Journey into journalism

"No Fires In Tring" By Colin Heathcote
"No Fires In Tring" By Colin Heathcote

No Fires In Tring, a book about life on a weekly newspaper has been published.

Written by former Northumberland County Council press officer Colin Heathcote, of Warkworth, the book harks back to the 1960s when stories were hammered out on a typewriter and sent by bus to Hemel Hempstead where the copy was converted into lead type. Originally a Kindle download, it is now available as a paperback at Amazon.

Paul Barnes is a 21-year-old aspiring journalist who, after leaving school in Watford with a couple of O-levels, finally lands a job as a reporter with Hertfordshire Newspapers Ltd.

Paul is on cloud nine and fantasises about getting great scoops and winning journalistic prizes. He soon comes down to earth as life as a junior reporter on a weekly newspaper in a small town does not provide the type of exciting ‘hold the front page’ stories he had imagined.

But Paul buckles down to the tasks, be they re-writes of WI reports, attending council meetings, writing up weddings and obituaries, or typing out results of numerous gymkhanas, school fetes and flower shows.

Every now and then the monotony is broken by major stories, such as local witness accounts of a plane hijacking by the Popular Front For The Liberation Of Palestine and the invasion by Soviet forces of the then Czechoslovakia.

Colin said: “Whilst the obtaining of the newspaper stories has been embellished for comic effect, the recorded articles in the book are as appeared in the Berkhamsted Gazette. The characters featured are based on people who worked for the company, although their names have been changed.

“The book helps reflect life on a rural local weekly newspaper in the mid to late 1960s, a world which has long since disappeared.”