A Word in Your Ear - August 9, 2018

One mellows in older age. It helps us live with life's ups and downs. Even what appeared past disasters have, it seems, become triumphs.

Thursday, 9th August 2018, 4:07 pm
Updated Monday, 13th August 2018, 11:34 am
Roy Edmonds

Venerable mother-in-law Wynne pointed this out. “People don’t think much of journalists,” she told me frankly, during a chat. “But I always tell them of you and that young sportsman you let off – in Hong Kong.” When I frowned, she added, “He was a football player, who drank a lot.”

Ah, yes, Georgie Best, one of my missed ‘exclusives’. George – whom many believe was the best - was on a world tour, telling how he beat the booze.

I worked in Hong Kong and heard him on its breakfast radio. Then, coming home late afternoon from our newspaper office, I dropped into a quiet bar owned by a Scottish ex-soccer player. There was a sad George alone in a corner, supping alcohol.

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“It was so kind not to take advantage of that poor man’s addiction,” Wynne explained. “It does you great credit, you see.”

Well, perhaps. I never was tough enough for Fleet Street.

My second encounter with a sporting superstar was with snooker player Alex Higgins, another black sheep. After some rumpus he had jumped from a girlfriend’s bedroom window to evade the Press, breaking a leg but escaping.

“Where is Alex Higgins?” screamed a Sunday tabloid’s front page next morning. Well, as it happened, he hobbled into a pub where I was – in Ramsbottom.

The broken man looked terrible and I felt sorry for him. Although it would be a lucrative scoop, I couldn’t betray him.

Alex even limped over on crutches and asked to borrow my paper.

“Mum’s the word,” I told him, with a wink.

His nod of thanks was my only reward – along, of course, with mother-in-law’s congratulations.

• Read Roy’s books at royedmonds-blackpool.com, on Kindle or from Waterstones.