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We have a movie clip this week. It’ll come as a boon to all those Ranters readers who are still experiencing difficulty in getting to grips with the printed word.
This one’s actually a trailer for a movie that’s currently doing the rounds of film festivals in Europe and the States and the reason we’re showing it is that it’s about one of the best stories ever covered by Fleet Street (and the rest of the world).
The title is Tabloid. And the plot is based on Tony Delano’s brilliant book, Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon. Remember it now?
As Peter Tory says in the trailer, ‘It was in all the papers…’
The guy who made the movie paid $300 for an out-of-print copy of the book. You can buy it – back in print and updated – for a mere £9.99. Or, from today, you can download it onto your screen or e-reader as an e-book for something like half that price. You can find it here, or at the usual e-book outlets.
But the trailer’s worth watching – if only because it’s so badly made. It includes short interviews with a couple of Fleet Street worthies, as well quotes from the now-raddled old whore, Joyce herself.
For those who don’t remember the story – but more especially for those who do, but who never look at our book pages – Derek Jameson sportingly reviews the book and outlines the plot…
We’ve been running (some of you have noticed) a series about how people got started in journalism. The contribution from Judy Ward doesn’t quite fit that category – she’s writing about her third start, at the Express, writing for editors whose names she can’t remember. Well, it’s not as if they were important. But she does recall trying to fry eggs on the pavement, a summer job regularly reserved at the London Mirror for reporter Ron Ricketts.
Ian Watson, however, fits the bill perfectly, but with a big difference. At the age of 35 he was offered a move from the comps’ room to the editorial floor as a sub. Young readers might find his story difficult to follow; they were doing 96 pages, seven or eight editions, plus a couple of regional slips. Also, much of the vocabulary will appear to be in code… It was the late sixties, a world away.
Then there’s Rudge, and it’s back to where we started – trying to fathom e-books…
But, before we start, let’s not forget our mission statement; the raison d’etre of this site (as described by a Media Guardian reader last week) is about getting pissed.
In olden days, the first Christmas party every year was organised by the staff of the Sunday People – usually in February. This year’s, billed as the Absolute Bloody Final event, breaks with tradition and takes place on July 5.
So you might wish to raise a glass or three as former Mirror group staffers get together for a home-grown cabaret night which promises to be a cross between Fleet Street Has Never Had Talent and Last of The Summer Whine.
Promoter Lew (David) Graves, a former People snapper, has assembled a senior-studded cast of the usual suspects eager to shuffle (few of them strut any more) their stuff.
They include the low-kicking chorus line ‘Les Girls’ (arthritis permitting), velvet-voiced adman Jim Sollis, pithy (yes, we did spell that right) performer Plain John Smith and photographer Mike Maloney whose near-perfect Elvis impersonation will guarantee that EVERYBODY leaves the building.
The venue is the appropriately named English Martyrs Club in Prescott Street, London E1 on Tuesday, July 5 from 7 to 11.30 pm. There are a few tickets (£15, in aid of the Journalists’ Charity) left. Contact Lesley Hutchins at [email protected] or phone 0207 232 3046
The real McKinney
By Derek Jameson
It was a tabloid editor’s dream come true. Thirty years on and the pulse still quickens at the thought of Southern belle Joyce McKinney abducting her former lover, Mormon missionary Kirk Anderson, shackling him to a bed and Having Her Way with him. In a Dartmoor cottage, of all places.
Joyce herself reckoned it was the Greatest Love Story Ever Told. Under arrest on kidnapping charges, she told Epsom magistrates that such was her love for Anderson, ‘I would have skied down Mount Everest in the nude with a carnation up my nose.’
Released on bail, she made whoopee on Fleet Street expenses while frenzied picture editors plotted how to get a shot of her on skis, preferably naked. ‘No waayy,’ she said, ‘No way would Ah ever take off mah clothes before a camera. Ah am a religious person.’
Shortly before she was due in dock at the Old Bailey, she was taken to the pictures – Joan Collins in The Stud – in a Daily Express Roller and later escorted home to her lodgings. Then she disappeared.
Mirror executive Anthony Delano, having given us the hilarious story of the bungled attempt to bring train robber Ronnie Biggs home from Brazil (Slip-Up, Revel Barker Publishing, £9.99), subsequently produced a blow-by-blow account of the McKinney saga under the title Joyce McKinney and the Manacled Mormon.
It was a rush job, produced for Mirror Books in 1978, and in recent times has become a collector’s item selling for more than £100. Now Delano, who these days has given up daily deadlines for a university professor’s chair, has plugged gaps in the earlier book, tidied up the text and adjusted the title to Joyce McKinney and the Case of the Manacled Mormon. He has also binned 16 pages of tacky pictures, which I rather missed, but the book still promises to be as big a sensation as the first version.
