Introducing Fennel's Gazette
Back in 1998, when I was a fourteen-year-old schoolboy, I had the privilege of becoming Editor of my school newspaper. ‘High Park News’, as it was called, was circulated to pupils and local businesses for the cover price of ten pence.
Of all the activities involved in producing the newspaper, it was my trips to the Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council Print Unit that I most enjoyed. Here I would work alongside the Print Manager as he printed out each section of text, cut it into column-width strips and laid it out on a master sheet, then photographed the lot so that it could be turned into a printer’s plate. This was entirely hands-on, 'old-school' printing with no desktop publishing software or PDF technology. Just scissors, spray glue, lots of laughs, and a great deal of patience as we waited for the photographs to be developed in the dark room. It set in place my love of print and design – and my enjoyment of creating publications by hand.
Where it all began: the school newspaper I edited from 1988 until I left school in 1990.
2018, therefore, marks the thirtieth anniversary of my 'Editorship' and introduction to publishing. I'm celebrating by launching another newspaper. Well not exactly ‘launching’, as you won’t be able to purchase it in newsagents, and it's not a conventional newspaper. Instead, it’s a free publication that will accompany my books purchased through the Fennel’s Priory Shop. It's not available elsewhere, so it's intended to be a bonus 'souvenir' for those readers who choose to purchase books from me.
The world’s smallest handmade newspaper?
I have to confess that Fennel's Gazette, as it is known, is deliberately small and handmade. It's pocket-sized, printed at home, folded, guillotined and signed by me. This deliberately laboursome and homemade activity acknowledges my old school newspaper and the humble origins of Fennel’s Journal – which was once handwritten letters and hand-bound booklets sent to my friends.
A quarterly, seasonal, read
Published once a quarter, Fennel’s Gazette contains a welcome message from me, a seasonal story that's not available anywhere else, and a round-up of Fennel’s Priory activities. It takes no more than ten minutes to read, so is recommended to be enjoyed while drinking a cup of tea. How's that for 'added value' and yet another opportunity to 'Stop – Unplug – Escape – Enjoy'?
It's destined to grow, if you want it to
Whilst Fennel's Gazette is currently small (just a piece of A4 paper folded in two), my intention is to grow it over time. Firstly by adding extra pages and then – should demand warrant it – by producing it as a proper-sized newspaper. Maybe once per year as a limited edition treat for collectors, or, when you've finished reading it, as the world's best chip wrapper or most stylish tinder for your Kelly Kettle?
How does that sound? All praise the printed word!
If you like this blog, you'll like Fennel's book A Writer's Year.
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