COLIN DRURY: The woe of being a humble columnist

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IT was two years ago I received an email from a gentleman addressing me as F*** Face and referring me to an internet site set up in my honour. It was a Facebook hate group.

At first I laughed at ‘We Hate Colin Drury Of The Halifax Evening Courier’. Then I noticed it had more friends than my own profile. And I thought: well, blimey, there’s no denying that stings a bit. Perhaps, I should have expected the site.

For days I’d received emails questioning my parentage and suggesting my life expectancy might be somewhat shorter than a healthy 26-year-old could reasonably expect. For days, my editor had taken furious calls from readers demanding I be axed, and in many cases offering to do the axing. For days (in fact, for months) a colleague refused to speak to me.

Strange couple of weeks, all told. At times I felt perhaps like Rebekah Brooks does right now, only without the awesome hair, or possibly like Russell Brand did at the height of Sachsgate.

Anonymous trainee hack to Halifax’s most despised man. In 500 words.

I recalled the incident this week when I was asked to offer tips into the highs and lows of being a newspaper columnist.

The highs, I said, are generally how it gives you an incredible window to fill with your opinions and anecdotes; the lows are generally about midday on Tuesday when you realise your opinions are half-baked, your week’s best anecdote is how a vending machine coughed up two bags of Quavers when you paid for just one (take that, The Man), and there’s a designer looking over your shoulder asking if you can file something in, ohhh *looks at his watch* is about five minutes ago any good for you? No. Leave me alone. I’m only half way through. In any case, after I recalled my Facebook infamy I concluded to those polite enough to still be listening that, in this game, it is (a) important to have a thick skin, and (b) even more important to never ever, under any circumstances, write disparagingly about dogs.

Perhaps more specifically, never ever, under any circumstances, write disparagingly about dogs if it’s going to lead to a conclusion where you call for a cull of all family pets – including, as I think I did, my own aunt’s faithful Labrador.

I didn’t mean it, of course. It was written completely tongue-in-cheek and, I’ll not go into the hows and whys, was mainly intended to highlight my own petty vanities, insecurities and peculiarities.

But, all told, it was a pretty rubbish read and – on reflection, quite understandably – the readers weren’t happy.

In Britain we cherish our families and pets are family, and if you start suggesting a genocide of said pets you’re quite properly going to end up with a metaphorical (and, if people know where you live, probably a not-so-metaphorical) dog turd posted through your letter box.

It doesn’t matter how low on ideas you get for those opinions and anecdotes, innocent animals should be kept well out the firing line.

So where do you get your material, someone asked?

I shrugged. Sometimes you just have to babble for 500 words and hope no-one notices you’ve got nothing to say.