The Shame of the News of the World

A scrunched-up corner of broadsheet poking out from beneath a grubby cushion on a sagging chair beside an acrid coal fire in a bleak living room in Clapham Junction.

A shriveled little man, shriveled physically, shriveled emotionally. Sour and bitter, mean and humourless. Take away the joy, generosity and warmth in this image of  Wilfrid Brambell playing Albert Steptoe, and then shrivel him up and made him chew a lemon, you would have an approximation of my grandfather. I never once heard him say anything even remotely pleasant to anybody.

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He read the NoTW furtively, grunting rhythmically, with his small darting eyes and a permanent soggy, thin cigarette stuck to his lower lip. If anybody came into the room, he frantically scrumpled the paper up and shoved it out of sight beneath the cushion, then set his skinny little backside down on top of it.

His obvious shame intrigued me. He had no such qualms about his daily read, The Sun. For the years I lived there during my school holidays, it was a weekly ambition to sneak a look at the NoTW, something only feasible if Grandad unexpectedly went out – which he seldom did – forgetting to burn the paper, which he always did on Sunday evenings.

And that is what I will always remember whenever the News of the World is mentioned. Not the shame of the phone-tapping of people already at their lowest ebb, nor the corrupting of police officers, nor the sacking of 200 people while the chief executive keeps her job, nor the loss of a British institution that survived for 168 years.

I shall see a vision of that small, miserable little man who was so unlike the benevolent Werther’s Original grandfather.

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9 thoughts on “The Shame of the News of the World

  1. There is still the People and The Sun and The Mirror, so your granddad would have had plenty to read – and hide. It is incredible that a paper can just fold like that. And all those journalists out of a job and who will probably now join the freelance world which is overloaded already.

    • I think the NoTW must have been considered very risque in those far-off days, Marilyn. He had no qualms about The Sun. But by golly, he didn’t want to be caught with the NoTW.

      Yes, what a horrible situation for the dumped journos. There are already so many trying to scrape a living. But that virago has held on to her place at the top of the heap. Mind you, deservedly so, because she didn’t know about the phone tapping – apparently she was on holiday at the time. Great job she was doing if she didn’t know what was happening. And she obviously hasn’t heard that “The Buck Stops Here.”

  2. My holier than everyone aunt used to have sheets of the NOTW on the floor after having it washed….as children we were entranced by all the goings on we didn’t understand which we read by crawling all over the wet sheets of newsprint and ‘making our excuses and leaving’ became a joke amongst us all.
    When questioned by my father about the presence of the NOTW in her holy household she said the cleaner must have brought it in…..but it was still in use long after father complained.

    Repression had a lot to answer for, making bad people worse…but then, so does the complete licence of today….

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