From the start, a young Michael Frayn’s post-Cambridge stint with the Manchester Guardian in 1957 had the sense of an ending. He imbibed the paper’s taste for “the idiosyncratic, the odd, the whimsical, particularly anything connected with the folk traditions of the industrial northwest” such as “last surviving clogmakers,” while working in a reporters’ room with “two telephones, kept shut away in soundproof cabins, and ancient typewriters on even more ancient desks that were sloped for writing by hand.”
A decade later his sublime novel, Towards the End of the Morning, gently skewered Fleet Street’s vanishing customs. The heart of Britain’s newspaper industry, Frayn would write from the vast retrospect of 2005, “was coming towards the end not just of the morning, but of the afternoon as well, and the shades of night were gathering fast.”
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