‘All this — and Everest too!’

  • What’s an editor to do when a string of big stories — all worthy of being front page news — land on your desk just as you are about to go to press?

    60 years ago, the Daily Express dealt with this conundrum deftly in the famous headline: “All this — and Everest too”.

    That was how the paper summed up the feelings of a jubilant nation on 2 June 1953 (the day of The Queen’s Coronation) when the news that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had scaled Mount Everest came through.

    Now I don’t pretend that Monday’s (8 July) events at H&H Towers were anything like as seismic, although there was a Royal connection.

    But the revelations that a pregnant Zara Phillips — and Team GBR stalwart Mary King — were off the squad for the Europeans, while our golden London 2012 dressage riders would be reunited were dynamite for the horse world.

    We quickly spiked the lead story we’d prepared (you’ll see it in a couple of weeks’ time), did the Starbucks run for a round of double espressos and took a few deep breaths…

    …And then an email from Badminton Horse Trials pinged into my inbox.

    Course designer Hugh Thomas — who has taken a pasting from some senior riders for this year’s course — was standing down.

    This in itself was a momentous story. Badminton has only had 2 designers since its inception in 1949; the legendary Colonel Frank Weldon — and Hugh. Now, the Italian, Giuseppe della Chiesa is to take over.

    Once the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the office subsided, we opted — at a brief news conference — to put the Badminton story on page 6, and split the double page spread across pages 4 and 5 between the team news and Zara’s pregnancy.

    In any normal week, any of these stories would have commanded the lead spot, across pages 4 and 5.

    Relegating Hugh Thomas’s resignation to page 6 felt very odd — and frustrating. I’d have loved to be able to explore it further, but there simply wasn’t the space. In slipping this out, had Badminton, I wondered, decided it was a good day to bury bad news? (To quote that notorious New Labour special advisor on 9/11.)

    Through the long winter months at H&H especially, we have to work very hard to find strong news stories, spotting trends and working our contacts books to keep the readers informed and entertained.

    The God of News was certainly bounteous on Monday. But my goodness, I wish he’d spread it out a bit!

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