Friday, 10 July 2020

Test your knowledge with the newsquiz

The top solo scorer in last week’s newsquiz was Toby Brown with 20.5 ahead of Janet Boyle on 18.5. The top team was Simon, Sue and Will Cole with 22. The Roberts family scored 18.5, Maura and Phil Parsons 18, Adam Batstone and Lucy Thorpe 17 and Bruce and Sarah Hayward 16.5. Here is this week’s quiz. As usual there are 25 questions about the week’s events. Give it a go and let me know how you get on. 

The Chancellor's plans to help the hospitality industry appear on Thursday's front pages

1. Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that, to reinvigorate the housing market, he would increase the threshold for stamp duty from £125,000 to what amount?
2. VAT on food, accommodation and attractions is to be cut from 20 per cent to what for the next six months?
3. Chancellor Rishi Sunak was pictured serving customers at which London restaurant after unveiling an 'eat out to help out’ scheme to help the hospitality sector?
4. In an exchange over the number of deaths in care homes at Prime Minister's Questions, Boris Johnson called Sir Keir Starmer Captain who?
5. The Government gave the go-ahead for more places to reopen this month but which of these are not on the July list? a) massage parlours b) tanning salons c) children’s soft play areas d) indoor swimming pools.
6. The Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that at least 13 what in the UK are at risk of closure as they are facing a financial black hole of up to £19billion due to the pandemic?
7. Which restaurant chain announced it would close 30 outlets and is expected to cut at least 1,000 jobs, saying the impact of coronavirus on trading meant it had to make a 'difficult decision’?
8. In a restructuring to 'mitigate the significant impact of Covid-19’, Boots announced it will cut more than 4,000 jobs - seven per cent of its workforce - and close 48 of what kind of stores?
9. Newspaper Group Reach, which announced 550 job losses, is the publisher of the Daily Mirror, the Daily Record and which other two daily national newspapers?
10. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said arts and culture 'make our country great’ and pledged a package of how much money to museums, galleries, theatres and music venues?
11. Television presenter Kate Garraway made an emotional return to Good Morning Britain and revealed her husband Derek Draper had almost died how many times during his 100-day battle with coronavirus?
12. The president of which country wore a mask and announced live on television he had tested positive for coronavirus?
13. Next, Asos and Amazon pulled which clothes label over workers’ pay and conditions at factories in Leicester?
14. Who tweeted to declare he was going to run for the presidency of America saying that ‘we must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future’?
15. The Metropolitan police apologised to which athlete after she was stopped and handcuffed while her baby son was in the car?
16. At London's High Court, actor Johnny Depp denied slapping ex-wife Amber Heard after she laughed at one of his tattoos. What did the tattoo say?
17. Which group said 'they had no choice' but to ask singer Tom Meighan to leave the band after he was charged with domestic assault?
18. Naya Rivera who is feared to have drowned at Lake Piru in California starred in which television show from 2009 to 2015?
19. In a video-link discussion on justice and equal rights The Duke and Duchess of Sussex said what 'must acknowledge the past' even if it is ‘uncomfortable’?
20. How did an 85-year-old woman die on Wednesday afternoon in Bow, East London?
21. Cambridge University's Fitzwilliam College, Canterbury Christ Church University and The Mary Rose Trust all cut ties with historian David Starkey after he told an online show that slavery was not genocide as 'so many ___ blacks' had survived. What is the missing word?
22. BBC podcast No Country For Young Women came under fire for its use of what woman's name?
23. Composer Ennio Morricone, who died aged 91, was nominated seven times for a Grammy Award and had his score for what film inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame?
24. Test cricket returned after the lockdown on Wednesday as England took on the West Indies at which ground?
25. Jamaican sprinter Usian Bolt shared the first picture of his baby daughter and revealed her ‘unusual but apt’ first two names. What are they?

