|The Smile on the Face of the Pig: Confessions of the Last Cub Reporter by John Bull|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A gentle, nostalgic look back at the life of a reporter on local papers in the nineteen fifties.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 150||Date: September 2011|
|Publisher: Chaplin Books|
John Bull was born in the mid thirties – old enough to be able to say that he was bombed in his cradle but young enough not to be directly involved. He was one of the last cub reporters – after that they changed the name – and The Smile on the Face of the Pig is the story of his time as a reporter, a National Serviceman, a husband and father in the nineteen fifties. It's a gentle, nostalgic look back at a decade when life was different. There might have been more hardships – but it's difficult to say that it was harder and this book is a reminder for those of us who were around at the time of what it was really like.
It was a time when you went into journalism because you had an aptitude and the job appealed to you rather than because you had a degree. John Bull started his career by interrupting his schooling but never seemed to have any regrets. It's fascinating to see how he learned his trade (mainly from other people on the job), the camaraderie which grew up on a paper and the little tricks which the reporters got up to. At a time when newspapers and their ethics are much in the news it's enlightening to look back at a time when values were different. The title of the book comes from a story which couldn't be published then – that of a man accused of bestiality with a pig – and it's interesting to consider how it would be treated nowadays.
There's a general interest in the book but you'll find it more interesting if you have a particular interest in Portsmouth, south London or Bath where Bull worked on local papers. The reading is very easy and it's supplemented by twenty five black and white photographs – and it's a great read if you're interested in how ordinary people – and an ordinary person reporting on ordinary people – really lived.
For more about the life of a newspaper we can recommend The Remarkable Lives of Bill Deedes by Stephen Robinson. For the definitive history of the nineteen fifties you have to read Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties by Peter Hennessy.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Smile on the Face of the Pig: Confessions of the Last Cub Reporter by John Bull at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Smile on the Face of the Pig: Confessions of the Last Cub Reporter by John Bull at Amazon.com.
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