The thunder of Miss Penn
Monday 10 July 2017
Peter Gregson's reference to his horror of Situationers (and he could have mentioned "briefs" or "mailers") and their overseer Muriel Penn brings back memories of my early days with the Old Firm in 1962 when as a fresh graduate trainee I was placed under the wing of the great lady, then a power indeed whose wrath even senior editors were reluctant to incur. I was soon on the receiving end of her scorn over an infelicity of my rendering of “Mediterranean". "Reuters will not tolerate juniors who cannot spell," she thundered loud enough for all in the vicinity to hear.
After restricting me, as a result, to handling "briefs" - maximum three short-paragraph timeless stories which were posted (!) to subscribers, she eventually decided I was trustworthy enough to handle the longer situationers. I was encouraged to rewrite everything received from correspondents to meet her exacting, certainly rather conservative, standards. I trust I was not responsible for the butchering of any of Peter's pieces.
Speaking of Miss Penn (no-one would dare call her Muriel except Doon Campbell and Walton Cole), does anyone remember Jacques Pouteau, the Reuter theatre critic? He was one of her favourites and she simply beamed when he appeared. ■