Man Bites Talking Dog is the fourth in our ongoing ‘Hack-Lit’ series of ebooks ... penned by seasoned Old School journalists who enthralled millions of ordinary folks like thee and me ... on a daily basis, bang on deadline – and just before the pubs opened for serious business.
Dunne discovered early in his journalistic career that he was not cut out to be an ace news reporter. Just not Dunne, you know, old bean. But that fact (the destruction of many a fainter heart) didn’t deter Colin. Thankfully.
If occupation was still listed on passports, his wouldn’t read ‘journalist’ but ‘fog-plaiter’. That’s an obscure rural expression in wildest Yorkshire, England for a chap who can create something amazingly substantial from moorland mist. Some talented and original artists in other disciplines (inventive scientists, brewers and distillers, the chap who dreamed up the wheel) achieved this admirable level of making ‘summat out of nowt’.
Dunne created, the art of literary fog-plaiting (pulling outrageously funny bunny rabbits out of empty hats then magically turning the rabbits into words on a page) and captivating a deliriously happy readership of countless millions by travelling the world in search of ... well, pretty well anything that wasn’t a news story (ie: nothing at all – a wisp of fog, well plaited into sheer comic genius.
Newspaper and magazine editors snapped him up, and readers wept and shivered through tales of thoroughly depressing doom and gloom and shock-horror until they reached the story carrying Colin Dunne’s famous by-line ... then they would split their sides with uncontrollable laughter and be well set up for the day or the week ahead, or forget in chuckle-fits the rotten drudgery and dismal news of that gloomy week that was.
It will come as no surprise to friends, family, colleagues and readers that Dunne reveals, exclusively in his new book, that he had his very best and his very worst idea in a tiny and remote hill village in the middle of nowhere ... called Giggleswick. You couldn’t make it up. Giggleswick village is as real as London, New York, Las Vegas and Sydney (but, perhaps, a tad more colourful). And Giggleswick is older than three of those other super-cities and wiser than all.
This book is a one-off lesson in laughter and how to guarantee it, making up the script as you go. It’s a book that turns workaday trivia into a one-man comedy show that has been running for more than half a century (though his email address is Dunnewriting – this new book puts the lie to that). Old-stagers in the game of words don’t die, they just improve their golf swing.
Colin’s is fog-plaiting at its finest by a gifted giggle-grinder – an artful dodger of all that’s serious – and who turned his dubious trade into an art form. And, try as he might, he still can’t play golf for toffee. Want a sure bet on a lawnmower race, though ... Dunne’s your man.
From a modest start on a country weekly newspaper in the Yorkshire Dales, Colin Dunne staggered, via Leeds and Halifax, London, Leamington Spa, Newcastle upon Tyne and Manchester to Fleet Street in its heyday. For half a century he delighted readers of local, regional and national newspapers and magazines with his uncanny ability to spot the strange, the odd, the unlikely and the just plain daft elements of human life. Things ‘serious journalists’ wouldn’t let their pint go flat over. And Man Bites Talking Dog tells you the hilarious story of how intense journalism was not his chosen specialisation ... and why fog-plaiting was.
Whether enjoying a lingering 'French' kiss and cuddle with sexy movie superstar Brigitte Bardot, interviewing poet Basil Bunting, or even taking a shorthand note of the sayings of Corky the Talking Dog, discovering the sexy, red-lit nightlife of Hamburg, the man-hungry ice maidens of Reykjavik, sharing life on a beach with the models for a Pirelli calendar, watching BBC TV’s Antiques Roadshow being filmed in a ramshackle town in Jamaica (where anything over a fortnight old was considered ‘antique’), even winning the world’s first lawnmower race, Colin Dunne was the man for any assignment that was identifiably barmy and unidentifiably newsworthy. And that no ‘real’ reporter would give the time of day.
Editorial conferences might go something like this … Editor: ‘This idea is a heap of (explicative redacted by prudish BeWrite blog editor).’ News Editor: ‘Complete (explicative redacted by same prudish BeWrite blog editor) balderdash.’ Smart features editor: ‘It surely is, Your Graces. Let’s put Dunne on the job.’
And always, back in the office, were the reckless and the feckless, outrageous, disgraceful, immoral, completely unreliable, but also the richly talented, wildly inventive and, above all, endlessly amusing.
This is a near-incredible (but 100% true) account of the Great Days, the Glory Days of journalism in the buzzing world hub of the international press that was Fleet Street, London and by one of its rare stars and legends.
If tireless and obsessive animal rights campaigner Brigitte Bardot ever finds out she’d kissed the man who'd just put the bite on Corky the Talking Dog, she’d gargle with neat Eau de Javel French bleach three times a day for a month.
And if you don't believe that, ask Corky!
A reminder of a better, happier, funnier journalistic era. Alistair Campbell. Journalist, broadcaster, award-winning best-selling author and Director of Communications and Strategy for former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair
'Man Bites Talking Dog' is an unashamed celebration of the decades when newspapers had ludicrously deep pockets, valued mischief and celebrated scallywags. In truth, many of those who skipped through the silliness were fine operators, Colin Dunne among them. Penny Ward. The Oldie Magazine
It is hilariously funny and crammed with witticisms and delicious anecdotes. As a writer Colin Dunne is right up there with Evelyn Waugh, PG Wodehouse and Tom Sharpe as a comic genius. John Kay. Journalist, columnist and author
From Friday Aug 19 (whatever your international time zone) Man Bites Talking Dog ebook editions are available from all online ebook stores in all digital formats for use on all electronic reading platforms from PCs and laptops, through the entire range of ebook-dedicated reading devices (Kindle, Nook, Sony, Kobo, iPad, etc) and tablets to iPods and smartphones.
Or you can buy in any format direct from the BeWrite Books BOOKSTORE, where you can also read more about author Colin Dunne, see full reviews and read free extracts. Price $5.95 (much less than a couple of pints in any currency equivalent).
Paperback is available from REVEL BARKER PUBLISHING (RBP), all major online bookstores or on order from your local brick-and-mortar bookshop if it's not in stock.
For nosy parkers: Author, Colin Dunne. Editor: Revel Barker. Text design and preparation of print and digital editions: Tony Szmuk. Additional editorial input: BeWrite Books’ editorial team. Cover cartoon: David Banks.
Happy weekend, folks. Neil et al at BB (and Corky)