It might have been a folk tale but when I resided in that great city of Manchester, it was said that on a slow news day, the newspaper sellers would put the headline ” The Pope;no news!” headline on their little boxes from where they dispensed their wares. This was in fact true, within the pages of their papers there was no news of the Pope. So it was all factually true a it shifted quite a few of the papers as there are many Roman Catholics in the City ( generally the Manchester United supporters ) and quite a few protestants ( Manchester City supporters ) who might look just to see if they had grounds to upset the United supporters.
The sellers themselves would wear a non-commital scarf and the “endless” gloves were an essential fashion accessory, especially in the cold weather.
This is another drawing from the Missing Persons book and what follows are Gordon’s words from the book and give a flavour of the type.
Any sightings should be reported to the Natural History Museum.
There are plenty of people who stand about selling papers but specimens of Newspaper Seller must, by definition, be recognisable in the dusk and rain by their cries alone. Saying ‘Big Issue? Have a nice day’ in a polite, self-effacing tone does not make one a Newspaper Seller, quite honestly.
The real thing was ever unmistakable. Anyone from north east Yorkshire would be able to infer from the distant cry of ‘Baybay! Scabbay! Baybay!’ that they were on the other side of the clearing from a man offering the paper, the Scarborough paper. That it was called the Evening News was a matter widely understood and so unnecessary to mention.
Strangers to the famous port 40 miles south would instantly realise that the man selling the late editions of the Hull Daily Mail was the one crying ‘Hawdiwinnahs! Skinnywinnahs!’ Like everybody else in Hull, with the possible exception of the specimen himself, they would never know the wherefore but would buy the paper anyway and without asking about the undernourishment of victorious horses.
In the Great Wen all those thousands of office mice, hurrying down their holes at the end of the day, used to lift their heads briefly at the familiar call of ‘Tennerh! Ee-inn! Tennerh!’ and, without looking at Newspaper Seller, drop a few coins into an outstretched hand in exchange for a copy of the Standard, the Evening Standard.On Sundays, no members of the type were ever seen. Nobody knew where they went. Possibly they hibernated for the day, venturing forth only to the corner shop to purchase a copy of the Tie, Sunnay Tie, or possibly the Zerv Erah, or maybe the Noodawer-eh.Scientists are still trying to prove that Working Men’s Club and Institute Singing Man has evolved from Newspaper Seller, for some reason.