Thursday, 23 October 2008

1981: The Beckindale Bugle

"But I've got my finger on't pulse, Mr Tyler..."

When Amos Brearly answered the phone at The Woolpack one morning in late May 1981, he never had any inkling of what was about to happen. He was a blithe, free spirit (well, as much as a Brearly could be) when he lifted the receiver. He was an absolute wreck when he hung up, blood pounding in his ears, despondency fighting intense anger, his life in absolute tatters.

And the first thing he did was to charge through to the back room and tear up the latest edition of The Hotten Courier - under the startled gaze of Mr Wilks: "Bear witness, Mr Wilks, to my severing - finally and forever - any connection I may have had with this worthless and dishonourable newspaper!"

As it was well known in Beckindale that Amos considered The Courier, particularly his contributions, as being just one step down from The Times, this statement came as something of a shock.

Amos, quivering and quaking (what would folk think?!) told Mr Wilks his sorry tale: Mr Tyler, the editor of The Hotten Courier, had decided to make staff cutbacks. And he had decided that Frank Hencoller could easily cover the "Beckindale angle". Amos described Mr Hencoller as a "drunken layabout" with as much journalistic ability as "a goose quill - still stuck in't backside o't goose, an' all!"

Once word got out, Amos would be a laughing stock. He decided to tweak the truth - he would tell people he had resigned - tendered his resignation due to pressure of work.

Still in a turmoil, Amos sought refuge on his allotment where Seth Armstrong, having heard the news of Amos' resignation from The Courier on his morning visit to The Woolpack, came to haunt him.

"If you've owt to get on with, get on with it - I'm in no mood for idle chatter!" said Amos.

But that didn't stop Seth - who was there to have a little dig around in Amos' brain pan and discover the truth behind his "resignation". Never a good liar, Amos spouted something about a "conflict of personality" at the paper. Seth leapt on that. But Mr Wilks had said Amos had resigned through lack of time.

"Aye, that an' all," muttered Amos, pretending to be concentrating on his allotment.

Seth buzzed around like an irritating gnat: "Not quite up to scratch, weren't we?"

Amos rose up before him: "That's nowt to do wi' it. There's problems on newspapers as don't occur to those as isn't un-initiated."

Unitiated? Well, that's what he said!

Amos told Seth that without a skilled local correspondent, The Courier would soon notice the difference.

"'appen!" said Seth, still gleefully stirring the pot. "But 'appen gap'll be filled - think on that, Amos!" and Seth set off on his bike, happy at the successful completion of yet another Brearly wind up.

But Amos was smiling. Happen the gap for a skilled local correspondent would be filled - and who better to fill it than himself? After all, The Courier didn't have a copyright on the local news...

"Why worry about editors and suchlike when you can be your own?"

The next morning, Mr Wilks found Amos up and about early, rummaging around for his trusty old camera, claiming not to have slept a wink the night before. He was clearly excited about something, and was soon sharing his news with Mr Wilks:

"I'm going to produce my own Beckindale local newsheet!"

Mr Wilks asked how he intended to get it printed? Amos had a small, second-hand photocopier in mind - going for the knock-down price of £20 in Hotten. The rest was easy:

"I'll write out all me own copy, type it out, and then get photos of items and events of interest, I'll sell it over't counter - could attract trade an' all!"

"If you felt like making any contribution, I might give you a byline to yourself, a photograph of yourself alongside. How about that, eh?" chortled Amos.

"I don't know if I could stand the honour, Amos!" said Mr Wilks.

Amos does his David Bailey act.

Amos went to Hotten to buy the small, "knock down price", second hand photocopier. I must say, it shows how determined he was: I've never known anybody to have a photocopier at home! "It could be best investment as I ever made!" said Amos to a slightly doubting Mr Wilks.

Amos told Mr Wilks he wouldn't demean himself by carrying advertisements in The Bugle. "No newspaper makes a profit these days - it's a public service!"

"Are you sure gratifying a personal whim doesn't come into it?" queried Mr Wilks.

