Two-handed exercise

When Jenks landed a Grand Prix reporting contract, he needed a colleague in Fleet Street. In stepped WB…

When Denis Jenkinson (Jenks, as we knew him) had established himself as the renowned reporter of continental races, a well-known newspaper contacted him to ask if he would report the Grand Prix races for them. To this he agreed, and as they needed someone in their office to receive his reports he asked me if I could co-operate by being in their office to receive his telephone calls. Consequently I would leave Hampshire after tea on a Sunday and arrive at London’s Fleet Street area where the newspaper’s office was located.

The first time I did this I left my car in a no-parking place and went in to report that I had arrived. The receptionist sitting at an enormous desk told me just to give him the registration number of my car and the police would take no notice of where and for how long it was parked. Somewhat dubious, I did this and when leaving much later that evening I noticed several cars with parking tickets on them but similarly parked cars without, the latter obviously being those of the newspaper’s staff.

On the first occasion when I arrived to await DSJ’s phone call I was shown into a vast empty office and had some difficulty in discovering how a typewriter could be raised from a flat desk. Having resolved this I would await the designated time to phone DSJ to take down what he had to tell me about the Grand Prix, after which we would have a long conversation about other matters. I would write a concise report of what he had told me and then shout “Boy” into the telephone and my copy would be taken down to the compositors.

On one occasion the newspaper’s telephone exchange had no record of where I had to phone. I was asked to wait and after a long time a man arrived saying he had forgotten to leave the telephone number I should call. He was very worried and asked if I knew what DSJ looked like or if I knew where he might be, as we might be able to locate him. This proved of no avail and he departed a very troubled member of the newspaper’s staff, and I drove home to no avail, unable to write the GP report.

While waiting for the telephone number, three people had rushed in to the office wanting to find a photograph of a driver called Monkhouse who had been killed during a race; I was relieved to know that this was no one I knew personally. They began to look through the photographs and held up one saying “here’s the one we want”. I looked across and realised it was another driver with the same name but not the one they required. I informed them that this was not the picture they were looking for but was of another driver with the same name. I then explained that I was waiting to receive a report of the GP race. They took not the slightest notice and left with the wrong photograph.