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On this Maundy Thursday, Revel Barker sends a reminder about the Wayzgoose
From Gentlemen Ranters, Good Friday, 2008
Yesterday – and there’s a fiver here says that you forgot it – was Wayzgoose. I didn’t forget it, so please excuse the shaky writing.
Time was when everybody in The Street, and on provincial mornings and weeklies (but not the poor bloody infantry on the evenings, who would have to wait a whole day) would have been aware and, likely, out celebrating.
It was the one guaranteed day off in the year, all down to a tradition dating from – oh, I don’t know, since time immoral.
It was the day that everybody in The Print took off.
The Queen called it Maundy Thursday and distributed money to the public; the lads called it Wayzgoose and distributed money to the publicans.
To the seaside, they went, in hired charas, or out into the country in search of pubs beyond the ken of licensing authorities.
We went on a mystery tour sometimes and somebody had the bright idea that we’d all guess our ultimate destination, and write it on a pound note that we’d put in hat. My guesses were usually quite close, but the bus driver won it, two years running, so we stopped letting him play after that.
Trust me: there’s a boatman where I live who advertises ‘Mystery trips to the Blue Lagoon’.
The secret (not about the bus driver – we never solved that one – but about the day off) was that Wayzgoose was the day before Good Friday which was a non-printing day.
We needed nominal cover in the office and the Daily Mirror wisely employed its own rabbi in the newsroom, for the same reason that it employed Jocks so that the natives could be off at Christmas in return for allowing the Scots time off to celebrate their own pagan festival the following week.
So, you are wondering, why Wayzgoose.
I’m glad you asked, because nobody knows.
The best sources say origin obscure, or even origin unknown.
Certainly by the 17th century the master printer – usually the owner, of course – in a print shop would treat his staff to an annual dinner on August 24, which was seen as the day when summer stopped and the nights started drawing in. The date also marked the issuing of candles for late-afternoon working (although no connection between goose and candle has actually been established).
The date was later switched to Maundy Thursday because, there being no publishing on Good Friday, it was a guaranteed day off (the only other one being Christmas Eve) for everybody in the print.
Because it was now a full day, it came to involve an excursion, usually a trip to the seaside, or to a country pub.
Of course, Murdoch and Maxwell then abolished Good Friday.
But it is as good an excuse for a piss-up as any.
And one that should be perpetuated, I think. If for no other reason than that it is such a wonderful word.
Maybe we should restore it by organising an outing incorporating a pub crawl, but instead of going out of Fleet Street, go back into it for an afternoon.
It’s a year away. I know that, nowadays, it takes time to plan things.
If yes, put this in your diary. The next Sporting Life reunion is on Thursday, May 9. More info on Members’ Noticeboard.
This is from MAGGIE HALL, who was posted to the Daily Mirror’s New York bureau in 1980, and freelanced out of Washington DC from 1983 “but I make frequent visits home”. She hopes her Corfu pilgrimage to find ALAN LAW’S grave – “It was unexpected but it delighted me” – will have a similar affect on all of Alan’s old mates.
Until his death last Autumn, I had no clue ALAN LAW – whom I counted as a good pal during my London-Mirror days – was living in Corfu. I spent time on the island recently, and as I was getting ready to go I thought: darn, too late to catch-up with Alan.
Like many visitors to Corfu, the British Cemetery was on my list of “things to do”. When I went I asked if people were still buried here. Yes, they were. Was there a list of recent burials? No, there wasn’t. Anyway how would Alan be buried here? As the cemetery is under the care and administration of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, surely it’s the final resting place for war-heroes, dignitaries, VIPs etc. Not that Alan wasn’t that to us, we Mirror old-timers.
It was a beautiful, sunny day. It was an emotional and stirring experience wandering around what felt like a secret-garden full of trees, shrubs and burial spots, laid out in a serenely casual way. The cemetery dates back to 1814 (when the British occupied the island) and shows off all types of monumental masonry – some graves adorned with mausoleum-like edifices, others with ornamental markers, many with simple headstones.
I’d pretty much made my way all the way round – taking in so much, including the memorial site for the 44 sailors killed in 1946, when HMS Saumarez and HMS Volage hit a mine in the Corfu Strait – and I turned to leave. But as I did I changed my mind and said to myself: hang on, just a few more minutes in that sunny corner, you haven’t been there. So I took a few more steps into the cemetery, by this time pretty much overcome at absorbing the fascinating history of the British in Corfu… and there it was! A gleaming, black granite headstone emblazoned with Alan’s name. Now I was really overcome.
Alan shares his grave with that of his wife, Doreen, who died just six months earlier.
Read a sumptuous look back at Fleet Street pubs in All Our Yesterdays
DONALD ZEC, OBE, the Daily Mirror’s incomparable showbiz and feature writer – and a member of the AMP – is 100 years old today. Don specialised in writing about film, and set the bar for the big interview.
With thanks to Roy Greenslade for the nudge, we’d like to join with all Don Zec’s friends and colleagues in wishing him a very happy 100th birthday. Roy’s tweet: https://twitter.com/GreensladeR/status/1105425615761666048
Don is pictured here in 1955 in a study by another Mirror doyen – Zola. Pic: Mirrorpix.