"I don't know what you're on about!" cried Amos, The Virtuous.

Had Amos any idea of a name for his new venture? asked Mr Wilks. Amos had.

"How do you fancy ring of Beckindale Bugle?!" Amos smiled. And he donned his eyeshade to add an authentic touch to the proceedings.

Amos was soon running amok with his camera: he caused the vicar to upset a pile of books and papers when he got him to pose with a cricket bat at the Vicarage, and got on NY Estates' manager Richard Anstey's nerves by leaving the lens cap on the camera, thus having to re-take the picture of Mr A.

Jack Sugden was startled as Amos photographed him with some of the cows up at Emmerdale, and John Tuplin was bemused when Amos photographed him with some of NY's cattle. Amos tended to rush at each of his victims, sorry, I mean "subjects", jabbering away ten to the dozen, click the shutter, and be off, never taking more than one shot to ensure any quality control.

At The Woolpack, Amos announced to Seth that he was preparing a "photographic portfolio of local worthies" for The Bugle - and Seth just might be in the first edition - although he wasn't promising owt...

The Beckindale Bugle was put together by the original cut and paste method. Letraset lettering was bought for headings, and each article was then typed up in neat columns, cut out, and pasted on to a blank sheet of paper - together with the various headings. Amos planned to add the photographs when they had been processed.

He told Mr Wilks that he planned to run off "a couple of hundred" copies to start with. Publication day would be the same day as The Hotten Courier. The price of a Bugle would be three pence more than a Courier - 15p.

Mr Wilks is fed up with looking after a busy pub on his own and insists that Amos comes through to the bar to help. Amos decides he must burn some midnight oil after closing time...

Although Amos insisted that his publication would be a quality item, it makes me smile to remember just what poor quality photocopied photographs were. The process used by Amos was the one used by me and my classmates on my school's quarterly magazine back in the early 1980s. Nowadays things are totally different - and it all seems positively prehistoric!

Pasting up is coming on a treat - what a great front page...

Mr Wilks leaves Amos at his photocopier, to burn the midnight oil...

... the night ticks on into the wee small hours...

... and Mr Wilks discovers Amos slumped over his typewriter, dead to the world! Never mind. By the morning Amos had run off all the Bugle pages that did not feature photographs.

What seemed an insurmountable setback lay just ahead: "Wilson's want five days to develop that film, say there's nowhere round 'ere can do it quicker!" Amos mournfully told Mr Wilks after an early morning telephone call to the shop.

Mr Wilks had the solution: "Run off an addendum saying that the photographs referred to will be on display in The Woolpack during normal licencing hours sometime next week. Could be good for trade!"

Amos had to admit (although only to himself) that Mr Wilks could be a good and useful friend. At times.

And he'd learn by his mistake - for issue two of The Bugle, he'd have the photographs ready well in time, he decided.

Afternoon trade was brisk that day, and Amos had just given his proof copy of The Beckindale Bugle to the Rev Hinton, who was in the bar, to look at and make comments on "points of style", when Frank Hencoller came rolling in.

"You've got a rival now - that'll keep you on your toes!" Seth told him, as Mr H became aware of the vicar's reading matter.

"Not my fault, I only do what Editor asks me to," said Mr Hencoller, who was more than slightly squiffy.

His attempts to make peace with Amos were unsuccessful: "No 'ard feelings!"

"There may be no 'ard feelings on your part, I'll keep my feelings to meself!" Amos huffed.

Time flew by and the deadline loomed... Amos collated and stapled all his pages, and The Bugle hit the streets...

The photographs were processed and went on display at The Woolpack, as promised.

A selection of Amos' "Bugle" photographs...

"Why does everybody in your photographs look so surprised?" asked Mr Wilks. "I mean, even the cows look a bit startled."

"Well, folk are not accustomed to 'avin' Press on their doorstep," sniffed Amos.

Despite the advent of The Bugle, Mr Wilks did not intend to desert The Courier...

