"There are no characters left in journalism," one reporter wistfully said to me once. He then told me about the journalist who climbed up the outside of the Manchester Evening News' building, knocked on the window and gave a sub-editor a heart attack.
I was reminded of this reading Colin Dunne's new book Man Bites Talking Dog on the glory days of newspapers. Dunne is never short of "characters".
He writes: "Eccentricity was cherished. So the Daily Express reporter who, after some light social drinking with colleagues, crawled under the desk and bit the news editor savagely on the calf, was fired, of course, but he was reinstated the next day.
"Was there really a reporter in Manchester that carried a crutch in the boot of his car because 'no-one can turn away a cripple'? Indeed there was.
"And did the Sun's two top men, on being presented with airline credit cards, jump on the first flight to California and never come back? They did, they did. Was a reporter on the Daily Mirror instructedin an official editor's memo to wear his dentures at all times when on company business. He was, he was." Man Bites Talking Dog is published by Revel Barker Publishing, price £9.99.
I am a freelance journalist based in the UK and was deputy editor of Press Gazette, the journalists' magazine, from 1993 until 2006. I want to give an independent view on media matters.
You can contact me with stories, ideas and comments by email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow me on Twitter @jonslattery