Answers here

Friday, 3 July 2020

Been keeping up ... here's the newsquiz

The top solo scorers in last week’s newsquiz were Dora Allday and Tom Savage who both scored 22. The next best scorers with 18 were Sam Baker, Toby Brown, Emily Webber and Janet Boyle. The best team was the Roberts Family with 23, just ahead of Simon, Sue and Will Cole on 22. The Penmans scored 21, Maura and Phil Parsons 20 and Adam Batstone and Lucy Thorpe 19. Here is this week’s newsquiz. As usual there are 25 questions about the week’s events. Give it a go and let me know how you get on. 

Today's front pages

1. The first local lockdown was announced in Leicester with Health Secretary Matt Hancock saying the city had what per cent of 'all positive cases in the country over the past week'?
2. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that people arriving in England from 60 countries will no longer need to quarantine from July 10. Which of these countries did Mr Shapps say would not be on the exempt list? a) Germany b) America c) New Zealand d) Italy.
3. Which country extended its ban on flights from the UK until July 15?
4. EasyJet announced a restructuring which involves losing 4,500 staff and permanently closing its bases at Stansted and which other two UK airports? Half a point for each.
5. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was pictured doing press-ups and said: 'I’m as fit as a ___ ___ now.' What are the missing two words?
6. Two illegal street parties were broken up after dispersal zones were put in place on Saturday night, giving officers extra powers to order people to leave which two London commons? Half a point for each.
7. The Government ruled that people should avoid 'singing, shouting, raising voices and playing music at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult' at what occasions?
8. The SSP Group, which operates 580 food and drink outlets, said up to 5,000 jobs could be cut 'as it struggles with the reduction in passenger travel'. Name any one of the outlets SSP owns.
9. The governor of which US state ordered all bars to close immediately in seven counties, citing a rapid spread of coronavirus?
10. Who justified a trip to Greece by saying he was 'on essential business trying to Covid-proof my property in view of the upcoming letting season. I need to set up distancing measures at the property because they’re taking it very seriously here'?
11. What is the name of the cabinet secretary and head of the civil service who announced he will stand down in September?
12. A statue of which former African leader was destroyed in Cannizaro Park in Wimbledon?
13. What two-word phrase meaning 'the heart of the matter' was reported to be on Sky Sports list of words and phrases associated with slavery which their commentators will be banned from saying on air?
14. Sponsors FedEx urged which American football team to change its 'racist' team name?
15. Badreddin Abadlla Adam was shot dead after six people, including a police officer, were stabbed at which hotel in Glasgow?
16. Four gunmen attacked which country's stock exchange, killing two security guards and a police officer?
17. The Government said that mandatory MOTs for vehicles in England, Scotland and Wales are to be reintroduced from what date?
18. How old is Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who is facing charges after being arrested by the FBI accused of assisting the abuse of minors? 
19. China introduced a national security law covering Hong Kong saying crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces would be punishable by what maximum sentence?
20. Which global entertainment firm filed for bankruptcy in Canada and cut 3,500 jobs after the pandemic shuts down its shows?
21. Which former FA Cup winning football team was threatened with a 12-point deduction after going into administration?
22. A nationwide clap to thank the NHS is planned for 5pm on Sunday to mark the service’s anniversary of how many years?
23. Journalists Matt Chorley, Stig Abel, John Pienaar and Mariella Frostrup could be heard at what new venture?
24. The Rolling Stones warned US President Donald Trump that he could face legal action for using their material after what song was played at a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma?
25. What will be allowed on Britain's roads for the first time from Saturday (July 4), with trials being planned for 12 months to assess their safety?

Answers here

Friday, 26 June 2020

Take a break with the newsquiz

The top solo scorers in last week’s newsquiz were Dora Allday and Toby Brown with 19, just ahead of Gavin Devine on 18 and Danny Hussain and Liz Gerrard on 17. Top team was the Roberts Family with 23. Simon, Sue and Will Cole scored 22, The Penmans 21, Lou and Joe Williams and Bruce and Sarah Hayward 20. Here is this week’s newsquiz. As usual there are 25 questions about the week’s news. Give it a go and let me know how you get on. 

