Tuesday, 25 August 2009

40: On going to an AA meeting by mistake and not being a farmer anymore

Issue 40, winter 2004/2005

So here we are my friends, 40 issues and 10 years down the line.

Actually it’s a little more than ten years as Cornish World first came off the press in June 1994, and took a six month halt around four years ago when the future of the publication was in the balance.

Now Cornish World is stronger than ever.
The magazine is bigger than ever, the circulation is at its highest ever with subscribers at record levels. What started off as a 40 page publication has now swollen to the current size of 80 pages. Cornish World remains the same; presenting strong and interesting features from Cornwall about Cornwall.

I have never felt better about Cornish World or about journalism as a whole. I used to milk cows and cut turnips for a living and so it was quite a change from sitting behind a tractor steering wheel to sitting behind a computer. Father was hellish when I told him first but he understands now; farming idn’t like it used to be.
When I first gave up my wellies for writing, I worked as reporter for a local newspaper. As a new recruit to the newsroom, my job was to cover meetings; councils, Women’s Institutes, committees, anywhere where more than five people sat down for a chat.

One Christmas I was sent to cover a meeting of the Newlyn Association – an organisation concerned with the welfare of the port and its inhabitants. I was, naturally, late and so when I arrived at the Newlyn Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen I was a little flustered and dreading the thought at having to walk to the front of a meeting that had already started, perch myself on the press bench and explain my lateness.

I entered the building and not knowing where exactly to go, stumbled into the first room with an open door. There around ten men were sitting in a circle. It all seemed very informal for a meeting but, I thought, some meetings are like that. There was a smell of beer and wine in the air, but it was Christmas and people like an early drink in the season of good will.

A man came in with a file, sat in the circle and I got my notepad out ready to take down stories.

He looked at me and said: “You’re new and you’re very welcome here.”

“Thank you,” I said.

“Would you like to start?” he added.

“Yes,” I said somewhat bewildered “Hello, my name is Nigel Pengelly and I am a reporter for The Cornishman.”

“Hmm,” said the man with the file and nodded to man next to me prompting him to speak.

The man next to me, who I recognised from somewhere, looked shamefully down at his feet and said: “I’ve relapsed this week and it has not been as good as it could have been.”

I wrote down his quote word for word.

“My name is Andy and I am still an alcoholic,” he added.

I looked at my notes and it suddenly dawned. I was sitting in on a meeting of the local Alcoholics Anonymous.

I stuttered something about being in the wrong room and made to leave but the meeting organiser bid me to sit down, be brave and tell my story.

My plea that I was here to write stories took a while to get through to the group who were encouragingly supportive to my apparent shyness.

Eventually, I left the room and wished them well and found the Newlyn Association meeting, now halfway through the agenda, on the top floor.

So when setting out anywhere always make sure you know where you are going and be respectful to those you meet on the way. You never know when you’ll see them again.

Wishing you all the best for the new year and the next ten years.

Nigel Pengelly, Editor.
Pictured: Nigel Pengelly happy at the office of Cornish World.


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