Confessions of a Journalist

Mr Biscoe is a former Yorkshire Post journalist who still writes as a freelancer

Stephen Tyndale-Biscoe: Confessions of a Journalist

This open meeting featured a talk entitled ‘Confessions of a Journalist’ from Stephen Tyndale Biscoe, former leader writer, columnist and obituarist at the Yorkshire Post. Drawing on many decades of experience in journalism, Stephen took us through a series of fascinating and increasingly surreal stories.

His first paper, joined in 1962, was the Herts and Essex Observer at Bishop’s Stortford, which featured a film critic who hadn’t been to the cinema for 20 years, and a motoring correspondent who was unable to drive. Stephen was lucky not to end up behind bars when, fidgeting with a dismantled piece of a bullet in his pocket during a particularly boring session of the local magistrates’ court, he inadvertently created a small explosion. ‘We’ll continue when the smoke has cleared from the press bench’ was the only comment from the court clerk.

My favourite story was the one he began with, his first obituary. The subject seemed promising: a Hurricane pilot awarded the DFC in the war who went on to fly stunts in a Tiger Moth with a younger man who as a schoolboy had seen him down a Heinkel bomber above Northallerton in 1940. When Stephen began his research about ‘Bill and Ben, the Tiger Moth Men’ he was dismayed to find that everybody who had known his subject had grown to dislike him intensely, and no one had a good word to say for him.

At the Yorkshire Post Stephen found that his feature articles attracted such interest that readers contributed their own stories, leaving Stephen free to take time off on his bicycle while the column wrote itself. Sadly, Stephen told us, the days of entertaining on the ‘receip and hosp’ expense account became a thing of the past, but he was able to enjoy a full and varied career in what will come to be seen as having been the golden age of provincial journalism.

Questions from the audience elicited more quirky stories, all sparked by Stephen’s journalist’s curiosity about his fellow man, and suffused with warmth and wit. John Tempest spoke for us all in giving a vote of thanks.