Today's front pages

1. Figures from the Office for National Statistics this week showed the number of excess deaths in the UK since the coronavirus outbreak began had passed what figure? 
2. Under new Government guidelines which of these will we not be able to do from July 4? a) visit a theme park b) watch a film at a cinema c) get a haircut d) go for a swim at a pool.
3. Wedding ceremonies for up to how many people are allowed to go ahead from July 4?
4. Which town’s council declared ‘a major incident’ saying it was forced to instigate a multi-agency emergency response to tackle issues ranging from overcrowding on the beaches, traffic gridlock and violence. 
5. Who tested positive for Covid-19 and then apologised, saying: 'I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm’?
6. Care Minister Helen Whately found herself in the headlines for saying which group of people 'are not deemed to be providing a service’?
7. Khairi Saadallah, 25, who was arrested following the stabbing to death of three men in a park in Reading, is a national of which country?
8. What was the name of the park in Reading where three men were stabbed to death?
9. Liverpool were crowned Premier League champions on Thursday night - their first top-flight title since what year?
10. Why was 24-year-old Jake Hepple dismissed from his role as a welder at Lancashire-based Paradigm Precision?
11. Housing secretary Robert Jenrick came under pressure to resign after for his role in a controversial £1billion development that was proposed by which Conservative Party donor?
12. A father and his two children was killed after being hit by a car while out for a Father’s Day walk with their dog in which county?
13. Why was the Pitsmoor Hotel in Sheffield stripped of its licence? 
14. What was the name of the 34-year-old jockey, who rode 100-1 shot Mon Mome to win the 2009 Grand National, who died this week?
15. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey from which shadow cabinet position, saying she shared an article containing an anti-Semitic conspiracy?
16. Which Conservative MP issued a personal statement saying: 'Unfortunately I have been diagnosed with breast cancer’?
17. What is the name of the company, that owns shopping centres including Manchester's Trafford Centre and Lakeside in Essex, which said it was likely to call in administrators after failing to agree a financial restructuring plan?
18. Rose Paterson, who died aged 63, was married to Conservative MP Owen Paterson and was chairman of which racecourse?
19. Thursday was officially the hottest day of the year with the Met Office saying temperatures exceeded how many degrees at Heathrow Airport?
20. Film producer Steve Bing, 55, who was found dead in Los Angeles, was the father to which actress’s 18-year-old son?
21. Which song, believed to have been written by Wallace Willis who was a slave in southern America, is under review at sporting stadiums?
22. Which vehicle, that launched in 2001 and promised to revolutionise personal transport, will come to the end of the road when production stops on July 15?
23. Manchester United became the first team in the Premier League to do what in their game against Sheffield United?
24. Hospital consultant Clare Bradley collected what title this week?
25. Netflix tweeted to say that 'exactly 20 years to the day since the original was released’ there would be a sequel to what animated film, with production beginning in 2021?

Answers here

Friday, 19 June 2020

Have a crack at this week's newsquiz

The top scorer in last week’s newsquiz was Sam Neve with 21, just ahead of Alan Geere on 19, Janet Boyle and Georgia Simcox on 18 and Toby Brown and Tom Savage on 17.  The top teams were Simon, Sue and Will Cole and The Penmans who both scored 23. Other good team scores were Adam Batstone and Lucy Thorpe and The Roberts Family with 19, Bruce and Sarah Hayward on 18 and Maura and Phil Parsons on 17. Here is this week’s newsquiz. As usual there are 25 questions about the week’s events. Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Today's front pages
Today's front pages 

