Cast Out the Pesky The Weekly: Maintaining Britain's Standards
The Midlands Stumbler

Mr Kill-Men

Sophisticated Embezzlement With The Complicity Of Someone In Senior Management Who Can Leave Access Available To Computer Files After Everyone Else Has Gone Home Jerome

The Permissionless Extensioner

Poppy Choppy
Penkethman Remembered
A portrait of Charles Michael by "Otter" of the Herald; probably 1951. The original, recently donated to the Erdington Museum, is signed in an unusually jocular moment, (Yikes! - Ed).
Sparky People
The 1978 Sparky strip, The Sparky People, spoofing the idea of the unseen, all-powerful publisher, was probably written by Charles Michael himself under a pseudonym. (Dick the Office Boy is the spitting image of the young Penkethman.)
Your Editor
The papers of the 1930s adopted the character of Your Editor, a nameless amalgam of the three or four sub-editors per title. Characteristically, Charles Michael despised these uncritical figures, existing as they did solely to publicise the next issue's contents, and often wrote in wishing them all dead. (Possibly an ironic comment on their exemption from call-up during World War One.)
The death of The Weekly's founder-editor, Charles Michal "Eddie" Penkethman (1891-1999), at the age of 108 on the very day of his keenly anticipated Glad You're Not Dead Yet party would have appealed greatly to the reasonably well-loved figure of publishing, though probably not as much as continuing to live. The Weekly was very much Penkethman's baby - the realisation of his long-cherished ambition to maintain Britain's standards in today's modern space-age atomic world, and something of a comeback after his 12 year "retirement" growing vegetable marrows. We who worked with this legendary editor, a visionary with astonishing reserves of energy, who irrevocably changed the way Eds were perceived and without whom magazines, comics, newspapers and books would be poorer indeed, here remember, on the anniversary of his taking up water-polo, his life and career with fondness and respect. Penkethman went to great lengths to own not only everything he did, but also everything everyone else did, and it is typical of the man that his final coherent act was to return the Science Combine's debentures and declare us free.

Charles Michael "Eddie" Penkethman. A great child. A great athlete. A great human being. Our story starts when Charles Michael is three-and-a-half years old. While the other children at the Doctor Meague Memorial Orphanage in Kirby Muxloe, Leicester, are interrupting their bedtime story to shout out advice to the characters, Sister Helen Boroughbridge notices Charles Michael remains at a distance, his sarcastic remarks displaying a causticity beyond his years. Despite their best efforts, the sisters are unable to break Charles Michael of the habit, and wearily accept lessons will be almost continually underscored with comments like, "You've just got that out of a book, haven't you?" and "Oh, I can't be bothered with this." Furtherly, he quickly develops an unusually emphatic speaking manner.

The sisters are not sorry to see Charles Michael leave at the age of eleven to begin work as a copy-boy for the Kent newspaper The Gazzette. His appointment coincides with an outbreak of influenza, and on his first day he is left single-handedly to oversee printing. The next morning's edition is bannered THE GAZZETTE, 1d. (That's "Gazette," you dolts. - Ed.) Inside, further errors are ridiculed, and in a correspondence column that usually features one full-page letter, there are an unprecedented eight, ruthlessly cut short with comments such as (Another six paragraphs of contradictory examples. - Ed) and (&c. - Ed).

It is impossible to overestimate the impact this would have had. In the unenlightened days of the turn of the century, owners and publishers reaped gigantic rewards from the millions-strong circulation of their papers while the staff - perhaps as few as two people for a national title - would commonly work 16-hour days. Unions were banned. The staff were unknown to their readers and had no job titles, referred to universally as "jacks," or jacks-of-all-trades, working constantly on all aspects of a paper. It was Charles Michael's revolutionary introduction of personality that inspired creative staff on other papers to fight for better conditions. You may remember from history lessons the successful 1902 struggle of Arthur Editor and his wife Production to win recognition for designers and proof-readers, in the process giving their names to the posts.

The furious publisher of The Gazzette sacked Charles Michael without references, but the wily copy-boy supplied his own, bolstered with recommendations like (He's great. - A publisher) and (I agree. - A press baron). At his next paper, The Clarion, the owner was clever enough to give him his head, and circulation rocketed as the public, excited by a fresh approach, watched gleefully to see which innocent correspondent or celebrity feature-writer would "get Eddied" next. (Charles Michael was constantly enraged at being little-known by his real name. More than one of his biographers have claimed his hurtful irony stems from frustration at never knowing why his childhood nickname was Eddie.)

It is from this period that arises the common Ed/editor confusion - as in the oft-quoted "Who's this Ed who's in charge then?" - for Charles Michael wasn't to be an editor until 1912, a position he held on one paper or another until his retirement in 1987. By then he'd made millions from radical investment and war profiteering, himself owning a string of magazines and newspapers, including The Gazzette, which he bought solely to have the name corrected and the publisher fired and hounded to his death. By definition working in the background, he has influenced generations of writers who have themselves gone on to be editors. The legendary November 7th, 1952 jam issue of The Dryfesdale Times, which had one line of the lead story interrupted by a Charles Michael "Ed comment" (as the form had come to be known), then the rest of the issue entirely taken up with a battle of hurtful irony between Charles Michael and the six best of his contemporaries, commands upwards of 8,516 from collectors.

Few today have heard of Charles Michael "Eddie" Penkethman, but none can deny the influence of the man who, it transpired at his funeral on May 13th, 1999, had directed his tombstone to read simply, (Aaarghh. - Ed). The Weekly joins the world of creative writing in general in paying tribute to this great man. (And that's quite enough of some old dead bloke. - Ed.)
Dolt setter

Seething contractor



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