... but then that newspaper, via Frank Hencoller, committed a most ghastly act! Amos came charging out of The Woolpack, clutching The Courier as Mr Wilks closed the trap doors to the cellar.

"I let Vicar 'ave a look at my proof copy, remember? It must've got left on't bar and Hencoller must've walked off with it! He's used my match story, my show story, my vegetable story, in some cases word for word!"

Amos was beside himself and made to tear the copy of The Courier he held to shreds, but Mr Wilks wrenched it from him.

"That's censorship, Amos! What if I want to have a read of it still?"

" Then I hope you'll do me't kindness of readin' it elsewhere than in my presence!" cried Amos.

Was there anything that could be done about Hencollar's plaigiarism, asked Mr Wilks?

"Nowt!" said Amos.

As Mr Wilks sought to uncrumple The Courier, Amos' attention was caught by a figure across the street. "There's Walter. Eh up, he's bought a copy o't Bugle from't shop!

"Your first sale, Amos - let's hope you keep it up!" smiled Mr Wilks.

It was small consolation. But definitely some compensation.

Sales were going quite well and then Mr Tyler, editor of The Courier, phoned The Woolpack the day after publication...

Amos listened to what Mr T had to say: the gist of it was that Frank Hencoller had fallen down on the job quite literally - he'd collasped in The Black Bull in Hotten the night before and hadn't turned in for work that morning. Mr Tyler wanted Amos to cover the Beckindale Versus NY Estates Cricket Match. Amos agreed. On the condition that he was reinstated as local correspondent for Beckindale on the Courier staff.

Amos' demand was readily met, and Mr Tyler promised to put it in writing straight away.

It really was a famous victory.

"And where does that leave The Bugle?" asked Mr Wilks.

"Just as a threat, Mr Wilks," said Amos. "I reckon Courier were worried about competition. I knew they would be when they got to hear."

Amos revealed that he knew that Mr Tyler couldn't do without him: "A good newspaper needs folk with their finger on't pulse!"

But it was the end for The Beckindale Bugle.

"Mind, Bugle served a good purpose though," said Amos. "Perhaps I might not've got my job back if it wasn't for all the work I put in on't Bugle." And he sailed, gloriously victorious, into the living quarters.

"And if it hadn't been for Frank Hencoller being indisposed in't Black Bull!" said Mr Wilks. But not too loudly.


  1. Callie24.10.08

    I agree - Amos Brearly was at his very best in the 1980s. As you say, a fine wine matured to perfection. I think he'd like that analogy!

  2. I love the way characters develop over a period of years in soaps... and Amos and Mr Wilks were so good in the '80's, I just adored watching them!

  3. I loved the way Seth armstong would always
    make fun of Amos and get his back up very funny to watch 80's emmerdale had such great comedy to it love it.

  4. It was terrific. When Seth became a regular at The Woolpack in 1980, and Amos got his allotment, the stage was set for some very enjoyable telly indeed!

  5. What was Christmas like at the woolpack in the 8Os's with Amos and Mr Wilks great fun i imagine.

  6. They had great fun - Amos was bell ringing in 1980. There was often a show at the village hall which Amos and Henry were involved in - such as The Pirates Of Penzance (1984) and Toad Of Toad Hall (1985), and in 1985 Amos had trouble with his exterior Christmas lights at The Woolpack: whenever somebody entered the pub, slamming the door closed as they did so, the lights went OUT!

  7. Hi Andy
    do you think that maybe 1980's Emmerdale farm will get a much awaited release on DVD just like classic Coronation street and crossroads have do yorkshire television still have all the 80's emmerdale episodes in thier archive?

  8. I really don't know, Dan.

    Magnus, a regular visitor to the Bugle, says that Network DVD found the sales of the 1972 Emmerdale Farm DVD disappointing when compared to sales of similar items, so it's unlikely that the 1980s will be appearing any time soon.

    But, with technology constantly changing, who knows what the possibilities are? Live in hope!