‘Queer’ Strikes Back At News Of The World

The following appeared in the News of the World, under the heading “John Field Column” on February 11th:-

Warn Them

There is one word in the English language calculated to get me blazing mad. It is spelt q-u-e-e-r-s.

Five of these creatures turned up at a Midlands school conference on sex. One addressed the pupils.

In heavens name, school children should be WARNED about homosexuals, not asked to LISTEN to them. Could the subject not have been dealt with by someone who was not himself a confessed homosexual?

I don’t believe that pansies are men who can’t help being odd and should be pitied. What they want is a lecture on self discipline.

Any strange men thinking of writing me cross letters need not bother. I shall burn them.

Sympathetic Stockist

Jim Harris, a friendly and sympathetic Gay News stockist, of Smiths Newsagents (no relation to W.H.) in Moscow Road, Bayswater was outraged on reading the article, and on Monday morning rang the News of the World, and told one of the women who wouldn’t put him through to John Field, “I’m one of the queer persons you talked about and I’m not stocking the News of the World any more.” Gay News will go on top of the counter. He was eventually put through to the editor who glibly agreed to pass on his complaint.

Two days later a member of the News of the World ‘Mafioso’ appeared and declared that if Jim Harris refused to sell his scandal sheet, they’d put a street seller outside the shop. “I understand my son. He reads Oz and Rolling Stone.” said the heavy. Jim’s response was, “You’re not allowed to peddle in the street without a licence.”

Jim says “The News of the World is a big drag. Gay Society is generally so indifferent – so often they say … ‘tut-tut – I’ll forget all about the issue at stake’. The prime reason for striking at the News of the World’s circulation now is to win the apathetic section around.” He suggests all Gay News readers stop buying the News of the World forthwith — they’d be the losers. There must be a million of us ready and waiting, and this is just the start of it – if we can really move it…

Is there such a person as John Field?

“He’s a bit elusive on Wednesdays,” say the News of the World. Jim Harris wants a public apology, or a chance for gays to answer back. “If I read an article defamatory to gays in anything I sell I’ll ban outright.”

Marion, Jim’s assistant says of the News of the World, “Filth, that’s all it is, their paper.”

Fun on the Phone

We telephoned News of the World, seeking to speak to John Field and after being shunted around several different extensions, which are probably all employed for that purpose, we got a promise that he’d ring us back, which was indeed fulfilled some ten minutes later. The conversation went thus:

News of the World: Hello, you wanted to speak to me?

Gay News: Yes, who is that?

NOW: I currently write the John Field Column.

GN: Oh, great – you’re John Field.

NOW: No.

GN: Oh, then who are you?

NOW: That’s none of your business. Tell me what you want to know and we’ll talk.

GN: Well, tell me your name and we’ll talk.

NOW: I see. Good afternoon, (they rang off.)

Eventually their Features Editor referred us to Phillip Wrack, (Tel: 01-353 3030 ext. 306) who admits to writing the John Field column on occasions and didn’t deny writing this one. He pointed out that the John Field column is not the leader and therefore needn’t reflect editorial policy for the News of the World, but declined to comment, as did the features editor, as to whether or not this particular column was a joint editorial decision.

He refused to discuss his views on “treatment of homosexuals” but suggested our caller might care to write to him.

“But your column states you’ll burn my letter,” we replied, to which he said, “That’s right.” He then asked which paper we represented and when told it was Gay News, said “Look, old boy, I really haven’t the time to discuss our affairs with the Gay Lib News or whatever you call yourselves. I can only suggest you write to us.” He declined to comment on the question of Jim Harris, and said, “Be careful what you write or we shall sue you for libel.”

We then spoke to the circulation manager who said, commenting on their heavy’s visit to Jim Harris’s shop: “We hope we shall get a fair crack of the whip. We don’t want to suffer. We don’t want our circulation to drop two million overnight, and why are we being discriminated against when the other Sundays aren’t. We have no wish to use strong arm tactics unless it’s absolutely necessary because we don’t have any other means of persuasion. We hope we shall get a fair crack of the whip.”

We replied, “We shall be as fair to vour paper as you are to the homosexuals of Britain.”

Says a card in Jim Harris’s shop: “To know nothing is nothing at all – to imagine is everything.”

Leave a Reply