The basic facts remain unaltered. In September 1977 Joy, as she liked to be called, and her faithful and supposedly platonic acolyte Keith May, were charged with kidnapping Anderson, a missionary dispatched from Utah presumably to escape the attentions of McKinney. He told police he was grabbed outside a Mormon church in Epsom, bundled into a car and driven to the rented cottage in Devon.
There he was held for three days, shackled to an iron bed. On the third night May appeared with chains, ropes and padlocks. Anderson was tied to the four corners of the bed and McKinney then forced him to take part in a sex session, claiming she wanted to conceive as she had miscarried his baby in America.
What makes Delano’s superbly told story unique is his detailed reporting of Fleet Street tabloids at work and the thinking of the two editors principally involved, Mike Molloy of the Daily Mirror and yours truly, Derek Jameson of the Daily Express – not long before that, Molloy’s friend and deputy at the Mirror. Delano is the man who knows all – at the time he was the Mirror’s chief correspondent in America.
The essence of the story was the way in which Joy managed to persuade the Express – so triumphant to have found her in hiding in Atlanta – that she was a God-fearing innocent whose only crime was her obsessive love for Kirk Anderson, while the Mirror’s parallel investigation discovered that this former beauty queen with the surgically enhanced breasts actually made her money as a massage parlour queen touting weird sexual services in Los Angeles.
Peter Tory, then of the Hickey column, had escorted Joy to the movie premiere on the night before she did her vanishing act. His pride severely wounded, he subsequently found her hiding in Atlanta with Keith May. It seemed only fair to me that Tory should handle her exclusive story, for which I paid her the princely sum of £40,000.
The highly experienced, ebullient Brian Vine and chief photographer Bill Lovelace were dispatched to assist Tory and the Express team hit the road, never staying Iong in the same place. Joy was afraid the FBI was after her; Tory and Vine were more worried about the competition.
Delano writes: ‘Along the way Tory and Vine debriefed Joy, shaped and polished the story of her life before and after Kirk…The series was to run for a full week. It was fragrant with innocence and maidenly pride. The Mormons had been beastly, so had the British. It would have been impossible for her and Keith to get a fair trial because no one in Britain could understand what she had felt for Kirk.’
Back at the Mirror, Molloy and his team – notably photographer Kent Gavin, who had acquired 300 sleazy photographs, and reporters Roger Beam, Frank Palmer and Jill Evans – were chuckling. They learnt from bookings for TV commercials that the Express was about to publish. That would let loose the Mirror bombshell. Molloy had been sitting on the sensational revelations for weeks, fearing to publish in case he was held to have influenced a jury. In the event, the CPS dropped all proceedings.
Molloy unlocked his safe and handed out his layouts. ‘Only one headline on Page One,’ he instructed: The Real McKinney.
It was the tabloid scoop of the decade, says Delano. The Express presses were still spilling out the anodyne version that Vine and Tory had concocted while a few hundred yards to the west Mirror vans were pulling away with bundles of papers that displayed Joy in all her nakedness.
Hearing the news in a shabby hotel in Myrtle Beach, South Caroline, Joy went berserk. Tory recalled: ‘She rushed for the windows, clawing her way up the curtains. She was dressed in her nun’s habit. She looked like a giant bat.’ Eventually she was restrained, taken to hospital and sedated.
Delano concludes: Jameson took it like a man. He made his way to the Mirror’s favourite pub, appropriately named the Stab in the Back, took in the riotous celebration going on there, and thrust both hands in the air. ‘I surrender!’
‘What else could I do?’ he asked afterwards. ‘They are all my mates. They had done a marvellous job, much as it hurt me to say so. What could I do but buy them all a drink.’
Delano recounts a strange sequel to this tale of tabloid tears and laughter… Joy turned up in Seoul earlier this year with a scrap of the ear of her late pit-bull terrier, Booger. She later produced five puppies she said had been cloned by Korean scientists. Using the name Bernann McKinney, she denied she was Joyce – but the game was up when her picture made the papers. True to form, she disappeared again, leaving behind five puppies – and a bill for £25,000.
Joyce McKinney and the Manacled Mormon is published by Revel Barker and is currently available with free delivery worldwide from The Book Depository
Scoop? – What’s a scoop?
By Judy Ward Bradwell
It was in the early 1960s that I took the lift to the editorial floor of the big black building in Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, the head office of the northern edition of the Daily Express. It was a large editorial floor, well lit by a wall of windows letting in the bright light of the city.
I’d been told to report to an editor, whose name I don’t recall. I tried, as best I could, while clutching an elegant but carefully-closed long umbrella as a walking stick, to stride manfully across to the office at the far end of the room. As a woman I knew I had to stride out manfully across editorial floors, even in high heels. I had put my knee out two days earlier and I need the umbrella for help.
