I arrived home in time for lunch on the day I was told I had failed my probationary period as a trainee reporter.
Yet I was not feeling downcast because Bill O’Brien, the chief reporter at the Holywell office where I had been a probationer, had told me there was someone interested in my desire to become a reporter.
He rang at about 3.30 and introduced himself as Peter Leaney, editor of the Flintshire Leader, based at Mold.
“I understand you are keen to become a reporter but the Chronicle decided not to keep you on after your probationary period.”
“Yes Mr Leaney,” I said.
“Oh none of that ‘Mr’, Robin, just call me Peter. Now tell me how much have you done while working with Bill. Have you covered court cases or council meetings?”
“No. Most of the time we were in the office, typing up wedding and funeral reports, making parish calls and following through a couple of smaller stories I got through a friend.
“We didn’t get to do any court reporting or council meetings. Not that I don’t know what’s been going on at the courts and the council. I checked the reports in our paper, I mean the Herald, and yours.
“Basically they were the same, just different reporters pick up on different aspects.”
“You appear to have made use of your time in Holywell. Do you have many contacts there?”
“Not really. There are a couple of people I know from college, and the vicar, the priest and ministers. Bill made most of the contacts and did most of the reporting.”
“You appear to have made a good start. Do you have your own transport?”
“Yes, an old Morris Minor. Generally reliable. After all there’s not much can go wrong with it.”
“Are you still intent on being a journalist?”
“OK. Meet me on Monday morning, 9am. It’s in Temple Gardens off the High Street.”
He told me the best place to park and gave me the address in Temple Gardens.
“See you then,” and he rang off.
I had already told my parents that my probation period was not being taken any further. Now I had to tell them I might still have job.
That night I was down at the yacht club and my friend Roger and I hogged the dart board for the night.
I told him what had happened and he said: “Sounds like you’ve landed on your feet.”
On Monday morning I got to Holywell before 9. I parked and checked the address he had given me. Temple Gardens consisted mainly of shops with an upper floor.
Bang on 9 I went to the right door and went in.
The place had a fresh feel about it; the smell of new carpet; that whiff of new paint.
The young lady at the desk with a sign saying RECEPTIONIST said: “You must be Robin. Peter and Gareth are upstairs.”
I went up and there was a man sitting behind the single desk and another man looking out of the window.
Before I could say a word the man at the window, a smartly-dressed man with thinning dark hair and a slightly swarthy appearance, turned round.
“Hello Robin, I’m Peter Leaney and this is my deputy, Gareth Williams.”
The man behind the desk, shorter and squatter than Peter, got up and came round to shake my hand. As I turned round to acknowledge him Peter suggested I sat down and then he took another chair for himself and Gareth went downstairs.
“As you can see, we’ve just opened this office to give us a base here. We want you to be our presence on the news front.
“You will be working alone here but I want you to come over to the Mold office on Wednesdays and we will give you the appropriate training. You’ll be paid the accepted rate for a junior reporter and will be required to sign indentures. You will also need your father to sign it and a witness to hoth signatures.”
“You mean I’ll be working from here alone except for when I go over to the Mold office?”
“Yes. Gareth lives just outside town and he’ll call in each morning at about 8am to collect any copy and bring it to me at Mold. If there’s a problem you can phone me at Mold. Do you want the job?”
I had never really had a proper job interview and I was young enough not to worry about letting my feelings show.
“Oh, yes please. When do I start?”
“How about now? I don’t expect you to do much more today but get yourself settled in and see if you can make contacts.
“Gareth will call in tomorrow morning but we don’t expect any copy that quick. Welcome to the company.”
That was it.
I was not just a junior reporter – I was a district reporter with my own office.
One thought on “Out of work for a weekend”
My colleague John Shone has pointed out that Peter Leaney’s deputy editor at the time was Graham Williams NOT Gareth. Thanks for that John. Memory does get fuzzy over the years.