1. Dame Vera Lynn, who died this week, was born in which year?
2. The Government made a U-turn and agreed to provide what for some of England’s poorest families after a campaign by Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford?
3. What reason did Health Secretary Matt Hancock give to radio station LBC for mistakenly referring to Marcus Rashford as ‘Daniel’?
4. The number of UK workers on payrolls fell by around how many thousand between March and May, according to the Office for National Statistics?
5. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the 'biggest breakthrough yet' in the coronavirus fight was an inexpensive steroid that could save up to a third of critically-ill Covid-19 patients? What is the drug called?
6. EasyJet made its first flight in more than 11 weeks on Monday - the 7am EZY883 from Gatwick - to which city, the same destination as the first flight the airline flew when it launched in 1995? 
7. At Thursday’s Downing Street briefing Health Secretary Matt Hancock, talking about the tracing app, promised to put a cherry on whose cake?
8. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, when talking about taking the knee, said: 'Maybe it’s got a broader history but it seems to be taken from the ___ ___ ___. Feels to me like a symbol of subjugation and subordination, rather than one of liberation and emancipation’. What are the missing three words?
9. The governing body of which Oxford University college said it wanted to remove the controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes?
10. Premier League football returned with all players sporting what three words on the back of their shirts?
11. Why was Andrew Banks, 28, from Stansted jailed for two weeks by Westminster magistrates?
12. A white police officer who shot Rayshard Brooks, who was black, twice in the back faces 11 charges, including murder, in which US city?
13. Protective boarding around the statue of Sir Winston Churchill in London was removed, according to a spokesman for the Mayor of London, for a visit by whom?
14. Why was personal trainer and grandfather Patrick Hutchinson in the headlines?
15. Three former prime ministers - David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Tony Blair - criticised what move by the Government?
16. The pilot of a US air force fighter plane was found dead after crashing into the North Sea off which English county?
17. Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and which other political party signed a historic coalition deal 18 weeks after the Irish general election, which could mean Micheál Martin becoming taoiseach (prime minister) by the end of June?
18. The White House is trying to prevent publication of a book, The Room Where It Happened written by an ex-National Security Adviser, saying it contains 'classified information’. What is the author’s name?
19. Who was the owner of Tactical which won the Windsor Castle Stakes at a deserted Royal Ascot on Wednesday?
20. What make of car, carrying Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was dented during a collision when a protester ran towards a convoy outside parliament?
21. The author of a 2011 autobiography, Taking a Punt on My Life (2011), in which he said 'gambling had been my downfall’, died age 66 this week. What was his name?
22. Actress Lysette Anthony quit Twitter after being branded 'actual trash' by Rachel Adedeji who left which TV soap following accusations of 'behind-the-scenes’ racism?
23. Who crashed a £250,000 Lamborghini Diablo while filming for the BBC show Top Gear in North Yorkshire?
24. Sir Ian Holm, who died age 88, played which character in Peter Jackson’s film Lord Of The Rings?
25. A former stray cat that was the central character of a best-selling book and had a 2016 film named after him died this week aged 14. What was his name?

Answers here

Friday, 12 June 2020

Time to tackle the newsquiz

The top solo scorer in last week’s newsquiz was Toby Brown with 21, narrowly ahead of Molly Clayton on 20, Tom Savage 18 and Gavin Devine 17. A special shout-out goes to Ian McCulloch, who posts a score each week but rarely gets a mention, for a personal best of 16. The top teams were Maura and Phil Parsons and the Coles family (Simon, Sue and Will) who both scored 23. The Penmans and Adam Batstone and Lucy Thorpe scored 21, Danny, Matt and Barney got 20 and Sam, Thom, Harry and Shannon 19.5. Here is this week’s newsquiz. As usual there are 25 questions about the week’s events. Give it a go and let me know how you get on. 

