Rory Shabeen, Ace Newshound


Readers of the WISP column were alerted last time out to the contempt I feel for “journalists who are pathetic writers yet earn a living from it”. Luckily, I suppose, those same readers are perhaps not too familiar with the Daily Mess, the newspaper (and more useful chip shop wrap) that is published in my fictitious city of Manchester. (See Every Street in Manchester, Manchester Kiss.)

In fairness, of course, it must be said that the Daily Mess has laboured overlong under the editorship of the obsequious and (privately) foul-mouthed Andrew Gutter, RD [Readers Digest], who for his part has gone out of his way to nurture a brood of writers that is second to none and, indeed, first to none either.

Amongst them are Trivia Bullworker, the skenning beautician (trans. squinting, Tamla Mowtoon, the tone deaf Geordie music critic; and Tex Crowshoot, the dyslexic idiotorial writer. Concerning the dubious abilities of which specimens, Andrew Gutter has been known to lament long and loud down the press club after hours and a crate or two of Guinness: ‘It’s a team to serve up kin Pulitzers a-plenty if only the kin judges would turn the kin fairground organ music down a kin touch!’

But readers of WISP are perhaps less well-acquainted with the weekly contribution to the Daily Mess of ace newshound and fellow inebriate, Rory Shabeen, AG’s second cousin, once removed. I refer to the 400-word epic that appears under the by-line When R.S. Eyes Are Smiling top a mugshot of Shabeen’s grim physog of which the Daily Mess’s Streetsmart contributor, Graeme Motormouth was once heard to opine: ‘Strangeways rooftop revisited, methinks.’

Thereby, ’tis said – that is to say, by means of this sparse weekly verbiage, just 400-strong, an entire pack of Siberian timber wolves has been deterred from falling upon Shabeen’s door whereon they might well have whetted more than their milk teeth.

Verily, Rory Shabeen, ace newshound that he be, waxes weekly, as heretofore indicated, witty, wacky, wet, woesome – and occasionally, as he happened to do last week, wi-ligious, too.

er, religious, too.

In this latter instance Shabeen was singing the praises of Fr Finbar O’Fugg, to whom he referred as “A humble, charismatic priest”, though to my certain knowledge, this is hardly the case.

True, Fr O’Fugg has long undertaken the Guardianship of the relics of SS Azure & Crosstitch, Patronesses of the Purple Rinse & Twin Set. But that’s about it, let me tell you.

Even so, Rory Shabeen drooled on with sycophantic abandon, ‘’Tis 50 years since Fr O’Fugg came amongst us, so I offer a quiet prayer of thanksgiving for his vocation.’

One, two, three . . . Well, that’s 20 words at least, isn’t it? Only 380 to go. Which I personally intend to supply (see below), the self-same words I despatched to ace newshound Rory Shabeen forthwith. (True!) Words which ace newshound Rory Shabeen never will get around to publishing. (Truer!) . . .

The island of Crete is 90 miles long. But some years ago, whilst holidaying there, I drove 120 miles to Mass.

Here’s how it came about.

I drove from Malia to Heraklion midweek to check on the times of Mass; then with my family aboard, drove back to Heraklion on the Saturday evening, looking to attend the Vigil Mass. Unbeknownst to me, though, my watch had stopped, making us late for Mass. So we ended up attending Mass on the Sunday.

You may well understand, then, my sheer exasperation upon our return home to hear Fr Finbar O’Fugg was of the opinion that ‘English people don’t attend Mass on holiday’.

Perhaps you would oblige me, then, after “offering a quiet prayer of thanksgiving for [Fr O’Fugg’s] vocation”, by reciting the Prayer for England, too, with a view to strengthening this Mancunian’s sense of Christian forbearance?

Yours faithfully,

Bill Keeth

Author of: Every Street in Manchester, Manchester Kiss, Write It Self-Publish It Sell It, Four Years to Life, Boost Your Pocket Money & Pension – a Winner’s Guide to Buy-to-Let Property Investment.

(10 July 2013)

Bill Keeth’s books, Every Street in Manchester, Manchester Kiss, Write It Self-Publish It Sell It, Four Years to Life, Boost Your Pocket Money & Pension – a Winner’s Guide to Buy-to-Let Property Investment. are available from Amazon and all good book shops. Bill can also be contacted via his website,

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