Travel writer Nigel Heath, a regular contributor to Mature Times, has just completed a personal trilogy.
His first book, Paths and Poetry, celebrates over forty years of cross Britain walking with fellow journo and poet, Peter Gibbs, while the second, Going Abroad, covers many years of travels around the world.
Now he has just published Newspapers & PR, a Media Life.
Spanning some fifty years, it opens with all the trials and tribulations of being a trainee journalist on a small West Country weekly in the 1960s and moves up several gears when he joined the Bristol Evening Post in 1970.
‘The 1970s and 1980s were perhaps the last of a hot metal golden age of journalism when our Post news room was staffed by over thirty reporters and we operated satellite district offices around the region,’ said Nigel.
‘Those were the days before mobile phones and the mighty internet, when I relied heavily on telephone boxes to file my copy, and bulky, well-thumbed telephone directories were a vital tool of the trade,’ he recalled.
‘What I simply loved about my reporting career, was that one never knew just what a new day would bring and how occasionally fact could often turn out to be funnier than fiction.
‘Back in those days, the idea of coming away from a council meeting without at least one good story was unthinkable. But it looked like that was going to happen at a never to be forgotten meeting of a former Urban District Council’s Finance Committee in Clevedon, North Somerset.
‘The proceedings droned on for several hours from one boring agenda item to another and I began feeling increasingly desperate,” he remembered.
‘Then I spotted a long rope curled up under the clerk’s table and all my instincts told me I was on to a story. What’s that rope doing there?’ I asked the clerk when at last the meeting was over.
‘I was rather hoping you wouldn’t have noticed that because it’s our emergency fire escape, following an inspection which found that our existing external steps are too dangerous to use!’ he explained.
‘On another occasion, I was just finishing my lunch at my home in the village of Congresbury when the News Desk called to say there was a farmhouse on fire in nearby Hewish and if I hurried I night have just enough time to file a few paragraphs for the three-star edition, I was told.
‘Jumping into my Mini and driving out of Congresbury, I was soon on the scene of this blaze. The local fire brigade had arrived, but I noticed four young men in casual clothes, assisting which I thought was a bit odd,’ said Nigel.
‘Twenty minutes later, I was just coming out of the phone box having filed my copy, when I saw these four young men walking towards me along the A370 pushing a toy fire engine! So, what’s going on here lads?’ I asked
‘You are never going to believe this, but we are off duty firemen on a sponsored walk from our station in Birmingham. We were the first on the scene of this blaze and all we had was a toy fire engine and a four- foot ladder!’ they explained.
Nigel spent seventeen years with the paper, first as a district reporter and latterly as its shipping reporter, covering the Port of Bristol, before leaving in 1989 to launch his own news and PR operation.
Stories from his busy decade reporting on the docks plus many more from his PR career, are all covered in his latest book which is available from Amazon Books by following this link.