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SUNDAY 21 JULY  2024

*

The Splash Sub

By PAT PRENTICE


Every war or plane disaster

That ever came his way

Every quake or scandal

That was the big news of the day


Just before the deadline

When the metal clunk came down

When the rollers started humming

He was hero of the town


At ten O'Clock each evening

He would lean over the desk

With streams of flapping paper

He'd be glued onto his task


He was the king of splashes

And a hero of his day

The man who made the headlines

Till the printers went away


He was emperor of Fleet Street

The last to have his say

The first edition version

Of the top news of the day


Amid reams of copy paper

With a glue pot and a pen

Reporters' words were gutted

For a final version then


He was the mighty splash sub

Every frantic word he'd rage

With every second counting

He would dominate

the page


With flecks of beer breath flying

No ulcer could survive

There was no time to panic

The best intro would arrive


He was the king of splashes

And a hero of his day

The man who made the headlines

Till the printers went away


From clouds of blue smoke curling

Old spike and stale fag ash

His lungs defying oxygen

To the Lamson tube he'd dash


And as the copy was smacked in

And disappeared with rumbling hiss

The splash sub would hitch his trousers

And be busting for a piss


And everyone would marvel

And admired by every sub

He would bequeath a masterpiece

Then go off to the pub


He was the king of splashes

And a hero of his day

The man who made the headlines

Till the printers went away


And first thing in the morning

Calm behind his breakfast tray

The gent would peruse peacefully

Balanced words from previous day


And thoughtfully and informed

With his brolly in the rain

The pinstriped politician

Pontificated on the train


The thoughtful informed thaumaturge

Who kept up with the news

Who everybody marvelled at

Dare not gainsay his views


Who coolly demonstrated

Ruled with knowledge of the world

And like a state colossus

His power was unfurled


Did not know the king of splashes

The hero of the day

The man who made the headlines

Till the printers went away


Never realised that hours before

Amid the turmoil and the sweat

Those very well-considered words

Were hurled onto the set


For next day's big Commons debate

And stowed in Hansard's binding

That every fact that ruled the land

Was coined in fucks and blinding


He was the king of splashes

And a hero of his day

The man who made the headlines

Till the printers went away


Until at last the internet

Emasculated worldly judge

And gossip goons took over

And the wordy had to budge


Now good wisdom has given way

To scrawlings on the walls

With fine men of flong and foundry

Silenced by a load of balls


The old and trusted broadsheets

Rich fed red tops of affray

Are lost to cheap opinion

And desperation of decay


Where once hamster cage linings

Were first studied by a Queen

Now fish and chippy wrappers

Are replaced by zombie screen


He was the king of splashes

And a hero of his day

The man who made the headlines

Till the printers went away


So silently at ten O'Clock

In some quiet back town bar

A reminiscing mild old hack

Thinks of times afar


When way from being some old soak

He boldly took the yoke

What intimidated most folk

For the job he was the bloke


He was once the king of splashes

And a hero of his day

The man who made the headlines

Till the printers went away



© Pat Prentice