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27 JTS columns from the Guardian newspaper, never before reprinted


"I've got nothing whatever to write about this week; which at least should make it easier to understand."

Roger Stanger is a Jack Trevor Story  reader and collector of long standing. He contacted me a few months back  (in 2002) when he discovered this site, and contributed some texts from his collection to my pages, including the excellent short story, Native Air.
Now he has followed up with an incredible 27 pieces from the Guardian, 1972 -1973, none of which has been reprinted since its first publication. Many of Jack's columns were of course preserved for posterity in the books Letters to an Intimate Stranger and Jack on the Box. Here are some which weren't. Huge thanks to Roger for contributing them.
To underline the enormity of Roger's task, I should point out that he didn't scan these 27 columns, due to poor quality of his original texts, but re-typed them completely!

− Guy Lawley

In the table of contents below, the comments on the columns are Roger's own.

As always, the little grey button links to the text.

  1. Grumbling Brakedrumitis   (Spring 1972)

"Grumbling Brakedrumitis" is missing the date, I'm afraid, but as Maggie is depicted as working at London University I reckon it to belong to the immediate period before she disappeared to work in Brussels. One wonders whether the present day Guardian would allow anyone to get away with lines like "we sho is" or "ah sho am" and references to witch doctors but it was three decades ago.

  2. Going Concerned   (10 June 72)

"Going Concerned" contains a rare reference to his run-in with the police in Notting Hill. JTS avoided writing about this directly for years, not until his 1980 introduction to Michael Moorcock's novel "The Russian Intelligence" can we find any direct references.

  3. Hemingway Wasn't Built in a Day   (1 July 72)
  4. Novel Approaches   (5 Aug 72)

Lee Story's novel "A Terminus Place" was published by Michael Joseph on 21 August 1972 but it never made a paperback edition as far as I know nor even a second hardback edition. I had it on order from W H Smiths in Kensington but for some reason it failed to show up and I can't say I ever saw it in any other bookshop. An old girlfriend of mine who worked for the Fulham Library in those days put one of those inter-library requests in for me but that was a negative as well. The comment made in this piece by JTS that most first novels remain a closely guarded secret between the publisher, the author and his friends was certainly true! [GL writes: I found one lonely copy on the Advanced Book Exchangesee Links page−for 45.00 plus P&P, for sale by a Canadian dealer. Neither Roger nor I jumped at that chance!] I don't think Lee Story ever wrote another book.

  5. The Other Side of Paradise   (12 Aug 72)

The reference here to C S Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters" does show where Story got the alternative paperback) title to his 1979 novel "Up River" - "The Screwrape Lettuce"

  6. Facts and Fictions   (26 Aug 72)

  7. Tutankhamun, Go Home   (2 Sept 72)

Either JTS or the Guardian sub-editors decided that the correct spelling for the boy pharaoh was Tutankhamun rather than Tutankhamen which nearly everyone else prefers! I've left it as it originally appeared. The exhibition of the Mummy together with all the artifacts from the tomb was at the Royal Academy in the summer of 1972 and we all blamed everything on it: the weather, the economy, everything.

   8. Holidays Without Tears   (9 Sept 72)

   9. Pregnant Pages   (16 or 23 Sept 72)

"Pregnant Pages" is another piece which is missing the date but it from internal evidence it clearly belongs to September 1972 but not sure which Saturday (16th or 23rd). Incidentally here and in a number of other columns JTS includes quotes from what was then his novel in progress ("Crying Makes Your Nose Run") - the psychiatrist character is always called Dr Stroh in these Guardian pieces but the name was changed to Dr Strom for the actual novel.

  10. Between Affairs   (30 Sept 72)

The opening sentence about the cigarette and the photo refers to one of the tiny photographs of JTS that used to run at the top of each column (not good enough to scan, I'm afraid). In several he is smoking - another thing today's Guardian probably wouldn't allow.

  11. Natural Hazards   (21 Oct 72)

Note the reference to "The Bedside Guardian" [an annual book collection of pieces from the newspaper] which never seemed to contain any of Story's stuff.

  12. Dustbins in the Sky   (18 Nov 72)

An early reference to Ellie (Elaine) in this piece.

  13. Woolly Wonderland   (2 Dec 72)

  14. Past Imperfect   (23 Dec 72)

  15. Between Chapters   (30 Dec 72)

"Between Chapters" is an extended advertisement for "Crying Makes Your Nose Run" for which JTS was still desperately trying to find a publisher. All the extracts and page numbers must come from his typescript and I haven't checked to see whether they relate to the final printed version. [Me neither! And that's another book you won't often see on the ABE or anywhere else.] Strom is still Stroh, of course.

  16. You Can't Use Jack Any More   (3 Feb 73)

  17. You and the Stars and Hot Bread Pud   (10 Feb 73)

  18. A Tainted Valentine   (17 Feb 73)

Notice also how these columns never fitted standard lengths, Story was very lucky to have a features editor who would simply accept whatever number of words he submitted each week: "You can't use Jack" runs to around 800 words while "Hot Bread Pud" comes in at just under 2000 words and "Valentine" at 1500 words. Present day columnists would never be allowed that freedom. Different days.

  19. Theda Bara of the North   (24 Feb 73)

  20. Looking to Lorel   (31 March 73)
  21. Thank You, Scott Fitzgerald   (5 May 73)
  22. Squirrel Juice   (26 May 73)
  23. This Little Piggy   (2 June 73)

By this time Story's Guardian writing was becoming rather difficult for many general, i.e. non-fan, readers, he was only a couple of months away from being sacked altogether. Letters from confused readers must have arrived every week. In "This Little Piggy" he spends the whole column "explaining" what he had written in "Squirrel Juice", building everything around a letter received from one R C Hope of Blackheath Grove, although you have to wonder how many of the puzzled readers - his "disappointments" - had a clearer picture of things afterwards. In the few remaining columns left he would still make occasional references to the unfortunate Hope.

  24. Castles in the Sun   (9 June 73)

  25. Acorn Rising   (16 June 73)

"Acorn Rising" refers back to an earlier column called "Maggie Come Home" which can be found in "Letters To An Intimate Stranger".

  26. Knock on Wood   (23 June 73)

Note also the running joke references to Hope in both "Acorn Rising" and "Knock on Wood".

  27. Grasshopper Mine   (7 July 73)

"Grasshopper Mine" is the last of these uncollected Guardian pieces.


As far as I'm aware there were only two more columns (both to be found in "Jack on the Box").

I think the last one may have been "Hungry Pie" from July 21st with its closing lines: "Maggie every bloody Saturday might have seemed like obsessive self-indulgence (who am I kidding?) but it's also a trot around your own back yard".


Jack Trevor Story's texts copyright   the estate of Jack Trevor Story 2002. Not for reproduction. Copyright in all work by Jack Trevor Story is the property of the author's heirs. Permission for use of this material can be obtained through Jackie Edwards (Story), Peter Story, Lee Story or Michael Moorcock. Reproduction of copyright material whether in text, visual or audio form by unauthorised sources strictly forbidden.

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