Changing places — changing faces

There was more in changing my place of work to Rhyl from Holywell than just being able to have a lie-in or go home for lunch.

Obviously I was working with new people and they were ones I could learn a lot from.

I was also meeting new people and old friends when it came to newsgathering.

Having grown up in Rhyl and living at the heart of the seaside town I also knew many people from local businesses and had old schoolfriends.

In fact some of the people I had been at school with were still there in the upper sixth. As were a couple of former girlfriends who were in the lower sixth.

One story I covered was the retirement presentation made to the deputy headmaster, Harold Davies. I accompanied the photographer, Glyn, to get the details and the names of those present.

I had known Harry Davies well during my time at the Grammar School, not just as a good chemistry teacher but also as the man who mainly dealt with misbehaving pupils.

If you were late for school you were sent to see the deputy head; if you were unruly in class or during break you were sent to see the deputy head; if you were caught smoking on school premises you were sent to see the deputy head.

I cannot count the number of times I stood outside Harry’s door, often with two or three other miscreants, waiting to be called in and dealt with.

Every time was the same.

Mr D: “What have you been up to?”

ME: “I’m sorry sir, I missed my alarm.”

or

ME: “I’m sorry sir I forgot to bring my history/maths/biology/RE homework this morning.”

or

ME: “I’m sorry sir, I didn’t realise I had lost my cap while cycling to school.”

Mr D: “Well, I’ll let you off this time but don’t do it again or I will have to deal with you seriously. Now off you go.”

I really liked Harry.

On this day he was presented with a gift by the headmaster, Mr Ron Davies, on behalf of the staff, and a rose bowl on behalf of the pupils by the head boy (a schoolfriend of mine who also sailed with the Rhyl Yacht Club) and the head girl (a former girlfriend who I had not treated very well when we split up).

Back at the office I suggested to Glyn that we should use the picture of the head boy and girl. Mainly because the focus was on Harry and the head boy and girl leaving Ron Davies off to one side.

A petty bit of revenge but I still enjoyed it.

Other friends had left school and were working locally. They included the Parker boys, Louis and Jimmy, who were both working for the family amusement business.

These people were all useful contacts and I would often pick up snippets which proved worthwhile.

My weekly rounds spread a bit further than they had in Holywell, which was really just a small market town in those days.

I would call at the police station and the fire station to get details of any weekend incidents; religious leaders for church news; undertakers to check on upcoming funerals; and the various senior schools.

I enjoyed going back to my old school and talking to my former headmaster on equal terms. More than this, however, was having a chat with my old sports master Berwyn “Bubs” Evans to get details of matches played by the school at county level or higher. He would also pass on details of the girls sports teams from Miss Pat Roberts.

It was just as well I stayed on friendly terms with Bubs because he used to get tickets for the Five Nations Rugby games (no Italy in those days) and quite often earmarked a ticket for me and got me a seat on the local rugby club coach down to Cardiff.

I covered other stories as well, of course, including magistrates and council meetings.

There was an abundance of councils holding meetings which needed coverage.

The county council was out of my league at that point. I did accompany a more senior reporter to meetings of the rural district council and Rhyl urban district council.

I was more often assigned the parish council meetings which normally began at 7.30pm and ended when the more senior councillors were ready to go home to their Horlicks and bed. I am sure we would have been there until midnight if the average age had been 45 instead of 65.

I learned a lot from Brian, Bill, Elwyn and Denise. Regarding the photographic side of newspapers Glyn taught me plenty, not just about setting up a shot but also the technical side of developing and printing.

The only reason I did not give Trixie Vorderman a mention in my learning curve was because I never really worked with her.

She was a friendly person but I didn’t really know how long she had been there or even if she was any more experienced than myself.

She left not long after I moved back to Rhyl. There were rumours about her running off to join the circus but I never really found out where she went.

Years later my path was to cross that of her younger sister Carol but that lies in the future.

Trixie was a bright, bubbly person and I’m sorry I did not get to know her better.

There were more transient colleagues over the years. The most fleeting lasted less than a day but, again, that is a tale still to be told.

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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