Studying at home while getting work experience with a recently-launched local newspaper was working well in the run-up to Christmas 1965.
Naturally I took a break from studying over what would have been a school holiday and spent a little bit longer at the Gazette offices while also having time to spend at the Little Theatre as panto time approached.
This led to me getting my first ever byline in a real newspaper while helping to publicise the theatre group which meant so much to me.
The editor asked me to write a feature about the pantomime, Mother Goose, which I turned into a potted history of panto and the Little Theatre.
The feature included a number of pictures of main characters and the chorus but it also showed the start of my feature-writing style which set a standard for me for decades to come.
Whether written about a drama group, or a school group ski-ing in Austria I would ensure there was some background, even historical at times.
In this case I brought in the history of pantomime, the history of the Little Theatre and even a reference to the local Conservative MP Nigel Birch in six paragraphs.
The rest of the article was mainly details of the main players and of the chorus members, local names for local people in a local paper.
For this I was granted my first ever byline at the age of 15. In the 60s and 70s bylines were rare occurences and not dished out like lollipops to well-behaved children at a party as they seem to be nowadays.
For a new newspaper the feature was worthwhile because it was the first time such a piece had appeared in the Gazette. For a long-running newspaper it would just have been dragging out the same old story as the previous year.
That first byline was very important to me. I achieved many more before I moved from reporting to production – and even a couple afterwards, but that’s another story.
I actually helped out backstage at the panto as well, but on the night the pages were being made up for an overnight print run I was allowed to stay on and lend a hand.
Luckily I wasn’t in the union at that time, not being a “proper reporter” or even old enough to join the NUJ (National Union of Journalists) because things I did to help out that night would have brought the unions out at most newspaper offices.
All that was still to come.
I was just happy to get a byline.
PS: Memories can be rusty especially when harking back over 50 years.
In the same scrapbook I found the picture of Monica Rose on the elephant. That was when I discovered we did not use the picture with Hughie Green. Hannibal the baby elephant was well-behaved without his touch.
3 thoughts on “Making my name”
Hi, this is a wonderful story. I am the eldest daughter of Lilian Diparno, I have never seen this photo of her before – sadly she passed away in 2006 at the age of 52, it would have been her 69th birthday today so to find this today has been so wonderful. Are there any other photos of her? Thank You Tracey.
Tracey, I am glad you found the picture of your mother Lilian. I do not have any others as this was from my scrapbook of newspaper cuttings. The Rhyl Little Theatre group has a facebook page which includes many people who would have known your mother. Just Google Rhyl Little Theatre and it should give you the page details.
There are many people who will remember your mother.
Hi. Thanks so much for coming back to me. I will do that and see how I get on. Many ThanksTracey