I later discovered it was thanks to a conversation over a drink in a Manchester bar that I had been phoned by the paper and asked if I’d like to be interviewed for a job. As a subdued minion working on the Manchester Evening Chronicle for the ferocious red-headed news editor Harold Mellor I was all too delighted to look for a change. I was on my way up in the journalism trade. ‘Remember we make tables and don’t do art work,’ an editor once told me, but that was many years later.
When I took the lift to the Express editorial floor I was still engulfed with the wish to change the world through my writing. I was offered a job, and there was space for some creativity after all. I remember trying to fry an egg on the pavement outside the Daily Express on a hot day just so I could write a story about it being warm enough to fry eggs on the pavement. There was room for such artistic culinary license on the Express: the cooked egg was a failure.
I worked for three or four editors during the three-and-a-half entertaining years I spent on the paper. Don’t know entirely how I survived – perhaps because I was young (early twenties), blonde (well, fairish but should hair colour have anything to do with this?) and a northerner (I could understand the local accent, not always apparent to editors from the south). Some of the accents used by those we had to interview ‘up north’ were a bit tricky, and I did get by except among the miners of the North East where I found I didn’t do Geordie. I accepted the northern tag with pride. I had other interests and didn’t wish to go to London. I would leave eventually of my own accord but I did wonder why I was kept on.
The Express news editor Tom Campbell always seemed to ensure I was kept busy, even if I was being dispatched by boat to Ireland. Most days there was a story, often overnight away from Manchester. You could sit round the office for seven hours and then within an hour of going home be sent to a story in Yorkshire.
Although these weren’t, let’s be honest, always of the foot-in-the-door demanding kind I survived change after change of editors, both in Manchester and London. It was Eric Raybould, one of my Manchester editors, who said being an editor was a bit like being pushed along the plank on the edge of a pirate ship. ‘There’s just the long way down, and the water below.’ Such was the scene back then.
The great Bob Edwards on a visit from London strode into the editorial area. ‘And what scoops have you provided?’ he asked me, as I was the nearest reporter at the end of the line of desks and typewriters. As others fumbled in their mind for exclusives I looked at him blankly. I wasn’t sure what his sort of ‘scoop’ was as it wasn’t a word much used in Manchester back then.
He passed me by. Somehow I survived. Other journalists like (Dame) Ann Leslie and (Sir) Michael Parkinson would travel south, as would Derek Taylor, on behalf of The Beatles, and in the end I travelled many miles. I married the late Paul Bradwell, a New Zealander and news editor of the Manchester Evening News. I ended up in magazines, newspapers and book publishing in Wellington, New Zealand.
Judy Ward grew up in a pub: the Hesketh Arms in Southport. She began her career as a reporter on the Southport Visiter, moved from there to the Manchester Evening Chronicle and then to the Daily Express in Gt Ancoats Street. After ten years as London correspondent for a group of New Zealand newspapers she moved with her husband Paul Bradwell and their family to Wellington, New Zealand.
Baptism of fire
By Ian Watson
Normally, I’m a passive, laid-back Ranters reader. However, the account by Garry Steckles last week of his early days as a young scribe in Manchester brought memories of my first day on a news desk flooding back. You see, Garry was there…
It was Tuesday, October 7, 1969 and I was beavering away in the Toronto Globe & Mail composing room – ‘the works’ as Canadians called that hallowed place. I was a Glasgow Herald-trained straw-boss ‘printer’, the Canuck’s tag for a time-served compositor-Linotype operator of the old school. It was 3pm and I had just begun laying up heavy steel chases on the stone to block in adverts for the ‘bulldog’ (first edition, for those too young to remember). As I recall, we had 96 pages planned for that night with the usual seven or eight editions plus a couple of ‘slips’.
Anyway, a tap on the shoulder straightened me up as I was about to place a mitered 6pt column rule around a brassière advert, the identity of which I had pencilled in on the layout as ‘Stopsemphlapen Gesellschaftsvertrag Co Ltd’ for the enlightenment and amusement of the women’s section editors.
‘Can you hold a pencil, Ian?’ asked managing editor Clark Davey. ‘Do you still want to be a copy editor?’
‘Well, yes, I guess so.’ I was a bit taken aback because I had been knocking on his door for years. ‘When and where do I start?’
‘Right now, 5th floor main rim,’ said Davey, a tough, but hugely popular newsman, nowadays in his 80s and living hale and hearty in Ottawa.
I shed my Goth-like dustcoat, parked my tweezers and splitter, and took the back lift up into the brave new world of cocktails instead of beer, expense slips laced with lies, and a ‘screw-you’ attitude if you weren’t a Maple Leafs fan or at least a member of sports editor Jim Vipond’s curling team.
