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Sunday morning news

January 6, 2020

There’s an old joke: What’s black and white and red all over? Part of the joke is that you hear one of the key words, as I’ve typed it, as “red”, when it’s actually “read”. What’s black and white and read all over? Answer: a newspaper. I was a kid when I first heard that joke. I wonder how many kids today would get the joke? I wonder how long it will be before the last real newspaper is published? News on the net may be faster and save trees, but it just ain’t the same thing.

I grew up, as I suspect most people my age did, in a newspaper household. There wasn’t a lot of money to go around, but the newspaper on the doorstep every day was considered an essential item.

When I started working, a newspaper became an essential part of my daily commute. Sometimes, depending on where I lived, the newspaper was waiting for me on the doorstep in the morning, sometimes it involved a quick stop at the newsagent’s on my way to the bus or tube, but the journey always involved a newspaper.

The king of newspapers was, of course, the Sunday paper: not just black and white and read all over, but with the addition of a magazine! (Or “colour supplement” as we used to call them.)

When I was a young journalist myself, living with a bloke named Giles, we used to get all three broadsheets (Observer for me, Sunday Telegraph for him, and the Sunday Times thrown in for good measure) delivered to our door. Sunday mornings would be spent with the newspapers spread out on the table and the sofa and the floor, devoured before we devoured our full English (minus the grilled mushrooms – yuck). After that we’d head off to the pub, stopping at the newsagent’s on the way to pick up copies of the Sunday Mirror and the News of the Screws, which we’d read with our pints of bitter, sharing the best titbits of lunacy. (Oh, those innocent days before the exploits of Z-list reality show “celebrities” filled the pages of the tabloid press and the bulk of the stories were about brave animals, naughty vicars and ’ave a go grannies.) Newspapers made Sundays the best day of the week in London.

Sundays were also great in New York. The early edition of the Sunday New York Times was always available from street vendors when you were heading home late Saturday night/early Sunday morning. The six inch tall (okay, maybe it was only three or four inches) paper would be sitting beside the bed waiting for you when you woke up on Sunday. The only reason to leave bed for hours was to fetch coffee and breakfast. Bliss.

When my partner Mike and I got together, I subscribed to the Globe and Mail (the only paper, I’d discovered first in Toronto and then in Vancouver, that offered any decent coverage of world news). Mike, paid for by the university, had a subscription to the New York Times. (One of his areas of research was analysing the complexity of speeches – and off the cuff remarks – by politicians in order, in part, to assess how they might react to given situations. In the early nineties, pre-internet, the New York Times was one of the few places to find full transcripts of speeches.) During the week I left his copies of the Times to him. I, after all, had my Globe and Mail. But on Sundays, oh, on Sundays! Whoever woke up first on Sunday morning got up and then returned to bed with steaming cups of coffee and a big, thick newspaper. It had been years since I’d had a decent Sunday paper in my life. Heaven.

Home delivery of the New York Times stopped with Gabriola (the paper went to his office instead), but by then Sunday mornings in bed with coffee and a newspaper had become a ritual. So we’d buy the Saturday Globe and Mail, but save it until Sunday morning.

The ritual continues, years after his death. I still save the Saturday Globe for Sunday morning. Occasionally, like yesterday, I only have time to skim the news section (most of which is by then old, but some still news to me) before I have to head off somewhere. So, occasionally the rest of the paper, like today, waits for Monday morning.

If I could, I would still subscribe to the Globe. There isn’t a lot of money to go around, but a newspaper on the doorstep every morning would be a lovely thing. Unfortunately – and not surprisingly – delivery on Gabriola is not an option. So I buy a copy of the Saturday paper and the rest of the week I do what most other people do – get my news online. It just ain’t the same.

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