Newspaper office memories inspire crime novel
A journalist who began his career on the Worthing Herald has drawn on his experiences on the paper in his latest crime mystery.
Stop Press Murder by Shoreham-based Peter Bartram has been published by Roundfire Books in paperback and e-book formats.
It tells the story of Colin Crampton, the crime reporter on a newspaper in 1960s Brighton, who gets caught up in a conspiracy while investigating the death of a man on the pier.
Peter, who worked as a reporter on the Herald in 1966 before going to university, said: “I’ve used much of the real-life atmosphere in the Herald newsroom of the 60s in the book.”
He later worked for newspapers and magazines in London before becoming freelance.
Peter has written 25 books, including four in his Crampton of the Chronicle crime mystery series.
“I was at the Worthing Herald just for a few months in 1966.
“ I was essentially doing my gap year though we didn’t actually call it a gap year in those days. I had signed up to do the three-year apprenticeship, and then I got an offer from a university so I decided to go off there –to the London School of Economics.”
He was there not so very long after Mick Jagger’s brief time at the university: “In my first year, my tutor had actually tutored Mick Jagger, and he told a story, I don’t know whether it is apocryphal or not.
“But Mick had handed in an essay. In those days you had to hand in an essay once a week and then go and discuss it with your tutor, and Mick had handed in a particularly-poor essay. Mick was saying ‘I am going to have to leave’, and the tutor said he said to Mick ‘The trouble with you, Mick, is that you are just a rolling stone…”
As Peter says, whatever its veracity, it’s a good story at the very least.
Peter’s time at the Worthing Herald was very much part of a different era, he recalls. The paper was once a week, as it is now; and it was tabloid, as it is now. But it was in opposition to the weekly Worthing Gazette: “And we had 14 people in the newsroom. We were working on typewriters in those days, the old sit-up-and-beg typewriters, and when you had 14 people all writing on typewriters, it was quite a racket!
“But I thoroughly enjoyed it – and I am recalling some of that atmosphere in the book.
“It is actually set in Brighton in the 1960s, and our hero works for a fictional newspaper there. He is the crime reporter of that newspaper, and in order to get his front-page splashes he actually has to solve some of the crimes.
“Colin is a young chap. In the first book he is 28, and he has got very high-flown ideals about justice and about righting wrongs and getting it right.
“But at the same time he is very crafty and devious. He will pull any journalistic trick to get his story. He is putting all these low tricks to high ends, he thinks. The end justifies the means!”
In the book, first, the saucy film of a nude woman bathing is stolen from a What the Butler Saw machine on Brighton’s Palace Pier.
Next, the pier’s night-watchman is murdered – his body found in the coconut shy. Colin Crampton, ace reporter on the Evening Chronicle, senses a scoop when he’s the only journalist to discover a link between the two crimes…
There is more information about the book on the author’s website at www.colincrampton.com.
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