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Forgive Us Our Press Passes Paperback – 14 Feb 2008
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Journalist, broadcaster and author IAN SKIDMORE collects rare books and fine wines by choice and unlikely anecdotes and engaging eccentrics almost by accident. His first, hilarious, account of such encounters was celebrated a quarter of a century ago in the first edition of this book. The Liverpool Daily Post said its publication identified him as 'the successor to Tom Sharpe' and actor Ian Carmichael described it as 'a comic masterpiece'. Wales on Sunday said it would be a 'hard act to follow'. It was chosen as BBC Book of the Year, had the highest listening figures on Radio Four, and was read twice on the BBC Overseas Service. The Daily Post described Ian Skidmore as Wales' funniest columnist, the Western Mail as 'a great eccentric'. Now, revisited, revised, and expanded to more than twice its original length it is being published in this special edition.
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"Informants were necessary because I was getting a great deal of aggravation from local linage pools. Things got so bad, indeed, that I used to go often to Chester zoo and play with a baby gorilla who became a fast friend. I would buy him the odd ice lollipop. He liked the ones that were chocolate-covered best, but friendship is never cheap, and we would play about and wrestle on the green lawn in front of his quarters on long evenings after the zoo had closed..."
Or - "When we walked down the aisle at St Paul's Church I was completely broke. Happily, during the reception rich relatives kept pressing money on me..."
He writes fluently and perceptively about the rigours of life, which have tended to congregate around his ample figure like a crop to be garnered in print at the right moment. In this turmoil of character and characters, he casually drops a name or two here and there to show his proximity to class as well as glass, but why not, indeed?
Anyone buying Forgive Us Our Press Passes should bend the covers back at page 75 for easy access in future. For here is an account of his meeting with Aneurin Bevan, one of the towering politicians of our era. It is a Dickensian-like story of innocence, betrayal and deception and absolutely compelling. Skidmore's best, in my view.
Stories that would never make the papers.
These unprinted legends circulated secretly among an elite handful of national newspaper reporters and photographers -- colourful characters whose own outrageous tales often eclipsed those in the headlines they created.
Now that well-paid jobs and bumper expense accounts are no longer at stake, vintage scribe and broadcaster Ian Skidmore blows the whistle on the jolly jape that was journalism in the 50s, 60s and 70s.
*Forgive Us Our Press Passes* is a surreal yarn of the slapstick and wit shared by a crackpot but talented crew of hacks who somehow produced the greatest newspaper circulation figures in the history of the world press ... between pub opening hours.
Only a Methodist, a tailor's dummy or a university journalism student could fail to split his sides at the anecdotes in this hilariously written, warts-n-all account of the media circus BEFORE they sent in the clowns.
I wonder how many old hands have bought this book ...and carefully hidden it from their wives.
Effectively it is a new book -- twice as entertaining and informative as its predecessor. No one will regret buying it again.
For "Daily Mirror" journalist "Skiddy" muses on the changes in national journalism in recent years. His misgivings on the massive entry of university graduates are clear. And his erudition and sense of humour are apparent on every page.
Ian is truly a man of many parts and has worked as hard as he drank. He has now written 26 books -- histories, biographies, fiction, comedy. For many years he was a BBC broadcaster with many millions of listeners round the world. His regular talks to Australia drew record audiences "down under"
Stanley Blenkinsop, "Daily Express" news editor, 1969--86