THIS ISLAND LIFE NEWSPAPER offices are well-known as repositories of dark humour — which is why I’ve enjoyed working in them for so long.
Indeed, a resident cynic is as important to the effective functioning of a newsroom as a telephone or computer keyboard.
But even little things can amuse busy minds and help bring light relief to periods of stress.
For example, whenever a trainee reporter joined the staff at the Chichester Observer, we used to wait until he or she had left the newsroom during the busiest part of deadline day before slipping a note on to their computer keyboard.
It always read: 'Mr C. Lyon called. He wants you to ring him back on this number straight away.’
When the young victim returned, usually frazzled and distracted, and snatched up the message, the room fell silent while the call was made.
The conversation at the Chichester end usually went like this: 'Hello. Could I speak to Mr C. Lyon please?
'What? Really? Sorry to have bothered you.’
There then followed a variety of expletives as the receiver was replaced amid hoots of derisive laughter. The number he or she had been asked to ring was London Zoo.
I was reminded of this juvenile, but oddly pleasing prank, while enjoying the civilised little spat which developed on the County Press website earlier this week.
This newspaper, to its credit, insists everyone dispensing their opinions, on line and off, should be prepared to do so under their real name.
La Hofton and I can both vouch for the fact it’s far more satisfying (and honourable) to stab people in the front, than firing off poisoned arrows from the depths of the cyber undergrowth.
So, when Major Blunder had his say on the school league tables, the webmaster realised this was right up there with Corporal Punishment and Private Parts as a genuine military name, and acted accordingly.
But after his comment had been removed, the Major politely observed the same fate had not befallen fellow contributor Clover Meadows and asked: 'Who’s next? Teresa Green?’
He then added that because a name sounded 'normal’, it didn’t necessarily mean it was genuine.
This is a good point, because another regular in this fertile section of the CP website is a certain Lee Majors.
It may well be, of course, that a Mr and Mrs Majors really did name their boy child after The Six Million Dollar Man.
After all, a mate of mine swears he once went to school with a girl called Annette Kerton, and then there was the BBC correspondent, allegedly called Chanda Lear, whose name popped up on screen last year.
In the meantime, I shall be monitoring the CP’s on-line contributors, to see if Barb Dywer, Zoltan Pepper, Joe King, Justin Case, Lisa House and Hugh Jarse make an appearance.
Heidi Clare would also raise a suspicious eyebrow.
But there always a chance Den could get married again on the quiet — so the job’s not as straightforward as it first appears.
Music memories lined up
From left, Martyn Ford, Keith Roberts, Jonnie Barnard, Cass Caswell and Brian Sharpe.
THIS photograph of some rock’n’roll tyros knocking out a trendy tune in the salubrious confines of Gurnard WI hall well over 50 years ago will bring back some bitter-sweet memories.
On the left is the late Martyn Ford (one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet), and from the left are Keith Roberts, Jonnie Barnard, Cass Caswell and Brian Sharpe.
Jonnie also died at the tragically young age of 21 but two of the others (Keith and Brian) will once again be proving age has not wearied them by joining forces with Dougie Watson to provide another great night of music nostalgia at Lower Hyde next Saturday (February 9).
Brian, who sent me the picture, said: "This is a pick-up band from Sandown Grammar and we were sitting down in order to emulate Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps on their first LP.
"Note also how Martyn and I, ever slaves to fashion, are sporting the latest identical suede shoes.
"In retrospect, I don’t think we quite achieved the degree of coolness we were seeking …
"We had swapped guitars for a few numbers and Martyn is playing his dad, Laurie’s, sumptuous Hofner President, which he had generously lent me.
"I later acquired a futuristic shark-shaped guitar which was made by the talented Cherokees founder-member, Mick Horne, who went on to assist in the design of the Thrust land speed record vehicles."
So it’s all over to Lower Hyde next Saturday, where the music and the memories begin at 8pm.
Tickets can be acquired from Ladies Realm, Sandown, Shanklin and Ryde, and Bernards Shoe Shop, Newport.