Alan Tyers goes behind the scenes
Series/Tournaments: England tour of Australia
"Right lads," said the sports editor. "We'll order in a light lunch and then get down to writing these Ashes previews. Tell the youngster over there I'll have the usual."
"Chicken in a basket, lasagne, a king prawn jalfrezi and six cans of Stella, sir?" piped up a junior reporter.
'We'll get onto the starters in a minute, son," said the editor. "Let's concentrate on the main event. I've got a hunger today."
He passed over a handwritten list of requests.
"Boss," said the lad. "I'm not sure they do swan in the staff canteen."
"Don't bloody back-chat me, boy. What do I pay you for?"
"Sir, you don't, sir. I'm on work experience. Five years into it. And I'm not even sure it's legal to eat pandas in this country."
"Course it is," said the editor. "I've seen them in that restaurant in Regent's Park. Where you choose your own food and hop over into the cage and kill it.
"That's London Zoo, isn't it?" said the chief sports writer, awaking with a start and spilling whiskey over the copy of the book he was reading; his own autobiography.
"God, I hate pandas," mused the editor. "Coming over here, sitting around all day, only too happy to take our bamboo, so lazy they can't even be bothered to romp. I expect most of them are illegals."
"Ought we to write the newspaper?" suggested a sub-editor.
"Shut up, nerd," said the editor. "Right. Let's write this newspaper. Ashes pullout: we've got a feature from our ex-England captain, one from our other ex-England captain, one from our veteran cricket correspondent, which will presumably be about his teenage sexual awakening while watching Alfred Mynn bowl on a greentop at Hove, three from various current England players of varying dullness, and then a couple done in-house, repeating what they've all just said. So who's going to ghost-write that little lot?"
"It sounds like a lot of work," said the sub-editor.
"Nah, it'll be fine," said the editor. "Let's just cut up a load of insightful-sounding phrases, we'll put them all in a big bin and Panda Boy here can start picking them out and random and writing them up while I have my lunch.
"Yes sir," said the junior reporter.
"Right then," said the editor. "First session will be crucial… Ricky Ponting's captaincy record… Kookaburra ball… winning the key moments… Swanny… joker in the pack… untarnished by previous failures… selection headaches… blah, blah blah… You get the picture? Good. I'm going for a lie-down. Wake me up when the pubs open."
Ashes 1896 style? Check out a free sneak peek of Alan Tyers and Beach's new book WG Grace Ate My Pedalo here. All quotes and "facts" in this article are made up (but you knew that already, didn't you?)
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