Early in January this year I, as one of the new senior editorial staff on Cherwell, was helping to put together the first print edition of Hilary term.
Anthony and Immy, that term’s editors, had introduced a new feature on the editorial page called ‘In the archives’. (I think they introduced it as I don’t recall it being around in Michaelmas)
Each week involved someone sifting through the (then horrendously disorganised; now impressively organised) archives in the Cherwell office, in search of something interesting or amusing.
It was a great little feature, and given the wealth of Oxford alumni in public life, was often quite mischievous fun too. Here is Ken Loach, the film director, in 1960 complaining that “if women were [Oxford University Drama Society] members, we would feel a moral obligation to give them parts, no matter how bad they were” and that “one day you would have a woman President – the thought appalls me.” Loach’s production company, Sixteen Films, replied to say that “Loach is deeply shocked and shamed by his younger self. Fortunately the Sixties came along and changed him utterly. Whew!”
Back to that first print edition: Pete, another deputy editor at the time, found a copy of Cherwell from 1977, which reported that Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, had in his student days been part of a mob that chucked Damian Green, now the Minister for Police and Criminal Justice, off Magdalen Bridge. Even better, the story was bylined by Michael Crick, now Channel 4’s political correspondent (who I had great fun interviewing last year).
Absent-mindedly, I tweeted it, grasping the comedy of the article – though not its newsworthiness.
Remarkably, given that I hardly had any twitter followers then, the story – a salacious piece of Westminster gossip – appeared on Guido Fawkes the following morning.
A couple of days later the Sunday Times, in the person of Camilla Turner (a former Cherwell editor who was then interning there), asked me to help find out what may have led to the incident all those years ago. We spent the best part of a day digging through the (far better preserved) archives in the Oxford Union. I had an ‘Additional Reporting’ credit in that week’s Sunday Times (£).