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South Wales Evening Post column, March 15, 2024

Robert Lloyd PR, Media and Marketing Consultancy News, Newspaper columns South Wales Evening Post column, March 15, 2024

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South Wales Evening Post column, March 15, 2024

Posted By RobertLloyd58

IN more than 47 years as a hack journalist, I’ve probably dropped more Clangers than a butter-fingered and very nervous BBC animation technician.

Readers of a more junior age will have to look up Google to understand the sentence above – and to find out more about the classic Oliver Postgate 1970s stop-motion children’s TV series.

But, readers of my generation will, of course, just recognise the reference to ‘Clangers’ as a clumsy way of introducing a column about mistakes.

Writing a weekly newspaper column is the gift that keeps on giving as it continues to allow me the chance to make the occasional dreadful blunder.

As blunders go, killing people off before their time is one of the most dreadful sins.

History is littered with instances where people have had newspaper obituaries published . . . while they are still alive!

In 1897, an English journalist from the New York Journal contacted the author Mark Twain to (bizarrely) inquire whether the rumours that he was dead were true.

Twain famously replied, “The report of my death was an exaggeration.”

And Twain’s quote came to mind one memorable day when I was hard at work in the Evening Post’s old newsroom in Adelaide Street.

In those days, reporters shared desks and office phones. I shared mine with a chap called Graham Evans, who, this particular lunchtime, was busy studying that day’s edition of the Post and a well-crafted obituary he’d written about the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon.

Picture the scene: Phone rings on desk. I pick up the call, which is transferred from switchboard.

A cultured voice asks to speak to Graham Evans. I ask, who’s calling, please? The answer comes . . . “It’s the Bishop of Swansea and Brecon.”

I relay this news to Graham, a chap with a reputation for not being flustered in a crisis.

Quick as a flash, Graham gives the instruction: “Ask him where he’s calling from?”

Plainly, the Bishop wasn’t calling from the entrance to The Pearly Gates and I am happy to report it was all resolved amicably . . . in the end!

Included in the long list of prematurely reported obituaries is Swansea-born politician Michael Heseltine, who was reported dead by the BBC’s Radio One in 1994. At the time of writing, Mr Heseltine was still alive, aged 90.

Such high-profile cases reinforce the argument that anyone can make a mistake, so I put my hands up to a blunder in this column back in January.

During the course of an essay about Wales winger Louis Rees-Zammit quitting Rugby Union to try his hand at playing American Football, I managed to weave in some memories of other Welshmen who have tried the gridiron game.

To quote from my January column, ‘Albie Evans (now, sadly, no longer with us) was a former New Dock Stars and Llanelli Wanderers rugby union player who had, remarkably, found himself with the New England Patriots in Boston in 1971.

‘The genesis of this particular Albie adventure lay in a stunt pulled by a Boston

radio station, who staged a ‘Superfoot’ competition in the UK to find the very best goal-kickers. Albie was one of the winners and found himself on a plane to the USA. He returned with stories galore.’

Stories galore, indeed – and I have provided Albie (Allan) Evans with another tale to tell his family.

For, I am delighted to report, Albie is still, in his own words, “alive and kicking”.

Luckily for me, Albie and his family, have seen the funny side of it all.

“In fact,” Albie said, “We’ve all had a really good laugh about it.”

How did I make the mistake? Well, Albie likes his bowls and during a conversation many moons ago someone mentioned to me that Allan Evans was dead. Obviously, it was a very different Allan Evans, but my sluggish brain must have logged it as Albie.

Now coming up to 77, Albie continues to play sport, regularly turning out for Llanelli for indoor and outdoor bowls competitions.

Albie still has an interest in American Football, but admitted he doesn’t tune in to every game.

“I always look for the Patriots results every week they play – and I do watch the Superbowl,” Albie said. “But, I admit that I tape it to watch the following day as it’s such a marathon late-night show.

“American Football can be such a long-winded event and, let’s face it, as a goal-kicker it could be really boring. You’d be hanging around and only needed for the two minutes when they needed someone for a goal-kick.

“Looking back, it was an amazing life experience going to Boston. Somewhere, I have photos of the trip and I can remember three of us competition winners being photographed coming down the steps of the plane in Boston. It was quite an adventure.

“When I returned to the UK, the Welsh Rugby Union banned me for 13 months as they considered that I had breached the rules which were then in place about professionalism.

“I wasn’t allowed to play rugby, so I ended up playing soccer for the Dafen and Evans and Williams sides in local leagues in Llanelli.

“Fortunately, two rugby stalwarts of the time, Handel Greville and Hermas Evans pleaded my case with the WRU in Cardiff and got the ban lifted and I was able to resume playing for Dock Stars and Llanelli Wanderers.”

Happy days for Albie – and happy days for me, too, to report that he’s still alive!

From now on, I think I will concentrate less on scribbling words and more on digital photography. After all, there’s not a lot that can go wrong with taking a few portrait shots of the family . . . is there?

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Written by RobertLloyd58

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