Remembering a fine News Letter writer from a cast of thousands over our long history

News Letter editorial of Thursday November 4 2021:

By Editorial
Thursday, 4th November 2021, 9:31 am
Updated Thursday, 4th November 2021, 12:01 pm
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Last night a small but enthusiastic group of people gathered in the Duke of York pub in Belfast to pay tribute to a great newspaper writer (see link below).

Ralph ‘Bud’ Bossence died 50 years ago yesterday, aged a mere 56.

He was a hugely popular News Letter columnist, writing about his life as a sometimes cantankerous bachelor.

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His columns were outwardly full of mishaps and grumbles but actually funny and insightful and compassionate.

Yet inevitably, with the passage of time, few readers of this newspaper today will remember Bud, unless they are now past retirement age.

Whenever an error or a inappropriate item appeared in a newspaper, people used to jokingly play down the significance of the fact that it was recorded in print by saying it is “tomorrow’s chip paper”. But it is true that there is, inevitably, an ephemeral quality to the content of papers, which come out day after day. Yet Bud Bossence is someone whose writing has survived and is still enjoyed today.

A cast of thousands has produced the volumes of News Letters that have been produced since this, the world’s oldest English language daily paper, was first published in 1737.

It is more output than any one person could feasibly read.

For the first 200 years of this paper there was barely such a thing as a columnist. There were no sports reports pre 1890s.

Why? Because life was harder and such concepts were luxuries and rarities.

Now newspapers such as this one have scores of pages of information, on matters from leisure to crime to puzzles to weather.

And modern newspapers have always included writers whom people just want to read, including in this edition the satirist Tim McGarry, if you turn to page 19.

Ralph Bud Bossence was a local pioneer in the sort of observational writing that readers savour for pleasure, Fifty years after his death, his work lives on.

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