“This is a group of people friendly titles Tony. We do what the owner says. We do local people rescuing drowning dogs, schools sending pupils to do good deeds overseas, retired railwaymen winning cups for converting derelict stations into a likeness of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Our readers like that sort of thing. It makes them feel warm inside, like a cup of hot soup on a cold day.”

“We do not do politicians granting planning applications in return for bungs, so called respectable businessmen running pornographic web sites or small time gangsters turning up dead on our doorstep. We might do serious if it happened. It doesn’t.”

“Don’t waste your time trying to look for it because it isn’t there. If you happen to stumble on something then I’ll give you the front page gladly and you’ll be on the yellow brick road down to Wapping before the ink’s dry. In the meantime stick with grannies getting their hundred candles on a cake from the local baker. People like to read stories like that; they buy the paper to see themselves and their loved ones in full colour on the front page. If they want scandal they can read the dailies or watch the soaps; there’s plenty of depression there.”

“About these phone calls … ?”

“Cranks, Tony. Go and talk to a few of them if you must. But you and I both know they’ll turn out to have been on the drink all night and seeing things that aren’t there because they’ve topped up the booze by smoking an illegal substance readily available in any of the town’s less respectable hostelries. I’ll look at what you dig up and try and find a few paragraphs on page ten.”

Brian had completed the circuit of the group’s newspaper titles. He had started as a junior on the local paper, moved to one of the bigger regional dailies, become editor and then Editor-in-Chief back where he started at the Rutherford Echo. Tony was just beginning this adventure.

Now at twenty nine the awkward frame of a gangling teenager had become stronger and muscular and even suits from the cheaper discount stores looked good on him. He always dressed well; preferring a suit, shirt and tie as it lent a professional touch to his career.

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