RE: Fleet Street | 1970s | Julia's Room
With Fleet Street so much in the news after the Leveson Inquiry report I thought you might enjoy this extract from Julia's Room set in Fleet Street in the 1970s.
"There were other ways of coming up with stories, of course. One thing you could do was phone all the names in your contacts book to see if they had anything interesting to report. If you were really lucky one of your contacts would ring you of their own accord with a hot tip. But they usually did this only if they were "bungs". Bungs were everywhere: working at such places as the Houses of Parliament, the divorce courts and the royal palaces; they could also be found in high class hotels, record companies and film studios; anywhere, in fact, where the rich and famous hung out. Bungs expected to be paid handsomely for their stories. It was rumoured that some of the most strategically placed bungs were so vital to The Globe as a source of scandal that they were kept on a weekly retainer and paid whether they delivered a story or not. Senior reporters such as Dressler ran a whole string of bungs. Until needed, the names and telephone numbers of the bungs lay dormant within the pages of reporters' contact books alongside others who could be relied upon to provide a quote or a story for nothing. That's why some of the reporters' contact books were as thick as telephone directories. Dressler's, of course, was the thickest. Sadly, I had never received a hot tip from a bung: as a relatively young and inexperienced reporter I wasn't authorised to pay for information and consequently my contact book was somewhat slim."
Julia's Room is a (long) short story or novella - 32,000 words. It tells the story of Alan, a young reporter working in London's Fleet Street. He thinks he has three great ideas for the weekly story conference but then, in the editor's absence, Ray Dressler is put in charge. In the course of the day Alan is humiliated by a colleague and shocked by the revelations of a stranger in a pub. By the day's end he will never feel the same about his fellow journalists or Julia again.
(Still only £0.77p.)