The pirates of Parkham
Thursday 2 May, 2013
This WI report appeared in standard one-par form in the North Devon Journal. Apart from being one long sentence, it was a model nib - the work of a professional. Congratulations!
But what was going on in the newsroom that it appeared in that form? Didn't anyone recognise a fun story when it landed in their lap? Or maybe it was simply that no one had the time to stop and think.
The Journal's head of content Owen Jones obviously did as he trawled through the small print when the paper appeared this morning. He tweeted the snippet and within a couple of hours it had taken Twitter by storm.
Hats off, then, to the online team for a quick recovery on the This is North Devon website that encompasses the Journal. They uploaded the entire WI report, got a quote from the speaker and, most important of all, secured the picture, below, that we all wanted to see.
But that wasn't the end to it. As the story was tweeted and retweeted, broadcasters were queueing up to join in the fun. Jon Kay, the BBC's West of England correspondent, gathered the women - and Captain Darch - together for the light slot on the six o' clock news, presenting that true Englishness that is all big heart and none of the bigotry displayed by rampant nationalists.
The WI's next guest speaker would, we learnt in the pay-off line, be talking about 'ladies of the night....dressing up optional.'
The whole episode has been a delight on a day when the news was dominated by right-wing election spats, child molestation, killings and workplace bullying.
We suddenly have two Owen Joneses as Twitter superstars and Jon Kay is already picturing the pirates of Parkham as Calendar Girls II - the women who made headlines not for what they took off, but for what they put on.
Who's to say he's wrong?