A selection of today's front pages

1. What was the name of the slave trader whose statue was toppled by protesters in Bristol and thrown into the River Avon?
2. A statue of Robert Baden-Powell, who founded the Scouts movement, is to be boarded-up in which town to protect it from possible attacks?
3. Home Secretary Priti Patel, pointing out she would not take lectures on racism, sexism, tolerance or social justice, said she was racially abused in the playground, in the street and been advised to do what 'in order to advance her career’?
4. George Floyd was described as a mentor whose death sparked a global reckoning over police brutality and racial prejudice at his funeral in which US city?
5. Who pledged £10 million over the next ten years to UK organisations, charities and movements tackling racial inequality, supporting justice reform and black empowerment?
6. Which brand tweeted ‘we stand against racism’ and told a far-right vlogger ‘please don’t buy our tea again’?
7. Which comedy series, that featured a Caribbean woman called Desiree and a mail-order bride named Ting Tong, 
was removed from BBC iPlayer, Netflix and BritBox with the BBC saying 'times have changed' since it first aired’?
8. Who made a tearful public apology saying: 'I just want to say sorry for any upset I caused whether I was Michael Jackson, Craig David or Trisha Goddard’?
9. The UK's economy shrank by what per cent in April - the largest monthly fall on record?
10. Under new ‘bubble’ announcements by Boris Johnson on Wednesday which of these people will be breaking the law next week?  a) Grandparents visiting their married daughter and two grandchildren b) A woman living with her parents but staying over with her boyfriend who lives alone c) A single mother with three children sharing childcare with a friend in a similar position. 
11. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he was 'working to bring all children back to school’ by when?
12. An initiative, supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, is encouraging people to celebrate the NHS's 72nd birthday and thank key workers for their support with a nationwide clap and minute’s silence on what date?
13. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern said she celebrated that there were no active cases of Covid-19 in her country by doing what?
14. Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said Britain's new quarantine measures would cause 'untold damage' to the tourism industry and said they were 'designed by Dominic Cummings for whom?
15. Iceland supermarket helped Chester Zoo, which is facing huge debts as a result of coronavirus, by adopting its entire collection of which creatures?
16. Which company announced plans to cut 10,000 jobs following a global slump in demand for its product because of coronavirus with chief executive Bernard Looney telling staff that ‘we are spending much, much more than we make - I am talking millions of dollars, every day’?
17. Which former Government adviser said coronavirus deaths in the UK would have been halved if lockdown had been introduced one week earlier?
18. Which ‘homeless' football team were League 1 champions after clubs voted to end the season because of coronavirus, with promotion and relegation decided according to points per game?
19. Harry Potter author JK Rowling was embroiled in a row over transgender people after she tweeted: 'People who ____. I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’ What is the missing word? 
20. US attorney Geoffrey Berman said who had 'yet again sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to co-operate with an ongoing federal criminal investigation’?
21. What is the name of the company that owns British Gas which announced it was to cut 5,000 jobs by removing three layers of management?
22. Why was Tottenham midfielder Dele Alli suspended for one match by the Football Association, fined £50,000 and ordered to undertake an education course?
23. A photograph of the Duke of Edinburgh with the Queen, standing side by side in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle, was released to mark his birthday this week. How old is he?
24. A 69-year-old American singer called Bonnie, who died this week, was a founding member of which family group that had UK Top Ten hits in the 80s with Slow Hand and Jump (For My Love)? 
25. The new design for what was revealed this week with chief executive Jim Ryan saying ‘we kind of felt it would be nice to provide a design that would really grace most living areas’?

Answers here

Friday, 5 June 2020

Time to tackle the newsquiz

The top scorers in last week’s newsquiz were Hannah Tomes and Janet Boyle, both with 20, just ahead of Toby Brown and Siân Brewis on 19. The top team was Maura and Phil Parsons with an impressive 23. The Penmans and the Roberts Family scored 22, Thom, Sam, Shannon and Harry 21 and Simon, Sue and Will Cole 20. Here is this week’s quiz. As usual there are 25 questions about the last seven days. Give it a go and let me know how you get on.  

