4 PM Sunday. Nunhead. Yesterday was a good day for me. My Guardian newspaper was delivered.
In the last month, the paper has been thrown twice over the balcony onto the roof below, once it was hidden behind the potted plants and I didn’t find it for two days, and twice it didn’t come at all. I get the feeling the delivery agency’s heart isn’t into delivering it to me at my Nunhead ex-council flat.
Did you know that most British newspapers will not be delivered to homes above the ground floor? At least not the Independent, the Telegraph, and the Guardian. They will not deliver to flats or tower blocks.
You’d think they would want every single reader with the tv, internet, and general laziness driving people away from newspapers. I once worked at the Audit Bureau of Circulations out of New York in the 1980s where I checked on the circulation claims of the newspapers and magazines. One assignment was to see if USA Today was really shipping ten copies (or something ridiculously few like that) to Massena, New York – a full 350 miles north of New York City. Massena is closer to hell than civilization and by “hell” I mean Canada. Even the Red Indians wouldn’t live there.
I was looking for paper to be delivered after I felt too dirty reading Rupert Murdoch’s Times of London [“of London” to differentiate it from the real Times, The New York Times]. It says a lot about me that I am able to subscribe to the Telegraph, Independent or the Guardian. I am not English so the newspaper I read doesn’t define me and my social class.
Finally, I went ballistic to the Guardian. I shouted,
“The only people who live up a flight of stairs in the UK are poor and black, like me. Are you saying that poor and black people like me cannot read your paper? You are racist.”
The woman mumbled, “I can’t be a racist because I am black, too.”
“Well, you shouldn’t work for a racist organization such as the Guardian. I want to speak to your supervisor.”
I felt strong. I felt American. I felt black.
Sadly, this full-on approach never works with the British – but it is fun. They hate being told what to do – even if what they are told to do is in their best interests, such as join with Europe to save Greece, be nice to America, or force single mothers to let the dads see their children.
Plus, asking to speak to the manager is a declaration of war. You are asking him or her to do his or her job. And if you ever hear a British worker say “I have called the manager” that means the police are on their way.
While I waited for the police to arrive, I tweeted Mr. Alan Rusbridger, the Editor in Chief of the Guardian, the brilliant award-winning journalist who championed Julian Assange and Wikileaks and the fight against Rupert Murdoch. A man who can make a newspaper that I enjoy reading even though I think its world view is wrong!
In 140 characters I told him that his socialist-leaning paper was racist and anti-poor. That’s tantamount to telling Ruper Murdoch his topless Sun Page 3 girls were ugly or his beloved Times of London was publishing information on how Murdoch owned the British Government.
I got a tweet back from Alan saying he would look into it – and I call him Alan because we are both in the journalism business, me with this blog – and he must have acted because the paper started to come. Not every day, but enough to have had a victory.
In 50 words or less please tell me the lesson of this story. You will receive four free tickets to my show “Free until Famous” at the Source Below in London for coming up with one of the top three lessons. Every Tuesday and Wednesday in Soho.
Listen to Lewis Schaffer on Nunhead American Radio 104.4fm every Monday at 10:30pm GMT London and streaming at www.resonancefm.com.