John's memories of golden years of journalism

Golden memories of the 1960s and a disappeared world of journalism are evoked in a new book by a former Midlands reporter.

In "Go and Make the Tea, Boy!" John Phillpott recalls days of workplace bullying, smoking, and hard drinking, but with a magical backdrop of unforgettable music which was to play such a key part in his teenage years.

Simply flashing his press pass gave this weekly newspaper reporter access to the big pop stars of the day which seems astonishing now.

"Back then the really big acts were still playing provincial dance halls. And with the incredibly easy access afforded to members of the press such as myself, I made sure that not a single night was wasted.

"It was perfectly possible to cover a boring old flower show on a Saturday afternoon and mingle with pop stars later that evening," says John.

So when Pink Floyd played at his home town, he simply flashed his press card and walked in on them to do an interview.

"That appalling cliche and much-used saying 'if you remember the 60s then you weren't there' is total hogwash," he says.

"Yes, there may have been instances which elude recall, but in the main I remember that period with crystal-clear clarity. The facts of the matter are that a year in the 1960s was worth three of any other decade, before or since."

John had joined the Rugby Advertiser at the age of only 16 in 1965 and after a while was to be given, in addition to his usual reporting duties, his own show page covering the musical revolution which was proving so bewildering to older journalists.

"By the spring of 1968 I was probably the best-known young person in Rugby.

"Yes, that does sound impossibly pompous and self-regarding, but the facts of the matter are that this was palpably true.

"I wrote an entire broadsheet page every week, packed with news and gossip, and my fame – although extending to no more than a 15-mile radius – started to generate prestigious invitations."

Since those years, of course, the newspaper scene has radically changed, but John argues: "The internet is no more than just another competitor, to be lived with or seen off if necessary as the older technology adapts."

After leaving Rugby, he went on to work as a reporter on the Lancashire Evening Post. This was followed by his appointment as chief sub for Heart of England Newspapers in Leamington. After a few years in that post, he moved to Worcester where he was, variously, chief sub editor of the Worcester Evening News, a columnist for 22 years, and letters editor.

Go and Make the Tea, Boy! is published by Brewin Books and costs £9.95.

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