In this outspoken and enjoyable autobiography, Barrie Williams looks back on a 44-year career as a journalist and editor in the regional newspaper industry.
It is the story of a working-class Shropshire lad who started out as a trainee journalist in 1961 at the age of 16 and went on to become an award-winning editor.
Born in Oswestry, Shropshire, at 16 years of age he joined the Shrewsbury Chronicle as a trainee reporter, under the watchful eye of its eccentric but charismatic editor Jack Cater. Here he was to learn the rudiments of his chosen profession and, incidentally, become Shropshire’s chronicler of the 1960s beat music scene, interviewing many of the most famous pop stars of the day.
He rapidly progressed, via a variety of regional newspaper jobs, to join the Kent Evening Post, in 1971. Five years later he became its editor, at the age of 31.
In 1981 he was appointed editor of the Nottingham Evening Post, where he remained for 14 successful years before moving on to become editor of Plymouth-based Western Morning News in 1995, a post he held until taking early retirement in 2005.
His book offers outsiders a peep behind the scenes at the often bizarre goings-on within the world of regional newspapers and the colourful characters who work for them ~ from the shop-floor to the boardroom.
His campaigning style of journalism led to run-ins with trade unioninsts, stand-offs with local councillors and brought him face-to-face with Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher, John Major and Tony Blair over such issues as the Nottingham Miner's Strike and the Foot and Mouth epidemic.
On a lighter note, his love of sport brought him close associations with footballing heroes Alan Ball, Brian Clough and Tommy Lawton, to name but three and under his editorship his newspapers led valuable support to worthwhile projects such as the redevelopment of the historic Chatham Dockyard and the construction of world famous Eden Project (director of the Eden Project Tim Smit contributed the Foreword to Barrie's book).
Add to this a host of hilarious depictions of the many comical situations in which he found himself over the years and you have the recipe for a book with plenty to entertain any reader.