Dear Reader: Conspiracy theories + I make Jenny Eclair grumpy

A weekly column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Flooding in Knaresborough last December. (Picture by Alex Lambley)

The day any news organisation worth its salt stops getting more input than it can feasibly handle is the day to worry about its future.

Luckily, this newspaper (website, Facebook page and Twitter handle) is usually swamped by enquiries, tip-offs and requests to follow something or other up as quickly as possible.

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Some are pieces of everyday news, others gripping or surprising and a few simply far-fetched.

As trained journalists with industry standards to maintain, we attempt to deal with them all.

Sometimes it’s just not possible, however, not so much for reasons of time but more because of a question of ethics or the law.

One topic still bubbling away is flooding and North Yorkshire County Council’s current investigation into the devastating affects of Storm Frank last December.

Working hand in hand with the Environment Agency, the council is looking at the total of 15 communities in our area which were flooded, Tadcaster and Knaresborough being the worse-hit, though homes in Harrogate and Ripon also suffered.

The investigations are still ongoing but some readers have already offered their own explanations as to why, for example, the River Nidd burst its banks so badly and just who was to blame.

And it’s the latter part where the tricky part can often lie.

Without solid information, a good story evaporates.

Everyone loves a conspiracy theory but, without the facts, there are some waters it’s too dangerous for any responsible news organisation to take the plunge into.

I like to think I’m okay at keeping a secret, which may sound a strange thing for someone who earns a living from journalism to say.

But sometimes my record proves the exact opposite,

When I do let something slip out, it’s purely by accident, you understand.

When it happens, as it did last week when interviewing comedienne Jenny Éclair on the phone, it comes as a surprise even to me.

I was talking to the Perrier Award-winning chatterbox comic to about her starring role in the latest touring version of Grumpy Old Women which comes to Harrogate tomorrow, Friday.

Interviewing her on the phone in a break from her schedule, this likable comedienne seemed, well, a little too happy.

That was until the conversation turned to the current series of popular British gangster series Peaky Blinders.

Jenny told me she had just been catching up on the previous night’s episode during some down time on the road in some dubious b&b.

“It’s a great show,” I said, “have you watched the bit where Tommy gets kidnapped?” I asked her excitedly.

There was a long pause on the phone before Jenny replied with a single word.


At least she sounded properly grumpy now.