A selection of today's front pages

1. US President Donald Trump was accused of ‘fanning the flames’ after he tweeted which seven-word phrase originally used by a Miami police chief during a ‘get-tough policy' on black protesters in the 1960s?
2. Bishop Michael Curry, who delivered the sermon at Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle, accused President Donald Trump of using what item for 'partisan political purposes’?
3. US defence secretary Mark Esper said he opposed Donald Trump’s threat to use the 1807 Insurrection Act to allow what?
4. What is the name of the Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with second degree murder over the death of George Floyd?
5. The chairman of Kick It Out, Sanjay Bhandari, urged every Premier League footballer to do what, 
when the season resumes, in protest against the killing of George Floyd?
6. Cabinet minister Alok Sharma 'sniffled, sweated and snorted' through a Commons statement, wiping his brow and blowing his nose, before self-isolating for coronavirus. What is his Cabinet position?
7. What did Conservative MP Steve Baker say was ‘a farce’, Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, call 'a disaster’ and opposition Chief Whip Nick Brown describe as the 'Rees-Mogg conga’?
8. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced that face coverings will be 'a condition of travel’ on public transport in England from what date?
9. Government scientific advisers avoided commenting on the Dominic Cummings affair except for one who, when asked whether people in authority should set an example, said: 'In my opinion the rules are clear and they have always been clear. In my opinion they are for the benefit of all. In my opinion they apply to all.' Who was he?
10. Why did more than 1,000 people snake around a car park in Warrington on Monday morning?
11. Premier League teams will be allowed to make five substitutions in the remaining games of the season but how many subs will be allowed on the bench?
12. A survey by King's College London found that six in ten Britons were suffering from what since lockdown began?
13. Police were forced to close a packed beach when four people were injured, three seriously, after cliff jumping at Durdle Door in which county?
14. TV presenter Kate Garraway gave a tearful interview about her husband's 68 days in hospital fighting coronavirus. What is his name (forename and surname)?
15. The foreign minister of which European country said anyone in the UK thinking of visiting this summer will be 'most welcome’?
16. What is the name of the German paedophile and drug trafficker who is the prime suspect in the Madeleine McCann case?
17. German police released photos of two vehicles which are believed to be linked to a man suspected of the murder of Madeleine McCann. What were they? Half a point for each.
18. Emma Tullett said her family was ‘devastated' after their house, named Cliff Hanger, fell on to a beach on which island following a cliff collapse?
19. Why was Zodiakos in the sporting headlines?
20. Michael Angelis, who died age 76, took over which role from Ringo Starr in 1991?
21. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge filed legal action against which magazine after it published claims including that Kate felt 'exhausted and trapped' in the Royal Family?
22. Love Island contestants Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury found themselves at the centre of a controversy over third-party dog imports after their Pomeranian died soon after it was flown in from which country?
23. Steve Priest, who died age 72, was the bassist and vocalist with which glam rock band that had 13 top 20 hits in the 1970s?
24. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken announced during a live broadcast from space that they were giving what name to their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule? 
25. The Bafta nominations were announced this week with which mini-series leading the TV awards with 14 nominations?

Answers here

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

A meander through six decades of Northern life

Mike Amos's book is published this week

I learned a lot about my native North-East this week. I found out that American pop idol Del Shannon, who topped the charts with Runaway in 1961, was once turned away from a Shildon workingman’s club where he was the star turn - because he didn’t have a ticket.
I read about how Ronnie ‘Rubberbones’ Heslop used a teaspoon to become the first man to escape over the wall at Durham Jail.
And I discovered that Prince Harry, under the name of Spike W, played cricket at Spout House in North Yorkshire.
All of these fascinating nuggets - and many, many more - were found in journalist Mike Amos’s book Unconsidered Trifles which has just landed on my desk.

If there was ever a journalist who needed to write an autobiography, it is Mike. 
He spent 55 years working in the same newspaper office. That isn't a typo - it really was 55 years. I can’t think of any other journalist who has stayed at the same paper for a working lifetime and a half! All of this is even more remarkable when you consider he has never been able to drive and is as short-sighted as Mr Magoo.
Mike's career began when he joined The Northern Echo straight from school, in the former pit-town of Shildon, in 1965 for a weekly wage of £9 1s 6d. He wrote his last column just before Christmas last year. He collected more than 40 awards, including an MBE for services to journalism, and in 2006 was named in the Regional Press's Hall of Fame - the 40 people who had made the most significant contribution to regional journalism in the last 40 years.
When I turned up at the Echo in 1979 Mike, already 14 years in, was news-editor. It was clear, though, that his real strength was as a story-getter and writer. He mainly wrote columns - John North, Gadfly, Backtrack, Eating Owt, At Your Service - about the extraordinary characters of North-East life. His stories were picked up in pubs, at football matches and on buses - and always told in a compelling and colourful way.
Now he has wrapped up the best of them in a 390-page meander through six decades of Northern life. Football gets a good show, which is hardly surprising given Mike was chairman of the Northern League for 20 years.
I particularly like the story about meeting Paul Gascoigne over pints and cheese toasties in the Newcastle Arms after a chance conversation with a taxi driver, who also happened to be Gazza’s agent. Mike has long convinced me that reporters cocooned in their cars, rather than taxis, buses, trains and quite often Shanks's pony, miss so many stories. 
Another well-known character, George Reynolds. gets a chapter all to himself. Reynolds was a small time safe-blower who became the millionaire chairman and owner of Darlington Football club. His encounters with Cynthia Payne, aka Madame Cyn, and unlikely chart toppers Peters and Lee are worth a read.

