It may or may not surprise you to know that I have on occasion written to magazines and newspapers other than Smash Hits.
I am probably proudest of having had a letter accidentally published in Private Eye. It was only meant to be a note to correct an error in a piece about the festering pusball of over-rated mediocrity that is Pete Doherty, but they published it anyway. My only slight regret is that it was actually slightly defensive of the worthless pustule, as they had confused him with an equally moronic member of his band.
The first such letter, though, was sent to The Times, albeit the sports pages. A journalist named Peter Barnard had criticised the England rugby team’s performance the previous weekend in a spoof Biblical piece (again, rather like something out of Private Eye). It was, I felt, rather misdirected, so I wrote a letter in similar terms to tell him so. It was slightly startling to find it the lead item on the next weekend’s letters page.
I wrote to The Times a few more times after that. Two of those letters (one concerneing my most-hated phrase, ‘we enclose herewith’, the other about the ill-fated Beagle 2 expedition to Mars) even made it into a book of that year’s missives. Another led to a very nice letter from one of my former university lecturers. One was even partly responsible for a change to the format of a popular sitcom. One day I’ll find the cuttings, and a scanner*, and post them here.
I stopped writing letters (and emails) to newspapers long ago. I didn’t want to turn into the mad bloke who for months sent me a weekly ridiculous religious ‘quote’ after The Times published my address. Now I just write blogs…