Confessions of a Norfolk Newshound by Keith Skipper

By Keith Skipper

The sequel to Skipper's best-selling Confessions of a rustic Boy, it is a highly enjoyable account of his early occupation in journalism from 1961 to 1979.Journalism within the '60s and '70s was once nonetheless an international of epic lunch hours, carbon paper, scorching steel and whimsical bosses—and one among camaraderie, commitment and never-ending hours spent in pursuit of fine quarry and duplicate. Keith Skipper remembers these pre-computer days with sly humor and a pointy ear for wealthy discussion.

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Ironically, most of my subsequent visits to Reepham were in a police car. I covered cases regularly at the magistrates court, and prosecuting officer, Inspector John Kenny of Dereham Police, saw fit to give me a lift there and back. He quoted from Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard every time we passed Swanton Morley’s gravestones. I chipped CONFESSIONS OF A NORFOLK NEWSHOUND 35 in with the odd line from Troilus and Cressida. Our minds were really on higher things than driving without due care and attention or kicking up a racket at a local football match.

That story, of course, had a tail-piece. A school dinner lady celebrated a notable ‘mealstone’. Chimney sweep Dicky Dodman hung up his brushes after more than 50 years in the trade and headed into retirement via his large garden and glasshouse – ‘exchanging sooty hands for green fingers’. CONFESSIONS OF A NORFOLK NEWSHOUND 39 FOND FAREWELL – Bill Coller (centre) hands goodbye gifts to chief reporter Charles Sharp as he leaves the Dereham office to take up a post in Nigeria. Photographer Brian Smith, using the time-exposure technique, joins the throng to give a thumb-up sign, while Fakenham reporter Freddie Fletcher, seated on the left, ponders his stocks and shares.

You see, it should have been me up there on that silver screen with a galaxy of international stars. I I had rehearsed the Beeston smoulder hundreds of times. But the new boy on the block, all Gallic good looks, practised poise and big-city confidence, convinced the moguls he had what it took to bring a bit extra to a bid for a box-office bonanza. ROLE MODEL – a Holkham setting for Operation Crossbow filming in 1964 as Roderic Leigh rehearses his part as a German sailor. CONFESSIONS OF A NORFOLK NEWSHOUND 53 Roderic Leigh, my new colleague on the Dereham and district reporting rounds, went filming on Holkham Beach in Operation Crossbow, one of the main productions of 1964.

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