More Thrills than Skills: A Half-life in Journalism – Part Seven

Over the next few weeks, allmediascotland.com is to publish, each weekday, extracts from the memoirs of Scottish war correspondent, Paul Harris. ‘More Thrills than Skills: A Half-life in Journalism’, is being scheduled for publication next year.

Of course, it could not last for ever. But it would last a good few years, when Pirates Ruled the Waves would go through four editions, selling 10,000 copies, between 1968 and 1970.

would soon be driving a Mercedes and owning a couple of discotheques and a publishing business, whilst roaming in the groves of academe when the inclination might come to me. This was all very much a ’60s success story. Youth was pre-eminent and cash was available in a way never experienced before.

The Beatles were, of course, the ultimate success story of the ‘60s. In the way one ‘successful’ man seeks to meet others of like kind, I dropped in on the Apple Company’s offices in Baker Street one morning and asked to speak to John Lennon.

A secretary was about to shoo me away when John’s Liverpool tones droned out from behind a half-shut door. “Let the guy in.” I marched into John’s office. I was impressed. He had two stunningly beautiful mini-skirted girls, one on each knee.

“What you got man?” was John’s question. I suppose everybody who visited him wanted to sell him something. I knew, however, what a great supporter he was of pirate radio and I whisked a copy of the first edition out of my bag. Balancing the girls delicately on his knees, he fanned the pages of my book. “Great, man. Great, man.” Thus came John’s considered verdict. Now to business. “How many you got, man?”

At this stage I made my first and possibly my greatest mistake in business. I assumed John was asking how many I had with me to sell him that day (in fact, he wanted to know how much I had in my entire stock so he could buy the lot). “Twenty, John,” I responded.