Fishing for a Story

"I was once faced with the problem of entertaining millions of readers," the columnist Nathaniel Gubbins once recalled, "with the description of the last rites of a famous actress.

"She had been born in a fishing village where she was to be buried and it occurred to me that some old fisherman might have taught her to row a boat when she was a girl.

"A round of the pubs in the evening, buying drinks for ancientfishermen, seemed to prove that she hadn't, but I eventually found anacquiescent and intoxicated old man, and informed him quite bluntlythat he had, in fact, taught the actress to row when she was a little girl, but that he had forgotten it.

"I then went out and bought a bunch of flowers, wrote an inscription, 'To and from, with love,' and gave them to the astonished old man with a ten-shilling note, and told him to be at the graveside next day with the flowers and inscription.

"He turned up rather late, still intoxicated, and the inscription, which was carefully copied out by the local correspondents, appeared in most of the papers -- even The Times, I think."

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