THE DICTATOR (Autobiography 40)

The News and Views was the title of the newspaper we produced at Crossways during 1962 when I was thirteen. Although the project was highly educational, giving us an insight into the world of journalism, it was entirely extra curricular and was all done without help from the teaching staff. It was all our own idea and we had to dream up the content all by ourselves. I have found up a note-book with some jottings about our attempts at journalism that may interest some of you. For a start there was verse; this was my speciality. news and views 1036       There was a page of criticism, an Agony Column, a Jokes Page, Editorial, School News and even a Woman’s Page! Considering that in those days Gresham’s was an almost exclusively male environment, with only an occasional female member of the teaching staff (and one or two girls from Runton Hill who wanted to do a science A level which their school was not able to provide) this was rather extraordinary. I gather that newspapers no longer included a Women’s Page but they were common in 1962. Cartoons and comic strips were popular with both the journalists and readership. The format was quite small, being made from quarto paper folded into four. I think the newspaper came out about once a fortnight, which would have been four or five times a term.

The paper certainly wasn’t printed; it wasn’t even typed (typewriters were not used by the school, not even in the headmaster’s office I am pretty sure). The front cover sometimes included some colour (but just one, not full colour), otherwise it was all do in black (or more likely blue) pen. Because it was all written in longhand there was only one copy; photocopiers were unheard of. Back issues were stuck in an exercise book and kept in the library for reference, and they were often viewed. The News and Views was challenged by a rival newspaper – the Roundabout. It was very similar but the News and Views was the first, and it was the first paper I was involved with, although I didn’t originate it. We regarded the Roundabout as an upstart; whereas the Roundabout production team regarded us as old hat.

There were four or five journalists on each paper and only about 40 in the audience, which was made up exclusively of Crossways boys; but as almost half of them were dayboys who disappeared home instead of joining in the life of the boarders (including reading the house newspapers), the actual readership for the two papers was about equal to the number of journalists. news and views 2037               The News and Views had folded by the end of 1962 but it was succeeded by another journal, the Dictator. This I was very closely involved with from the start. The name was based on such nationals as the Spectator and the Observer, but while those journals suggested the views of an interested bystander, the Dictator was obviously authoritarian in outlook. It was clearly tongue-in-cheek because, whatever our pretensions, we had no power to dictate anything to anyone. The Dictator is fondly remembered by my colleague on the editorial staff, Benny Young, who I met for the first time in 47 years at a school reunion last autumn. I had forgotten all about the Dictator, and it was Benny who reminded me. He was with me in Crossways and then in Farfield, so we alone knew each other throughout our school careers. But on leaving Gresham’s he went to Cambridge and we lost touch.




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