My first problem as a writer is coming up with a compelling opening paragraph. The harder I try, the more contrived it becomes. Very occasionally I succeed but, exhausted by the effort, the rest of the story just peters out.

As a result I have some sympathy for the jobbing journos on local newspapers who week after week are expected to create not one, but several eye-catching stories even during a week where nothing much has happened on their patch at all. The magazine, The Oldie, has regularly printed examples of such non-stories in  their column Not Many Dead, and some years ago they compiled an  short anthology using the same title.

Here are a few of my favourites from the section on local papers, reflecting the sometimes less than giddy pace of life we experience in the provinces. I’ve selected them because, behind the sheer banality of the stories, and the somewhat tedious attention to detail, there is  a hint of unexplored depths of human emotion and drama behind the incident – the starting points for a series of cracking new stories perhaps? (Though making something compelling out of the last example would, I feel, be a bit of a challenge for even the most creative writers among us.)

A forty-five minute discussion between parish councillors resulted in the decision that each item on the agenda should take ten minutes. BURTON MAIL.

Four Forest Heath councillors mingled with royalty when they attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace. NEWMARKET JOURNAL

A security guard on patrol at a building site in Liversedge last week, returned to his office to find thieves had stolen two packets of peanuts. Police believe that one packet was salted and the other dry-roasted. DEWSBURY PRESS

Glossop Police were called to Manor Park on Friday night. A resident had found an injured duck and also called an RSPCA officer. The duck was taken to Victoria Vets at 9pm but died at 9.30pm, with the Police present. GLOSSOP CHRONICLE

Thirty middle-aged people went to a summer solstice rave in a field by the Thanet Way, near the Roman Galley on Saturday night. A public order official told them to leave by 9am on Sunday, which they did. ISLE OF THANET GAZETTE

An unnamed lady cyclist was not badly hurt when she fell off her bike in Burgess Hill. BRIGHTON ARGUS

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