This column marks the start of the 12th year I have been supplying words to fill this space on the editorial page of the Times. I continue to write for two reasons, I enjoy it and no one has asked me to stop.
I was asked recently if I thought newspaper readership was decreasing, if the internet was replacing the paper as a source of instant news rather than having to wait until the next day or week to read stories that were now ‘old news.’
Instant news is great but how many times have you read the next day, in the newspaper, that ‘initial reports were incorrect.’
It is also reported that the staff at the Whitehouse wishes there was only a weekly newspaper instead of instant news.
I know my readers and most of them are past the point of wanting instant things.
They like to pour their coffee or tea, find that spot at the kitchen table or on the end of the couch by the window, or maybe in the big recliner, and hope that I’m going to bring back some memories or make them smile for a minute. When I’m writing, I even type slowly because I know they don’t like to read fast.
If the power goes out and the internet goes down, my readers simply light a candle and continue reading as the flicker of the candlelight casting shadows across the page ads romance to the message.
I know all these things because wonderful people stop me on the street or in the store, introduce themselves and tell me they enjoy my column and how they like the ‘good news’ stories. My head has swollen two hat sizes in the past 11 years but those great conversations usually lead to more column ideas.
There are drawbacks. Often, in conversation with a group of friends, they will stop and look at me and make me swear that this conversation will not show up in the paper. I promise, but they have no idea that I have hundreds of unpublished exposé columns just waiting until one of them crosses me.
Recently sitting with some former firefighters, one of their wives said, “You should write some of the stories from the old fire hall.” Some of the boys went pale, some choked on their lunch and others yelled, “No!”
Another book for another time.
Gordon Holtby was a minister and the leader of our young people’s group many years ago.
He told us that every person has at least one great sermon inside of them and when you were given the chance to deliver those words, choose them wisely and make a difference with what you say.
My brother says my column has made a difference in his home. Since he has been putting the page with my picture at the bottom of the bird cage, his parrot is no longer constipated.
You readers are the reason I write. At least that’s what McGregor says.