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Diary of a retired parson

Jonathan Copus is up with the lark

Jonathan Copus

A large part of my early ministry was spent in broadcasting – mostly in radio, where I moved from religious programmes to news and current affairs.

My first solo news shift was a dreaded ‘late-early’, when you finished at 10 pm and were on duty again at 5.30 the next morning.

Worried about not sleeping properly on the camp bed the station thoughtfully provided in a makeshift bedroom, I purchased a half-bottle of amber nectar from the nearest offie.

Ripping the last story from the typewriter (remember typewriters?) I took a nip of my improvised sleeping draught – quite a large nip, actually, more of a bite – and got ready for bed. Perhaps another wee dram, just to make sure.

The building enclosed a central well which was dominated by an outsize air-conditioning plant. Throughout the night, this monster periodically rose from slumber with a loud clang and a whirr rising to a whine. And so did I. Rose from slumber, I mean, each time becoming more desperate for sleep. Perhaps another nip would do the trick.

At 5am I fell out of bed onto an alarm clock and an empty bottle, bug-eyed and plastered. At the third attempt I managed to stand up long enough to open the door and feel my way gingerly along the corridor wall to clean my furry teeth.

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It wouldn’t have been so bad if the newsroom had kept on going round. But every quarter-turn or so it changed its mind and snapped back into position. Not good for a stomach already sloshing with lashings of vending-machine coffee.

‘Morning, Jonathan,’ said Keith, the breakfast show presenter. ‘Grimble,’ someone replied. I think it was me.

All too soon it was time for the long, long journey to the studio, where disaster lay in wait. Keith was a bit startled when I commanded: ‘Keep STILL!’ I was actually talking to the words on the page. My carefully-crafted stories seemed to have been invaded by a peppering of mumbelumps and purgles.

‘It’s six o’clock. The news, with Jonathan Copus.’

‘The cabinet meetsh later ’day to dishcush the worshening financial shituation. Economomishtsh are worried by the sharp pall in the found.’

At last I fell gratefully upon the weather forecast, which revealed that today would be dusty and mill.

‘Hmmm,’ said the boss at nine. ‘You’re clearly a better owl than a lark.’