Will the last person to leave this newspaper…

SO that’s what writing with a hangover feels like. It’s been a while. Nothing dramatic, just a rolling fuzz in my head.

The radio is on and my wife is vacuuming. I usually sit in the study but for some reason I have taken my bit of a headache downstairs to the dining table. Ah, the vacuum cleaner is off now and making that coming-into-land noise. And the Today programme has stopped shouting at me. So the laptop lament can continue.

There was another leaving do last night, for the photographers this time. The way things are going brings to mind that old front page of the Sun newspaper. You may remember it as Neil Kinnock’s head was contained in a light bulb. It dates from the days when that newspaper was brilliant in a cruel way. The headline ran: “If Kinnock wins today will the last person to leave Britain turn out the lights.” The date was April 9, 1992 and Kinnock didn’t win and the lights stayed on. They are still on now, including the standard lamp next to me with the homemade lampshade.

The British Library website says the following about that page: “This is a classic example of the use of ‘personality politics’ started by Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie. It is a striking front page, bringing a lot of humour into the serious business of politics and a general election. But it caused a lot of anger among Labour party supporters.”

It is easy to see why. More than 20 years later, many of the national newspapers have their bias, although this is usually displayed in a less wittily confrontational manner. But you only have to see the sort of coverage that new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gets to realise that the bias still exists.

The interesting thing here is that Corbyn is a dream for the editors and headline writers: a rampant leftie running the Labour Party is like Christmas Day every day for these people. The danger in this approach is that they portray Corbyn as more extreme than Satan in a baggy beige jumper, and then he turns out to appear fairly approachable and ordinary, even a little dull in a comforting sort of way.

The gap between the tabloid sketch and the humdrum reality may be enough to make people think: ‘Well, he’s not that bad.’

For me it’s still a head and heart thing: my head says Jeremy Corbyn will never win an election; my heart likes some of what he says, especially about not spending untold billions on the dodgy nuclear insurance policy that is Trident.

It’s a funny thing to be a lifelong newspaper person who sometimes feels infuriated by the press. For all that there is still ink in my veins. And the inky smudge on my fingers never quite goes away. Yet it’s in danger of becoming a one-sided affair: newspapers don’t perhaps love me as much as I love them. Until now I have only ever done newspaper work. That’s why I am trying with the freelancing still, even if the once busy highway of my old life has become a thin and bumpy track.

Anyway it was good to see my old colleagues, although it was another sad occasion, a bit like getting together for a drink after a family funeral. The do was branded as a photographers’ funeral, fittingly so as a newspaper once proudly known for its photographers now has only the one.

For Man On Ledge, last night was also a reminder of what is lost when your job goes, the work and the money of course, but the everyday companionship too.

That old Sun headline turned on a bulb in my mind for a reason. I’m beginning to worry that one day someone will say: “Will the last person to leave The Press newspaper please turn out the lights.”

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