Tales from an Old Hack reminds us of the glory days of the local press before the internet. Reporters really did get on their bikes (or in their old cars) to go to the police station to get stories, or rush to the scene of a local incident to speak to eye-witnesses. It was the only way to get the real stories. Fake news hadn’t been invented.
The book is also a personal memoir – funny, poignant, sometimes surprising – of how Barbara, a teacher, grew up in Birmingham before she ended up being kissed by a Pitbull, attacked by the BNP, and chasing crashed planes in her second career as a full time journalist in West London. The day after she left school she and two friends went to Butlins Holiday Camp in Skegness for the summer, before training as teachers (the closest thing to a gap year then). Students weren’t in the running to be redcoats, so they were given unattractive green overalls and told they were chalet maids. It was an education. Most surprisingly in 2016 Barbara found herself a collaborator on a Sunday Times best seller, while in 2017, she was spotted eating cake and wearing a hat at a Royal Garden Party with Mr F who features in her popular weekly column, Bm@il, which is ten years old this year.
Barbara Fisher is from Birmingham but has lived in West-London for many years. A teacher in Ealing for many years, she then entered the world of journalism at the suggestion of an editor who liked the weekly school’s page, which she wrote for the Uxbridge Gazette. A mother of one, she spent 20 years working for the paper, including spells as chief reporter and deputy news editor. She is now freelance but still writes a weekly column for Trinity Mirror. Barbara was shortlisted for the Edexcel Outstanding Educational Journalism Award in 2002, and was made an honorary fellow of Brunel University in 2005 for her community reporting. She has also written for the TES, My Weekly and the Guardian Family.