An edit from Wikipedia: Donald Zec’s career in journalism began in 1938 with a three-day trial at the Daily Mirror. In 2009 he recalled: “I was so embarrassingly bad that no one had the courage to tell me, so I stayed for 40 years.”
After war service, he returned to the Daily Mirror as a crime reporter and later became the paper’s Royal correspondent. He also wrote about many megastars of the day, including Humphrey Bogart, Brigitte Bardot, David Niven, Ingrid Bergman, The Beatles, and Marilyn Monroe.
In later years he interviewed major political figures such as Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the (then) leader of the opposition Margaret Thatcher, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, and the former Californian Governor Ronald Reagan.
In 1970 Donald was awarded an OBE for services to journalism.
Donald Zec has written many biographies, including that of his brother, the political cartoonist Philip Zec. In 2012 Don won The Oldie magazine’s inaugural British Artists Award for artists over the age of 60. A year later his portrait of his late paternal grandfather – entitled “My Grandfather, the Pious Patriarch”) was presented at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, jointly winning the Hugh Casson Prize for Drawing.
IAN AUSTIN MP – the AMP’s patron in the House of Commons – has resigned from the Labour Party and will sit as an Independent, though he will not be joining other Labour rebels in The Independent Group.
Ian said said: “The Labour party has been my life, so this has been the hardest decision I have ever had to take. But I have to be honest, and the truth is that I have become ashamed of the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn.”
Ian Austin was adopted as a baby by a Jewish couple, refugees from the Holocaust, and it was known the anti-Semitism issue caused him great distress. In his resignation statement, he said: “I am appalled at the offence and distress Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party have caused to Jewish people. It is terrible that a culture of extremism, anti-Semitism and intolerance is driving out good MPs and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics.”
Former AMP chairman Tom Brown said: “Ian has always taken a special interest in our affairs. He told me his first ambition when he left school was to get an NUJ card.
“It will continue to be helpful to be able to consult with Ian, who has worked in the background on issues such as Equitable Life, and threats to company pensions.”
The Equitable Life disgrace rumbles on, and the govenment came under pressure in a recent Commons debate, as TOM BROWN reports…
MIRROR pensioners who lost out in the Equitable Life scandal have been rebuffed by the government – but a growing group of MPs has vowed to make Parliament think again and pay out on “a debt of honour”.
During the Commons debate on January 31 the government claimed the issue was closed, but a resolution was passed calling on them “to make a commitment to provide full compensation to victims of the scandal”. And the MPs’ action group warned that the government might be forced to do the right thing.
MPs of all parties from all over UK said they had thousands of Equitable Life (EL) losers in their constituencies, and some declared an interest, saying they themselves had lost money.
There are now 238 MPs, and growing, in the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Justice for Equitable Life Policy Holders.
They said many of their constituents have written the most heart-breaking stories about how their lives have been destroyed by this scandal.
The group’s co-chairman Bob Blackman (Harrow East, Con.) told the House – after the flat “No” from the Economic Secretary to the Treasury: “If the Government does not wake up to the fact that, on a cross-Bench basis, we are determined to get justice for Equitable Life policyholders, they may find that if they do not do the right thing it will be forced upon them.”
He recalled that EL encouraged people to move their life savings into unsustainable pension funds by promising bonuses that could not be delivered, and many companies encouraged their employees to invest with EL thinking it was a safe haven.
The parliamentary ombudsman has said this was the most serious case of maladministration she had ever encountered, but under the compensation scheme most [EL victims] received a fraction of what they were due.
Mr Blackman pointed out: “Bizarrely, the government drew a line at 1 September, 1992 for the people who would receive compensation. Someone who took out a pension policy on 31 August, 1992 got not a penny, but those who took a policy out on 1 September 1992 could end up with full compensation. That seems completely arbitrary. Many of these people are particularly vulnerable.”
Some 15,000 of those due money have since died, but 9,200 are still alive and should receive full compensation. Typical was one pensioner, who wrote: “My losses… were £28,942. I received a payment of £6,483.”
The Treasury’s excuse for not fully compensating the EL victims was pressure on the public finances, but MPs argued that as public finances have improved and austerity is at an end, it is now time to compensate the victims of the scandal properly.
However, Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen – whose own father died two years ago having been paid only 22.4 per cent of his Equitable Life bond – took a hard line. He said: “I want to be clear: when this settlement was made, it was not subject to future review by the Government.
“No obligation linked it to the future state of public finances. Being in government is about making difficult decisions. These difficult decisions are about how to be fair to both hard-working taxpayers and those in receipt of public spending and services, and where the need to spend public money is greatest.
“The government’s view is that this issue is now closed, and as a Minister I have never been in the business of offering false hope.”
Bob Blackman said the victims of the scandal would be disappointed by what the Minister had said but made it clear the fight will go on: “The reality is that we have a debt of honour. I believe that we should repay that debt.”
Former Daily Record news sub Ken McMaster sent us some happy news about his parents’ recent and notable wedding anniversary. You can read all about it in Members’ Noticeboard…