Cropredy competition: the dying hours, and news of a winner
Alan Johnston is freed

Cropredy awaits: Martin found safe and sound

As noted briefly yesterday - adding a Stop Press took me back to local evening newspaper days - the Cropredy competition was won by Martin Sellers.

His name was chosen at random from those of readers who correctly answered my question on who wrote Dave Swarbrick's premature obituary for the Daily Telegraph.

He wins a pair of tickets for Fairport Convention's Cropredy festival next month and I will now be putting Martin and the Fairport office in communication with each other.

And I am pleased to report that after initial concern about the whereabouts of Martin, he has reappeared, explaining that one of his e-mail addresses has been playing up. So he stays the winner and I will be putting him in touch with the Cropredy folk to ensure that he collects his pair of festival tickets.

The author of the article to which my question referred was Colin Irwin. It was not his fault that it appeared and nor, though I had a hand in commissioning the obituary, was it mine. Swarb had indeed been very ill at the time; newspapers very sensibly make preparations in advance when someone notable seems in danger of dying.

The piece written, it then found its way into the Telegraph because of a misunderstanding, not the first to occur in newspaper history. I was in Skopje at the time, covering the Kosovo conflict, and knew nothing of the error until the following evening when another batch of journalists flew in; one of them tossed that day's Telegraph at me, urging me to read the "best correction I've ever seen in a paper".

Luckily, Swarb came to see the funny side of it and was really quite pleased to have been able to read such a complimentary appraisal of his life.

I told him when I interviewed him in 2003 that my part-namesake was the author, and I sought Colin Irwin's permission to use his identity as my competition question.

Another reader pointed out that I was wrong to think I had found a question to which the internet did not provide a spoil-the-fun answer, but that, I am afraid, is a function of the age. My thanks, incidentally, to Fairport Convention for cooperating with the competition.

Meanwhile, the fame of Salut! Live is spreading. From Chipping Norton came a request, readily granted of course, to reproduce my two-part Simon Nicol interview at this site .


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