I often assume that I'm a cynical dried up old hag, thinking I know every trick in the book.
But once in a while even I can be taken by surprise.
A few weeks ago Norman Lebrecht wrote some article for the Sub-standard about the Festival Hall. I was contacted by someone on the Standard inviting me to write a letter to the said Standard commenting on Lebrecht's article. He explained that he had seen me refer to the Festival Hall on this 'ere blog, and, not unreasonably, thought I might have an opinion. He didn't actually know that I had given the Planning Permisssion, but nevertheless he used his nous and gumption and found my number in the Phone Book (I know it's not difficult, but it's beyond the capabilities of many highly educated people...!)
He stroked my ego and I sort of agreed to writing something, then things got in the way, you know real life time-consuming mundanity, too banal to even recall now.
The other day I received the following email:
This is name removed emailing from the Letters page of the Evening Standard. Hope you've been well since we last spoke about the South Bank; just getting in touch the to ask whether you might be interested in responding our story yesterday about Lynne Featherstone MP and her advice to Liberal Democrats to become councillors so that they can hire a cleaner. Please let me know if you might be and I understand completely if you're not! I'm particularly interested in the social mores of her suggestion and Featherstone's response that it is all about the situation many working single mothers find themselves in.
I think there is a story there. And his approach was measured, unobtrusive. But why commission, unpaid, a washed-up former councillor to tell the story, when a novice reporter, on relatively low pay, could sit and work through the publicly available list of current councillors in London, phoning them, asking for a soundbite, and turning it into a researched story I'm shocked at this soliciting letters for a letters' page that I assume most readers assume is filled mainly with spontaneous unsolicitied letters from random readers as well as identifiable formal responses from named individuals in well-known organisations.
For the record, my response follows in the next post. In the unlikely event of any publication wishing to pay me for an article, my phone number is in the book, and I will discuss terms...