LONDON Books has republished A Start in Life by Alan Sillitoe as part of their London Classics series and to mark the author's 80th birthday.
Mr F gave me a start when he told me (albeit with a silly smile on his face) that the famous author of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning mentioned in his book that he was once visited by two very green students on a mission to interview him at the height of his fame.
It happened while I was training to be a teacher - in those days if you wanted to teach primary school children you had to go to a college of education for a three year full-time course to get a Cert Ed.
This was meant to be equivalent to getting a degree and did, in fact, eventually turn into today's BEd.
Part of the course, which was in addition to learning things like the teaching curriculum and child psychology, involved studying a main subject at post-A level standard and I chose English.
For my final dissertation I decided to do 'The Change to Realism in Contemporary English Literature' and, with the supreme confidence that only a student can have, I wrote to all the biggest authors of the day to request an interview.
To my amazement the writer of the very famous classic novel, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, invited me to London, (all the rest ignored my letter) so I and a friend trundled up from the Midlands to Alan Sillitoe's home.
My first ever 'scoop' eventually appeared over two pages in the magazine of the West Midlands College of Education (now Wolverhampton University) though I can't say any reporting skills helped me achieve this, as I'd turned up to meet the author of the day having done scant research and lost my notebook on the way.
I think my youth and enthusiasm must have saved me as he was brilliant and treated me as if I knew what I was talking about.
We returned starry-eyed and unscathed (apart from a flasher on the Tube who chose to display his wares at Belsize Park) and no, we weren't really mentioned in Mr Sillitoe's publication!
FINALLY: I was amused to read about an online guide which aims to bridge the communication gap between old and young. Apparently youngsters are as baffled by words like doolally, hullaballoo and snifter, as oldies are by street lingo such as dissed, phat and mint (the latter obviously being familiar to senior citizens when of the humbug variety).