A full chapter is devoted to Shildon character George Reynolds
One of Mike’s strengths as a writer was that he was rarely in the office. It was a time when the best newsroom was an empty newsroom …  the stories were out there, not at your desk. That said, the book does touch on some of the newsroom antics and captures the 70s and 80s drinking culture of newspapers. There are plenty of anecdotes that resulted from the 'lunchtime liverners’. Job interviews for reporters were also usually in the pub 'because that seemed to be more relaxing'. Mike remembers one such interview was given to Peter Barron, a young applicant from the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph, who 'had heard about this unusual practice and was worried. He wasn’t much of a drinking man. Could he stand the prospective pace?
'Much to his consternation, Pete was unable to finish his third – or was it the fourth? – pint. It didn’t count against him: I admired his enthusiasm and local knowledge and recommended his appointment.’ 
Peter got the job, went on to edit the paper for 19 years, and was also awarded an MBE. Maybe the industry should bring back the pub interviews … they clearly worked. Peter later said of Mike that he had more impact and influence on the Echo than any of its great editors, including Sir Harold Evans. 

The Despatch newsroom with reporters Neil Hacking, Glyn Middleton, John Dean, Kathy Cook and Ged Clarke 

The book brought back many memories for me. One was of the late Evening Despatch, where I was chief sub, and its closure in 1986. Another was the Ales in The Dales - a regular event where all the male hacks loaded on to a coach for a tour of the best pubs in the Yorkshire Dales. The women went on a Gins in the Inns and we met up in Barnard Castle in the evening. The picture in the book is before my time but I recognise most of the faces. My stag do and 30th birthday were both coach trips round the dales with darts, dominoes, pool and fastest pint trophies. Happy days.

The famous Ales in the Dales
Mike also mentions the Britannia in Darlington - the office pub - run by the inimitable Pat and Amy Kilfeather.  He says that it was 'so traditional that on the second Sunday before Easter they still served carlins, cooked memorably with butter and onions, atop the bar. Pat was a usually genial Irishman but with a tendency for refusing to serve folk without obvious reason. He wasn’t obliged to give one, of course, but gum chewers had no chance.'
After 55 years working the same patch … Mike knew everyone, the famous and the everyday folk, with a story to tell. There are snippets about Tony Blair, the Bishop of Durham, Bobby Robson, Arthur Scargill and the royal family - but mainly the book deals with the remarkable tales of characters such as the Demon Donkey Dropper of Eryholme, John ‘Basher’ Alderson, the Horden pitman who went on to feature in 150 films, and the magnificent world-record breaking athlete Sharon Gayter. 

Mike and his wife Sharon at Garsdale railway station - possibly Mike's favourite place on earth
Perhaps the story that tells us the most about Mike is that when he took his family - wife Sharon and sons Adam and Owen - to Buckingham Palace to receive his MBE he didn’t book a table at the Savoy or the Ivy. Instead they had pie and chips in a pub called the Coal Hole. ‘It seemed somehow appropriate’, he said. Indeed it does. 

Unconsidered Trifles: Memories Of A Jobbing Journalist by Mike Amos (and designed by my old chief sub Jon Smith) is available on Amazon here. You can also order a hardback copy for £22, or paperback for £10, plus postage directly from Mike on Mike will be happy to sign your copy.

