The Tears of a Clown

Now if there's a smile upon my face…

The Sunday Post

I often ponder the future of the traditional newspaper in this day and age. Fears for the future of printed matter generally have usually been unfounded, people will seemingly always want to read books rather than stare at a screen but for me newspapers are presented with different problems. In particular in appealing to those of us who’s only desire is normally to gain the news rather than education and/or entertainment from their daily read.

There’s something crisp and tactile about a good broadsheet. It can be somehow comforting and reassuring to be presented with all those sections of lengthy, involved reading come a Sunday when there just may be that window of opportunity in our busy lives to sit, relax and read. I barely do it these days personally but I certainly remember the time when I did with some pleasure. For the past ten years my Internet usage has steadily eroded my reading of newspapers though certainly not books conversely. The latter remaining one of the great pleasures of my life.

Use of the Internet has led me to to skim my news from the BBC in particular, and to some degree online versions of The Guardian, The Nottingham Evening Post and The Edinburgh Evening News. amongst others. On a personal note the Internet, often accompanied by listening to the radio also claims many of the entertainment hours I once spent reading newspapers. Newspapers have for the most part been squeezed out of my priorities.

It’s not a broadsheet I want to talk about today but rather a newspaper that was an institution in the home I was brought up in and in many others all over the world, The Sunday Post. Printed by D C Thompson of Dundee, the paper was a clarion call for Scots all over the world at one time of day and our home was no different. A breath of home and a reassuring recharge of the batteries for the sons and daughters of Scotland around the globe. It had, and still has a home-spun style, one that doesn’t necessarily fit in with modern-day media and the society it preaches to, for me it was always a reminder of how things used to be.

Today ‘The Post’ is much maligned in certain quarters. Not least for its arguably reactionary style and outdated views, for those of us with links to Scotland though these were never the facets we read the paper for. As a boy, the Sunday Post would arrive in our house on Monday lunchtime – if I was sent out to fetch it from the newsagents. Otherwise it would plop through the letterbox with the Monday evening paper. In those days the Sunday Post would travel overnight by rail to points all over England and then further beyond.

It’s difficult to imagine these days but Monday evening was often my first glimpse of a report on how Hibernian FC had performed that previous Saturday. The reports would always be full of expressions such as ‘stramash’, (a racket or fight) ‘onion bag/pokey’ (the goal) and ‘skited’ (slipped). Dear old Jack Harkness always had a few profound and pithy words to summarise the action too.

Being of the right age to enjoy it (i.e. any), I would always initially and avidly devour the comic section featuring ‘Oor Wullie’ and ‘The Broons’ and their latest escapades. I still like them too. Help ma Boab!

As I grew older, some of the more mysterious parts of ‘The Sunday P’ became clearer to me. In ‘The Doc Replies’, I found new illnesses and complaints that I may have contracted – a constant source of worry to me as a teenager! Likewise it was simple to contact someone in another area of the paper to obtain that last ball of beige Arran wool that was no longer available on the High Street. Invaluable. Each week, the gentle-hearted Francis Gaye would share a heart-warming story from his personal diary. Definitely my mum’s favourite read which she would save to cherish in a quiet moment over her knitting. ‘The Hon Man’ was always up to some activity of comic or derring-do to.

Today the Sunday Post still exists. It’s possibly the older generation that still read it for a welcome glimpse into the past. It was always popular with many Scots ex-pats too. It maintains an online presence in a strictly plain and unfussy way. This won’t do for me though. The eager expectation for me was always getting my hands on that piece of ‘home’ on a Monday lunchtime. Nothing will ever replace that feeling of expectation.

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April 20, 2008 - Posted by | Ripping Yarns | , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. Hmmm, it’s a funny one. As much as I love digital media and see little future in the printed form, I still love the Sunday papers with a bacon roll and mug of tea – especially if the Hibs won on Saturday. I’ll often still be reading parts on Thursday and Friday.

    I found a pile of Broons and oor Wullie annuals in my parents house recently.

    Oh, happy days! 😉

    Comment by rich | April 21, 2008

  2. Can’t beat a bit of Broons and Oor Wullie! How old is Wullie now anyway, must be getting on a bit now?

    Comment by Stuart | April 21, 2008

  3. Oor Wullie is 72. Plus whatever age he was when that first strip appeared in 1936. Sadly the real-life inspiration for Wullie died in 1992.

    Despite my love of Oor Wullie I can’t say I have ever held any special affection for the Sunday Post in general. My later discovery of DC Thomson’s virulent anti-trade union stance to go with the retarded kailyard content of its publications certainly ensured I was never going to buy it. I make allowances for Oor Wullie and the Broons, who arguably fit quite comfortably into that content, by regarding them as the work of Dudley Watkins (even though the storylines were supplied by Post editor RD Low). And they’re cartoons, which lets you get away with a lot.

    Comment by thehiblog | April 22, 2008

  4. Hi Fraser

    Interesting articles, thanks.

    As a member and FOC of various print unions beginning with the NGA for almost thirty years I can empathise with your point. Nothing new in my old trade though as I, like others was shafted continually by various print bosses and unions alike. I have to say it was ironically actually the union that shafted me in a most spectacular way in the end.

    I guess my days reading the SP were before the age when knew anything of politics. I never did find that unique ball of wool either… Most disappointing.

    Comment by Stuart | April 22, 2008

  5. Slum life in the 1950s and 60s was poor and the poorly written Sunday Post was part of it. As I got older though I realised that many of the writers were in fact fictional. Do you realy believe there was The Doc, The Garage Man, Pete, (I haven’t seen him in a long time, if he is stil around he must be a 65 year old office boy.) The Nature Man and most famous of all The Hon Man, a glorious creation.) Anti Trade Union and anti socialist, I still read it.

    Comment by Eddie Sharpe | May 11, 2010


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