Scoop in the News

There are several references to Scoop in the recent London papers. The TLS has an article in its Blog about the comic use of the language of telegrams. It mentions novels by P G Wodehouse, Mikhail Bulgakov and John Swartzwelder as well as Waugh’s Scoop in which the wording of telegrams play a role:

In Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop…telegrams launch the plot: William Boot, nature columnist for the Daily Beast, is wired, to his horror (and by mistake: the message is intended for another Boot entirely), from the high office of the newspaper magnate Lord Copper, who dispatches him to cover a “promising” war in Africa. The naive and hopeless Boot tries desperately to fit in, but is soon urged:


It’s almost hate haiku. In one of Waugh’s lovelier inventions, Boot is ordered by Lord Copper to “CONTINUE CABLING VICTORIES UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE STOP”; Boot responds, with awful candour, that nothing has happened, and adds, “LOVELY SPRING WEATHER BUBONIC PLAGUE RAGING”. He is then fired, and responds: “SACK RECEIVED SAFELY” – showing a humility which genuinely inspires.

The Guardian has a story by Philip Norman about events of the late 1960s. This is in connection with the V&A Museum’s exhibit on the period (opening on 10 September) as well as Norman’s own biography of Paul McCartney. Norman was lucky enough to land a gig with the Sunday Times Magazine, then enjoying what was probably to be its Golden Age. In describing his journalism career he is reminded of Scoop:

Like William Boot in Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, I’d pictured Fleet Street as a place where “neurotic men in shirtsleeves and eyeshades … rushed from telephone to tape machine, insulting and betraying each other in surroundings of unredeemed squalor”. That was not how things were on the Sunday Times magazine. Picture the Ghost of Christmas Present in Dickens’s A Christmas Carol – that portly, guffawing figure, seated on a heap of turkeys, strings of sausages and crackers – and you have a fair idea of my new editor, Godfrey Smith. Under Godfrey, life was a constant round of champagne parties and lunches and dinners at his favourite restaurants, Chez Victor, Mario and Franco’s La Terrazza and the Gay Hussar. While it didn’t teach me much about writing, it taught me to open champagne, smoke only Havana cigars and guiltlessly enjoy what Godfrey called “Nooners” – lunch with a female companion, then the rest of the afternoon in bed.

Finally a journalist for The Sun, Alain Tolhurst, in an interview cites Scoop as an influence:  

Q. Who’s your favorite fictional journalist?
A. There aren’t a lot of positive fictional representations of journalists, but I love Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop, so maybe William Boot

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