‘Sit there,’ Davey indicated the huge horseshoe-shaped main rim (sub-editors’ table) and ‘I’ll catch you later,’ he said, hurrying towards his room overlooking the Lord Simcoe Hotel at the corner of King St West and York.
The slotman (chief sub) Martin Lynch introduced me to two downtable colleagues, Lois Scott and A N Other. Baffled, I wondered out loud: ‘Where’s everyone else.’
‘Oh, that’s all of us for now,’ said the bearded giant, who had vowed never to shave until the newspaper’s owner, R Howard Webster, divested himself of his Schick Razor Co shares. Marty’s greatest, though unnerving attribute, was total recall, a photographic memory that proved a massive blessing over the years. ‘Everyone else is off with Hong Kong Flu. You three are it, I’m afraid. So here’s something for you, Ian,’ said Lynch, handing me my first ‘live’ story, ‘but keep it under your blotter, because it’ll likely develop later.’
Thus began, at 35, my baptism of fire in the breechblock of major Canadian journalism. I toyed with my five-graf filler, the demand for a three-deck s/c head pencilled at top. I wrote on a sheet of copy paper: Montreal police, // firemen threaten // mass walkout.
Next up, to howls of laughter from Lynch et al, the first six-column head created by this ‘instant journo’ had been rejected by the caseroom Ludlow operator; it was ignominiously dumped into Lynch’s in-basket by his soul-less Lamson-Paragon pneumatic tube carrier. My carefully worked title had bounced by a country mile and I was mortified. As a Lino op, I had never sent a bounced head back to the chief sub without offering an alternative ‘fit’.
And so Montreal’s ‘Night of Terror’ began to develop hour by exciting hour. The city’s police force, firemen and taxi drivers all withdrew their labour over various complaints – pay, conditions and territorial parameters. While the Globe’s 16pp Report on Business section (Garry Steckle’s bailiwick in those days) was being put to bed as an airmail spinoff, all hell started to break loose in Montreal. By dusk, the number of bank robberies in that quintessentially French city – custodian of all things financial in that restless Quebec province and overlord of the St Lawrence River trade – had doubled.
When full darkness descended, Montreal sources began reporting a major crime every few minutes – arson, looting, shooting, robbery with violence, muggings, unprovoked assaults as well as sheer vandalism on a grand scale. There was unrest along the waterfront, too, as maritime and transport unionists took advantage of the situation to settle old scores, battling it out ship-to-shore and vice-versa.
Montreal was in a state of shock for 16 long hours… as was yours truly, subbing running copy, rushing downstairs two-at-a-time to the caseroom to intercept the still-hot slugs on the bulk, opening up the front and other working pages already on the moulding presses or on trolleys, updating the flare, making sure the inserts were properly placed while reading proofs upside down (easy for me), and then checking the inter-edition plate changes in the press room far below ground.
With a staff shortage of some 17 subs evident in all corners of the newsroom, at the start we were hard pushed to get the self-styled ‘national’ paper out on time, far less do justice to a huge breaking story. Earlier, the newspaper’s bean counters had failed to stump up enough ‘readies’ to get our pen and notebook guys in the air. We held a hasty whip-round in the office and raised sufficient cash to put two reporters and a cameraman aboard an early-evening flight bound for that beleaguered city 500km away.
As time went by, however, the pressure eased a bit as ‘sportsies’ and business subs came over with offers of help. News editor Alan ‘Big Guns’ Dawson (he was saddled with the nom-de-guerre because as a maritime command airman protecting Canada’s eastern coastline, he was reputed to have flown with twin-.45s tucked inside his flying boots) started subbing, too.
Dawson‘s sidekick and deputy, Fred Egan, pitched in with some pithy advice. Egan had come to national daily prominence because he had scooped the continent’s reporting elite in the aftermath of the 1958 ‘Springhill Bump’, a coal mine disaster in which 74 men had died the day before. Egan had been wooing the small Nova Scotia mining community’s switchboard operator who, it was rumoured, pulled the plugs (literally) on incoming calls from newshounds all over North America in favour of Egan’s open line to the Globe.
Around 5 next morning, it was all over bar the shouting and I fell into bed in a hotel room provided by a grateful management. Next day, Clark Davey called me and said: ‘I hear Martin gave you a good workout last night. You’ve got the job.’
Forty-two years and three continents later, I’m still battling deadlines… thank goodness.
Ian Watson left the Toronto Globe & Mail in 1971 and returned to the Glasgow Herald as a sub-editor. He resettled in the then Rhodesia before moving to Hong Kong where he’s lived for 30 years.