over 30 years and some of the memories connected with the job do not come stranger than one night with four of my regulars at the Rose and Crown.

     I and four regular drinker at my public house were chatting about the various occupations they had over the years. Steeplejack, Blacksmith, Rent Collector and the like. Suddenly a voice was heard from a dark corner of the snug.
     "Could help overhearing but if you thought you boys had odd occupations then I think I could beat those".
     I looked at the little man with interest as he got up from his seat in the corner of the snug. He walked to the bar. I listened as I polished the glasses ready for re-use. He was shabbily dressed ,grey hair and cleaned shaven at about five feet eight in height.
     "I get people's names in the papers. The queer thing is the way people love to see their names in print. They'd do anything for it and if they can get their photos they're as happy as fleas on a terrier".
     "It all started by accident about thirty years ago when I was lodging in Birmingham. I was out of a job at the time. I hadn't paid my rent and my landlady was giving my some nasty looks. One day she said she'd give anything to get her name in the paper"
     "Anything?". I said.
     "Well..nearly anything".She replied.
     "So I puts on my thinking cap".

     I finished polishing the drinking glasses and leant on the bar counter to listen further to the story.
     "Anyway, I soon gets a good idea and a discuss it with the landlady and we get to work. The following Sunday I went to my room to have a nap as usual and while having a quiet smoke in bed I drop off to sleep and accidentally set the bed on fire. The alarm was raised and at once the street was full of people. As the fire brigade arrived the landlady entered my room, picked me up and carried me out onto the street. I was always a little chap"
     "Well, that did the trick. Her picture was in the paper for sure. The headline read;
                       "HEROIC LANDLADY SAVES LODGER FROM BURNING ROOM"     
     "Of course, we had put old bed clothes on the bed and nothing was damaged that mattered and I was standing near to the door. She only had to carry down one flight of stairs and into the street. That woman was so pleased that she let me off what she owed me and even gave me a fiver besides".
     The little man ordered another drink and offered to my other regulars and i began pouring the drinks.
     
     "It seemed to me that there might be some sort of a career in this business so I decided to try my luck as a publicity man, if you see what i mean. My next client was a retired butcher and his name was Charles Stuart. Well, within a week every newspaper in the country and a few overseas had the story of the butcher who was a direct decendant of King Charles the Second"
      "It was quite a good story. There were a few hundred people willing to back his claim to the throne. My client was so satisfied that he paid me very handsomely for my services".
        "Do you remember Trixie Delane, the revue star?. She married into the peerage and was also very famous for walking down Piccadilly with an alligator on a gold chain. Well, that was one of my ideas"
         
      "Interesting type of life you must have had" I remarked.
      "Interesting yes, and I've made a lot of money. But i've always been behind the scenes, so to speak. I've put thousands of people in the news. I started this life thirty years ago and yet few people know of my existence".
      "Are you still in business?". I asked.
      "Well in a way I am. But I made my biggest mistake six months ago. The biggest mistake of my whole career. You see I got married"
      "Oh but surely....". Began one of my regulars.

      "Believe me it was a mistake. Its always a mistake for a man of fifty three to marry a girl of twenty two. She only married me for my money, of course. I knew that but I didn't really mind. I loved her but it was asking too much to expect her to love an old codger like me. Still I thought we might be able to tolerate each other and be happy. So I gave up my business and settled down. We bought a lovely little cottage on the outskirts of Solihull".
      The little man took another sip from his drink.
      "It was a failure from the start. She didn't like living in the country ,she nagged me unceasingly, and before long I found out that she had been unfaithful to me".
      "I suppose I can't blame her really. I hadn't much to offer her and I suppose i'm a bit dull and poor company for a young girl. Then she started to nag me about getting her picture in the paper. She said i'd got thousands of other people in the paper. The least I could do was to get a little publicity for my own wife"
      "We agrued about it for a while but at last I gave in to her wishes. Its queer about the mania people have for wanting to see their names in the paper".

      Suddenly we were interupted bythe paper boy with the evening paper. The little man looked at his watch then hastily finished his drink. "Its later than i thought. I must be getting along. I'll finish my story some other time. Good night, gentlemen". 

      We wished him good night and as I looked out of the wondow I saw him climb into a lttle car which looked a shabby as himself. I returned to my place behind the bar to wash and polish his glass up. One of my regulars asked. "Can I have a look at your paper?".

    I nodded. He unfolded the paper. There on the front page was a picture of a young and pretty girl and underneath was the following paragraph;

         "The body of Mrs Freda Martin was found by a tradesman at her cottage in Knowle near
         Solihull. She appeared to be the victim of a brutal attack having recieved many blows to
         the head and body. The injuries were reported to have been caused by a meat axe. Mrs
         Martin was aged 22. The police are anxious to interview her husband Albert Martin ,who
         left home early this morning. He is described as fifty three years old, shabbily dressed,
         clean shaven about five feet eight in height with grey hair".

    The regular drinker passed the paper to me.   
    "His wife got her name in the paper alright....on the front page".

Offline Gyppo

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 72244
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
Re: The Front Page
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2009, 06:44:57 AM »
I liked it ;-)  Deftly told, with enough happening to hold a reader's interest.  A few little typos and punctuation errors in there, but nothing a good proof read couldn't fix.

In my opinion you could lose the last two lines though, because there's enough small clues given previously.  Trust your readers.  You don't need to spell it out.

Gyppo
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline eric

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10576
Re: The Front Page
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2009, 11:51:03 AM »
Well, I like it a very good deal myself.  Enjoyable and readable, deftly told, good characters.  

I have to demur slightly to Gyppo's point about the last two lines.  I think they serve a purpose other than telling -- a nice sort of wrap-up. So I might make an exception to my usual anti-telling rule, and suggest you leave them.  The balance seems important here.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2009, 11:59:07 AM by eric »

Offline Gyppo

  • Esteemed Contributor
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 72244
  • I've been writing ever since I realised I could.
Re: The Front Page
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2009, 12:07:37 PM »
I think we can cheerfully agree to differ here, Eric.  Either way is good.

Gyppo 
My website is currently having a holiday, but will return like the $6,000,000 man.  Bigger, stronger, etc.

In the meantime, why not take pity on a starving author and visit my book sales page at http://stores.lulu.com/gyppo1

Offline Lew Charles

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 378
  • Never mistake motion for action
Re: The Front Page
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2009, 11:30:10 AM »
I wasn't sure about the set-up, overhearing a conversation at the bar, and I almost gave up... but I couldn't. It had me. I enjoyed it. Agree with Eric about the last two lines.
'The best things in life are free.'

Offline eric

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 10576
Re: The Front Page
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2009, 10:28:32 AM »
I do think either Gyppo's approach or mine would work.  His is more subtle and technically accurate, I think.  In either case, a nice little story and a good job.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2009, 07:38:11 PM by eric »

Offline Lew Charles

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 378
  • Never mistake motion for action
Re: The Front Page
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2009, 08:06:50 AM »
I agree. The last line isn't technically needed, and initially I was thinking along the same lines as Gyppo. But I thought about it and it does wrap it up nicely.
'The best things in life are free.'

Offline DIZI

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1962
    • My Blog.
Re: The Front Page
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2009, 06:17:13 PM »
Very Roald Dahl...Tales of the Unexpected.  I LIKE IT
I used to go to the Crown when I was a punk. About 30 years ago now...I was very young.  :)
« Last Edit: October 07, 2009, 06:18:57 PM by DIZI »