A few weeks ago, my writing buddy, Helen, invited me to accompany her on a visit to Bargoed Library to look at archived newspapers as part of some research for her novel. The library is housed in an old chapel and what struck me when we entered the building was how well they'd preserved the heritage of the place. Beautiful wooden panelling and high vaulted ceilings have been retained along with the organ pipes and even the organist's chair. In the basement, you will find the original altar and pews. Everything sits well against the modern colourful areas of a busy library.
|The Theology Room|
We noticed straight away that the language of the reporting was very different. It was narrative rather than journalistic and the vocabulary was quite 'flowery' and often formal. The text on the page was very dense, in a tiny font and would take considerable effort to read each article. For example, The prisoners were charged with that on the 15th December they did feloniously and burgulariously break and enter the dwellinghouse of one John Edwards, of No.20, Glancynon Terrace, Aberaman, and steal certain articles therefrom.
Each edition had news from the local regions and a regular gossip column. I thought readers may like to read this entry. An American whose wife presented him with twin daughters, decided to call them, Kate and Duplicate. Several years later twins were again born into the family - this time boys, who were duly named Peter and Repeater. When this pair were followed by a third, the father was not found unprepared. As they were boys also, he named them Max and Climax. The column was signed POLONIUS. I'll let you make your own mind up about this snippet of gossip!!
Helen's novel is a ghost story, involving a six year old child who died as a result of a traffic accident in 1906. She searched for news of motor accidents at the time and was lucky enough to find one. The way the announcement was worded will help her edit her version of events and give the writing more authenticity. She also looked at the way announcements of deaths and coroner's court reports were worded.
I was looking at crimes just after the war. There were many cases of drink related incidents and thefts. The headings alone could provide a rich source of materials for short stories. Here is a selection:
- No Shillings, No Candles But He Had Light - a man fraudulently diverted electricity by inserting wire into his meter. He was fined £3-00.
- Blamed The Kids - a man allowed a horse to stray and was fined 5s., claiming he was at work so his children must have let the horse out.
- Bad Language - a man fine 10s. for having used indecent language. What would magistrates think of things today, I wonder?
- Wrecked Wife's Home, Beat Up Her Brother - man fined £5-00 or 29 days imprisonment for assaulting his brother-in-law after committing damage to windows, pictures and furniture. Ordered to pay £10-00 compensation.
- One Mistake, Three Fined - three men, charged with stealing coal from railway goods wagons, waited until 11.30 at night. Magistrate: You chose a strange time to look for coal. One of the men: To tell you the truth, it's the only time we think the police may be around the pubs. Magistrate: You made a mistake then. The inference is that you've done this before. They were fined 40s. each for stealing 24s. worth of coal.
|Steve was a great help|
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