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Book Review

Book Review: by Lang Reid

No Mummy, No Money

The 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 [email protected]