‘New Journal reporter bribes Royal Free hospital porter’

A FRIEND with a cavalier grasp of current affairs recently pointed me in the direction of Kevin Cotter’s Jog On Fat Barry, a collection of uncompromising crime stories, and asked me: ‘Are you lot at the New Journal doing all that Leveson stuff?’ He meant the paragraph below:

“A journalist from the Camden New Journal who slipped a porter £20 to get him into ICU at the Royal Free Hospital, was the first reporter to interview Kevin when he finally regained consciousness six days after falling into his coma… The Camden New Journal put Kevin’s photograph on their front page but Kevin wished they hadn’t. He didn’t like to look at himself. Acne had left his face badly scarred and astigmatism forced him to wear thick-framed NHS glasses.” p179

I can, at this stage, confirm that there is no expenses budget at the New Journal for bribing the folk up at the Royal Free. As it turns out, the New Journal pops up in a fair few novels, revealing the assumptions about how it and other local papers tick. In Lara Citron’s The Honey Trap, we read:

“I handed her a mug and she pushed the copy of the Camden New Journal back into my hands. Jesus Christ. There on page three was a picture of Bambuss, under the heading ‘Detective Fingers Care Worker’. Ughh, poor Maria.” p150

Ughh indeed. If we ever run a headline like that, we’ll all get our collective coat and find something else to do with our lives. ‘Fingers’ shouldn’t be capped up. The paper is also referenced in Alastair Campbell’s novel, Maya, and gets a namechecked in Jane Fallon’s Getting Rid Of Matthew (Jane and her partner, Ricky Gervais, used to deliver the New Journal before being struck by fame, we learned last month). But more often, it pops up in crime fiction. This includes Oliver Harris’s The Hollow Man, which conjures up this scene:

“Belsey walked out quickly to avoid the throng. Someone grabbed his arm. ‘Nick’. Belsey looked into the pale eyes of Miranda Miller from Five News. He knew her from a Soho bar they both used to frequent, an establishment so desperate they thought a police officer lent the place some class. He was a bright-eyed constable tehn and she was a cub reporter for the Camden New Journal. ‘What the hell’s going on?’ Miller said. ‘I don’t know, but that was bullshit’. ‘I owe you a drink.‘ ‘How about owing me breakfast?’ They got a table at the back of the Coffee Cup cafe. Belsey ordered eggs and toast and a double espresso on her company card. Miller ordered orange juice. She launched straight into interview mode. ‘Can you confirm it’s gang related?’ ‘No. But it’s going to impact on property prices.'” p127

Ooh, that’s a cliff-hanger. Head to a good bookshop or Amazon to find our what does happen to the detective and the ex-New Journal reporter in the world of fiction… A last minute Christmas gift, maybe.

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