A new book released next month draws together some of the most comical and bizarre stories produced by Britain’s local press.
The title – ‘Whitstable Mum in Custard Shortage… And Other World Exclusives from Britain’s Finest Local Newspapers’ – alludes to the Whitstable Times’ now legendary tale of a mum of three’s fruitless attempts to find custard in the seaside town.
Other stories in the book, published by Penguin, include ‘Oven removed from home”, ‘No flood warnings for North Somerset’and ‘Smug swans attack dalmatian”.
Joel Rickett, an editorial director at Penguin, said: ‘We set off about looking online, wrote directly to papers and asked journalists themselves. Hundreds responded.’
He added: “It was brilliant. Almost every paper we contacted allowed us to use their stories.”
The Argus in Brighton tops the list with 14 stories including ‘Hunt for Worthing ‘Poo Thief'”, ‘Yawning almost killed man’and ‘Mystery of wheelchair left in Shoreham pub”.
The Leicester Mercury is featured five times with such gems as ‘Road stays open”, ‘Victims sue over toxic sofas’and ‘Elderly terrified by food fight”.
The Isle of Wight County Press has four stories featured in the book including ‘Woman found in Germany’and ‘Guides delighted with their rubbish award”.
The Norwich Evening News crops up four times with stories such as: ‘Goldfish catch sparks debate”, ‘Cat hops into delivery van’and ‘Small fire in oven”.
Explaining the inspiration behind the book, Rickett said: ‘I have always been obsessed with what makes local news. I find it interesting how news is often non-news.”
Though the book pokes fun at the press, Rickett added: ‘Putting the book together showed me the incredible lengths to which local reporters will go to get a story, and to make sure it is well sourced,’he said.
‘In almost all the articles the journalists have tracked down multiple comments and then provided a real sense of closure for their readers. They tell the stories that bind us together.”
Whitstable Mum in Custard Shortage… And Other World Exclusives from Britain’s Finest Local Newspapers will be available from all major booksellers from 13 October.