Groundhog Day in Holywell

Each day Delwyn and I turned up at the office and each day Bill set us tasks which were basically typing up copy in a presentable format.

Newly-fledged copy typists could have done the job straight out of secretarial college and they would probably have been paid at the same rate.

Then one morning, when I was down in the kitchen making coffee, the receptionist came through and said a young lady was at the front desk asking to speak to me.

I went through to the reception area, basically a landing in between Bill’s office and the advertising/administrative office, and was surprised to see one of my former college classmates, Dilys.

I was delighted to see her and asked if she had just popped in on the offchance I would be there or had made a special trip to see me.

“I’ve got a story for you,” she said. “I thought you might be interested. I’ve just been to London to receive my Duke of Edinburgh Award.”

I kept an interested look on my face, after all Dilys and I had been quite close at college in a platonic way, and I didn’t want to insult her.

“That sounds great, I’ll tell you what, let me just take this coffee up to my colleague and grab my notebook and pencil and we could pop out for a coffee and talk about it.”

I told Delwyn I was just nipping out to get a story. He barely looked up as I put his coffee down and just kept on tapping away at a sports report he was writing.

I took Dilys to a little cafe on the High Street and bought two coffees.

Once we were seated I asked her how she was doing and discovered she was still looking for a job.

It then turned out there was more to it than “Holywell girl gets Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award”.

Dilys had written to the DoE award office before the presentation asking if she could have her certificate in Welsh but heard nothing before going down to London.

I knew that she was very proud of being Welsh and was bilingual. I also knew that it was national pride as opposed to nationalist pride.

When she attended the award ceremony she had been taken to one side and told her letter had arrived too late to be dealt with before the ceremony. It had, however, been decided that a certificate would be drawn up in Welsh and would be personally signed by the Duke and sent on to her within a couple of weeks.

By now even I had realised this was a good story – a year later I would have realised that it was a story worth selling to various big newspapers as well but I didn’t know about that extra source of income at the time.

As it was I took down the details Dilys had given me and made a note of a couple of comments she had made about being “honoured” and “proud”. I also made a note of her address and telephone number in case Bill wanted a photograph (I had learned by now that all pictures for our area were taken on the same day, a Wednesday, when a photographer came over from Chester for about three hours).

We finished our coffee and I thanked Dilys for the story before saying goodbye and going back to the office.

I told Delwyn what had happened and then got back to whatever routine tasks Bill had arranged for that day.

I probably rewrote the Dilys story three or four times and I still wasn’t really happy with it.

I set it aside when I headed off for lunch with Roger at the pub. It had become a regular occurrence depending on which shift he was on. It was turning into the high point of each day.

When I returned I rewrote the story yet again and when Bill came back I didn’t wait to hear him start typing but went straight down to show him the story I had written.

He glanced over it and nodded approval and asked if I had a contact number for her as it was worth a picture.

“Is she pretty?” he asked.

“Well, yes. I think so.”

“Good, the photographer does take a better shot if he likes the subject.”

“Did you say you took her out for coffee?”


“Well you’d better claim that back on expenses. In fact you can go out tomorrow and call on the local God squad to find out if they have anything for us.

“You’ll need to go on your scooter or you’ll be out all day, and you can claim that as mileage. I’ll explain it to you on Friday.”

That was it. I went back upstairs and got on with my work.

We had, by now, reached a stage where we took it in turns to take the copy down at the end of the day and it happened that day it was my turn.

When I took the copy down Bill looked up from his typewriter and said: “Good job today. You’d better take this and start building up your contacts.”

He took a small notebook out of his desk drawer, smaller than the reporter’s spiral-bound notebooks we used, and tossed it over to me.

When I opened it I realised it was an address book with the letters shown down the side.

That was my first little black book and it was to become invaluable over the next few years.

The first name I entered in it was Dilys.

That day was to become a memorable one over the next few months – mainly because it was different.

Delwyn didn’t seem to have any local contacts.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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