Friday, 29 May 2020

This week's newsquiz ... 25 questions

The top solo scorer in last week’s newsquiz was Sam Neve with 21, narrowly ahead of Findus on 20, Rob Lawrence and Toby Brown both scored 18. The top team was Sue, Simon and Will Cole 22, ahead of Bruce and Sarah Hayward on 20 and Thom, Sam, Shannon and Harry with 19.5. The Penmans and Phil and Maura Parsons both scored 19. Here is this week’s newsquiz. As usual there are 25 questions about the week’s events. Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Some of today's front pages
1. Asked about his trip to Barnard Castle on April 12, Downing Street advisor Dominic Cummings said: 'I wasn't sightseeing. My wife was very worried, particularly as my ___ seemed to have been affected.’ What is the missing word?
2. The Reverend Martin Poole from Brighton, at the Downing Street press conference on Tuesday, asked Health Secretary Matt Hancock to 'look at’ reviewing what?
3. The Government launched an investigation into the official Twitter account for the Civil Service when a tweet appeared, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s defence of Dominic Cummings, which said: ‘Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine having to work with these ___ ___.’ What are the two missing words?
4. What is the name of the Scotland Office minister who resigned, saying Dominic Cummings's defence of his trip to County Durham was 'not shared by the vast majority of people’?
5. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, appearing before the Commons Liaison Committee, used what phrase five times in 20 minutes, as he faced questions from select committee chairs about Dominic Cummings?
6. At Thursday’s briefing Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced an easing of the lockdown … but scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned people to be cautious pointing out there were still around how many new cases of coronavirus a week in the UK?
7. Who did Katie Razzall replace this week?
8. The Government announced plans to reopen some businesses from June 15. Which of these is not included in the plans: a) Clothing and shoe shops  b) hairdressers c) bookshops d) auction houses?
9. Founder Annemarie Plas said it would be a good time for what to end, saying she shared 'the opinions that some people have about it becoming politicised’?
10. A hospital in which town stopped accepting new patients due to the high number of coronavirus cases 'to maintain patient and staff safety’?
11. The FA Cup quarter-finals have been rescheduled for the weekend of June 27-28 with the Cup Final final due to take place on what date?
12. Which European country’s Prime Minister announced that bars, cafes and restaurants would be allowed to open from Tuesday saying ‘freedom will become the rule, bans the exception’?
13. What was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, with organisers saying that instead they would give bursaries of £10,000 to help ten artists at this 'exceptionally difficult time’?
14. Which company announced it will close its factory in Barcelona with the loss of about 2,800 jobs, prompting hundreds of workers to protest by burning tyres and blockading the site?
15. Which company announced plans to cut up to 30 per cent of its workforce, 4,500 employees, saying it does not expect demand to reach 2019 levels until 2023?
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar issued a statement saying he 'broke no laws, breached no regulations and observed public health guidance’ after photos emerged of him doing what?
17. The funeral of law student Aya Hachem, 19, who was killed in a drive-by shooting in Blackburn took place in which country?
18. Protests erupted in which US city after a white police officer was filmed kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a black man, who later died?
19. Whose social media post was hidden by Twitter with a warning that said: ’This Tweet violated the Twitter rules about glorifying violence’?
20. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he was considering extending the rights of British National Overseas passport holders’ from where so that they can visit the UK for 12 months, leading to a pathway for future citizenship?
21. Irish actor Tony Scannell, who died age 74, found fame playing Ted Roach for nine years until 1993 in which TV series?
22. Bad weather stopped Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley from going where on Wednesday?
23. The world’s oldest man, Bob Weighton, from Alton in Hampshire died this week at what age?
24. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, being interviewed live on television during an earthquake, said: 'Quite a decent shake here, but if you see things moving behind me, the ____moves more than most.' What is the missing word?
25. JK Rowling announced she was publishing daily instalments of a new children's book on her website for free. What is the book called?

Answers here