Ex-editor Dooley’s Mickey Finn and Chaplin barney’

THE hereafter cannot ever have been quite the same in the decades since it was doubtless enlivened by the abrupt arrival of one of my life s truly unforgettable characters. As his name suggests, Pat Dooley was Irish. Not that you d know it from his speech

THE hereafter cannot ever have been quite the same in the decades since it was doubtless enlivened by the abrupt arrival of one of my life's truly unforgettable characters.

As his name suggests, Pat Dooley was Irish. Not that you'd know it from his speech, or the penetrating blue eyes more suggestive of Nordic forbears.

Making him editor of their Romford paper was one of the smartest things the Recorder management ever did.

Even if at times they subsequently found Pat's vibrant brand of local journalism a trifle testing to keep up with.


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It was my good fortune to be involved in the newly-credited editorial off-shoot of page design when Pat started.

As a result we worked closely together on what were often very long Romford press days. Shrewdly, Pat laid prompt ground rules.

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Discussion, question, and argument were encouraged, but the editor's word was final.

It led to some lively moments as the make-up of middle-spreads, and front and back pages was debated.

When my two penn'orth was over-ruled I'd set Pat's eyes twinkling with a resigned "All right, Sir, have it your way ... you silly old Irish person." Not often was he wrong, though.

In the way it is with newspaper people, I learned some of Pat's professional background without a question asked.

A weekend football stringer for the paper told me in his pre-war days as an office boy at The Mirror, he'd spent lunch-hours at Lincolns Inn Fields listening to the fiery Communist oratory of a Pat Dooley. Was ours the same one?

That it had to be I later heard from Fleet Street and BBC Sports Report luminary J. L. (Jim) Manning, also a one-time Recorder hand.

Jim revealed how, after the war, Pat was editor of an English language daily in some big east European city, but was quickly soured by the communism pursued behind the Russians' Iron Curtain.

His strong, persistent editorial attacks on it had friends fearing for his life. So when Pat refused to heed their warnings they covertly engineered his "collapse" in the office by slipping him a Mickey Finn.

A pre-arranged ambulance rushed a comatose Pat to the airport for a flight to the life-saving treatment he allegedly needed. He came to in a west Berlin hotel, outraged, out of a job - but alive.

When I asked if this 007 escapade was gen, Pat wryly admitted the impromptu getaway cost him the valued library he'd perforce had to leave behind to "those communist bastards".

Yet leopards and spots came to mind when Pat and me had our one real barney.

He sent a note instructing the film review page was to lead on a write-up he'd penned on the Charles Chaplin film, Limelight.

It baffled me, because nowhere in the page's cinema ads was one for Limelight.

A similar piece of wrong info once led to the paper recompensing a validly disgruntled reader who'd wasted time and money going to see a film that wasn't showing.

When I reminded Pat of that we had a row about Limelight.

Not until he said: "Run it. That's an order", did it dawn.

Charlie was a fellow-traveller. I mentioned the episode to dad at home that evening. He came out with a Great War ditty he and his trench mates sang, which allowed me to give Pat's leg a pull next day.

Typically, he went red-faced with laughter when serenaded with "Oh the moon shines bright on Charlie Chaplin, his boots are cracking, for the want of blacking, and his little baggy trousers they'll need mending, before we send him to the Dardanelles."

Notable Pat Dooley strokes, at negligible cost to the paper, included sending a reporter to file stuff on local servicemen's part in battling one of Malaya's emergencies.

Similarly cheaply, he persuaded Ford to ferry someone to the States to report on comparisons between the lives of Ford workers there and in Dagenham. Both ventures somewhat radical for a local rag then.

Pat's exit was well in keeping. One press night he left early to speak at a dinner.

Changing in the office, Pat paraded proudly in dinner jacket and bow-tie, chuckling at our "bloated capitalist" jibes.

The edition had just been put to bed when we heard its editor, speech warmly received, had sat down beaming thanks and, amid the applause, quietly expired.

About the only time he missed a deadline.

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