Dartmoor in the early 1970s may have seemed like a picture-postcard town, but all sorts of dramas played out underneath the calm. This I discovered when I was transplanted from suburban Wimbledon to deeply rural Tavistock, where I served as an indentured trainee reporter on the local newspaper.
I have now developed a talk about my experiences there. I reveal where I was threatened with being impaled on top of the Maypole, how the churchwardens managed to keep their sheep rustling quiet, and why the asssistant postmaster refused to say whether he enjoyed his job. I also explain how these and other events turned me from a callow sociology graduate into a fully fledged reporter heading for Fleet Street.
And in these days of 24-hour coverage and 'fake news', there are some interesting lessons to draw . . .
Illustrations: I am lucky to be able to show some excellent photographs taken at the time by our larger-than-life staff photographer Jim Thorington (see right).
Timing: The talk normally runs from 30-50 minutes.
Speaker’s details: I was later a journalist on national and medical newspapers and magazines, and after that ran a business teaching written communication skills to health professionals. I have written four books on medical writing and a memoir. I am an experienced public speaker and former chairman of Mole Valley Speakers Club.
Extras: Signed copies of my book Mostly we had it good will be available to buy after the talk.
'Tim's talk at the Tavistock Wharf was a spirited and evocative account of his years as an apprentice reporter... It brought to life the characters he met and their eccentricities'
- Dr Ann Pulsford, talks organiser.
Mostly we had it good: We baby boomers have lived through lucky times, and my book records my journey through the last five decades of the 20th century. In this talk I share some of the main lessons, such as the advantages of being born just after the end of a major war, the unexpected twists of technological change – and the dangers of relying on memory alone.
'An entertaining, Interesting and thought provoking talk ... I heard discussion breaking out all over the place...’ Richard Deavin, President, Epsom Rotary Club
Write up your personal history: This talk guides would-be memoirists through the writing process in a series of eight straightforward steps, from Put Up or Shut Up to Preen Yourself (on your success). In between, the talk will look at researching, the writing process, editing, and publishing. This talk was developed for the 2017 Cranleigh Arts Festival.
15 January: A cub on the moor, Probus Club of the Bookhams
24 January: Growing up in Wimbledon, Wimbledon History Society
28 February: Mostly we had it good, Ashtead Rotary
13 May: Cub on the moor, Molesey Probus
23 May: A cub on the moor, Moleside Probus
9 October; A cub on the moor, Banstead Probus
15 October: A cub on the moor, South Croydon Probus
4 December: A cub on the moor, Surrey Retired Engineers
15 March: Mostly we had it good, Epsom Rotary Club
18 April: Writing my memoir, Society of Medical Writers, London
26 April: Mostly we had it good, Kingston Rotary Club
4 June: My Tavistock times, Friends of the Wharf, Tavistock
7 November: Mostly we had it good, Leatherhead Rotary Club
19 December: Mostly we had it good, Rotary Club of Sutton Nonsuch
'Beautifully written ... a rare good autobiography'
A cub on the moor: a short talk on life as a country reporter in the 1970s. Available for Rotary Clubs, Probus, U3A and other groups.
Winning the publications game: the groundbreaking book on writing scientific papers.