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Book Review: by Lang Reid
No Mummy, No Money
review this week is from another Chiang Mai writer, Bob Andrews, who hails
from the Writer’s Club. Bob has previously written that wonderful little
satirical piece called “Boom Boom Baby”, which if you haven’t read, and you
come from the UK, you must go and read immediately!
Author Andrews has decided to come clean and blow the lid on his
(mis)adventures as a newspaper columnist in Europe, a span of over 30 years.
In that time he has worked for many publications, from ones with good
reputations, to others more aptly described as ‘rags’. The subtitle to the
book says it all “Confessions of a chequebook journalist”.
The first chapters relate to padding and sometimes falsifying expense
accounts, with some of the more daring ones being the buying of a complete
book of blank taxi receipts from an agreeable taxi driver. Bob became adept
at writing on the receipts in different handwriting.
The following chapter reveals that ‘freelancers’ are really ‘freeloaders’
and how one hack was even given a gold Rolex as part of the sweetener to
interview an Arab sheik.
Bob Andrews, as is the norm for longtime journalists, has been able to meet
many famous people, and those that he didn’t actually meet could always be
written about later. A good imagination helps, and Bob Andrews obviously had
one. His series on Mick Jagger went for some weeks. Unfortunately, he never
met Mick, but did meet the woman he danced with in a nightclub. There was
enough innuendo from that to bring in enough money to keep the cheques
coming for a month.
War correspondents have an arduous and dangerous life at the frontline. Not
always so, as this book reveals. Reports can be written from many kilometers
away from the action, and with a good network of informants, the final item
you read in your newspaper will sound factual - even if it isn’t! Bob
Andrews relates how a travel writer admitted that he was not actually going
to the destination, he would write it all from phone calls and the internet!
Page 71 offers the origin of the name of the book, and I am not going to
reveal this to you, but does involve severed hands and university
professors. See, I’m almost a journalist myself. “Professor admits to using
severed hands in experiments!”
This book really does take the covers off the journalist’s ‘profession’, and
explains just how some of those shattering headlines make it on to page 2.
(Presuming page 1 is reasonably factual.) However, if you ever read “Bus
plunge” about a bus load of pilgrims falling into a ravine in India, don’t
believe it. It is an item that was (is) used to fill a hole on page 2. (That
is not in Bob Andrews’ book – it is one that I know of from my previous days
in the industry.)
The book is available directly from the publishers, The Writers Club, 141/3
Ratchadamnoen Road, Chiang Mai and has an RRP of B. 250. If you live outside
Chiang Mai, you can always write to The Writers Club or email
Chiangmai Mail Publishing Co. Ltd.
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