The Ashton Standard

A couple of months ago a lady kindly gave me an old family bible that had been in her family for years. The reason that I knew the woman, and presumably this led her to choose me to donate the bible to, was that I had conducted the funeral of her son, who had died suddenly and by all accounts rather tragically.

The bible is amazing, and old, and big, and in a language that I don’t find terribly readable. And, come to think of it, in a size that I don’t find terribly readable. I was really touched that this lady wanted to give me this heirloom.

As I was looking through the giant tome I discovered a four-page spread of The Ashton Standard, published on Saturday, August 6 1859. It is quite amazing. What a completely different worldview, and way of doing journalism. Take this story, for example:

A PUN PUN-ISHED. — A gentleman of the name of Man, residing near a private madhouse, met one of its poor inhabitants, who had broken from its keeper. The maniac suddenly stopped, and, resting upon a large stick, exclaimed, “Who are you, sir?” The gentleman was rather alarmed, but, thinking to divert his attention by a pun, replied, “I am a double man; I am a Man by name and a man by nature.” “Are you so?” rejoined the other; “why, I am a man beside myself, so we two will fight you too.” He then knocked down poor Man and ran away.

What, in the name of the wee Man, was that story all about?! I can imagine the journalist arriving, red-faced and out-of-breath at the Standard office. “Have I got the story of the week for you,” he’d exclaim excitedly before rushing to his typewriter, banging on the keys and pulling out the above copy to hand to his editor. He sits back in his reporter’s chair, takes another deep draw from his ‘special’ cigarette before returning to next story. “And this one is about tigers and slippers meeting at a dentists!”

More from The Ashton Standard when I can bring myself to stop laughing enough to type it out.