Last Updated: Tuesday, 3rd February, 2004
Boar. Bloody stupid name.
An explanation for the inexplicable. Why ever was the Student Newspaper christened Boar? By Godfrey Rust, the Boar's first editor.
I think it all began like this.|
I assumed the editorship of Campus at the end of my first year in 1973. I don’t remember being elected, just assumed. If you were daft enough to want to miss a night’s sleep every week and spend it hunting for sheets of Letraset which hadn’t had all the Gs used up, then it was assumed to be your turn.
I inherited the best traditions of journalistic discipline. I remember fondly the terse one-page guideline on the office noticeboard, ‘How To Write A News Story’, which included the indelibly memorable question ‘How many fire engines were there?’. Every story I wrote in my first year the answer was ‘None’.
But it was generally felt it was time that the old paper was in need of a facelift - and that name had to go. We wanted something that would convey a sense of instant history to cover up the (then) appalling newness of the place (and encourage more Americans to invest).
Sitting in the Pennyfarthing Bar, Kasper de Graaf and I pooled our vast knowledge of local heraldry. Coventry, we thought, had an elephant as its symbol, and Warwick had a bear. Or perhaps it was the other way around.
Anyway, neither of these had the required cachet. After experiments with other possible fauna we stumbled on the idea of a boar. Exactly whose the idea was I no longer remember, but I am certain that draught bitter was only 13p a pint.
The pun was dreadful, but it was my round and there seemed to be no-one to stop us (curiously neither of us have any memories at all of any democratic accountability in all this). My brother, who was a commercial artist, provided me with the original Boar graphic which I dimly recall had something to do with Richard III, but sadly nothing at all to do with Warwick.
There never was a Warwick Boar.
I say I think it was like this because, like all good legends, I can no longer be sure what is history and what later embellishment. My tenure as editor lasted heroically for a single issue, the effort of producing which exhausted me so much that I handed over the reins to Kasper. There’s only so much Cow Gum and Tippex a man can take.
Kasper (who had the distinction of securing two sabbatical years as Union Secretary and later President entirely on the strength of having the only name on the ballot paper that anyone could remember) immediately turned the Boar into a rabid scandal-sheet promoting the interests of... oh somebody or other, I forget who. Professor Phillips-Griffiths said it was the most shameless organ of propaganda since the Völkischer Beobachter, though personally I thought Goebbels had poorer cartoons.
The paper grew to full Boar-hood in the struggle for Union autonomy, rent strikes, occupations, all in the fading shadow of late Sixties unrest. The big issue that year was the Union Building (there wasn’t one) and the President - an eager and fresh faced Pete Ashby, doyen of the soft left - had won his election on a winsome smile and a promise of opening a bistro (Is it there yet? Is the beef really 40p a pound? And is there honey still for tea…?)
Economics usually wins in the end. The abiding legacy of the Ashby presidency was the fact that his shrewd structuring of the Union’s business affairs (the Union Building opened a year later) enabled it twenty-five years later to stump up a huge sum towards further expansion [Union North]. And I suspect no small reason for the survival of the Boar in those early days was the quiet, somewhat pimply character in the corner with the job of business manager which none of us would-be Woodwards and Bernsteins wanted: Nick Landau, founder and owner of Forbidden Planet.
It was a delightful and perfectly silly time. Apart from the name, I find one legacy remains. I continued writing a column - Rust’s Ravings - for a year or more, and occasional satirical poems under the pseudonym G. Thomas Cutkost - an anagram, of course, of ‘Shattock Must Go’.
I think today’s generation may learn something from this remarkable demonstration of the power of student activism. Just a quarter of a century later, Mike Shattock, academic registrar and perceived scourge of student liberties everywhere, is still there. But then again, untamed in the undergrowth somewhere, so is that non-existent Boar...
Godfrey Rust (Phil/Lit 1972-5, Editor Warwick Boar 1973, sabbatical Cultural Affairs Officer 1975-6)
After Warwick he embarked on a brief spell in music journalism, which somehow led to managing the UK pop charts and becoming an acknowledged expert on the management of information in music and copyright. He managed the information services for the copyright societies MCPS and PRS, including building and the official UK National Discography, and is now a consultant data strategist working on issues of international standardisation. G. Thomas Cutkost lives on, more or less: Godfrey has published two successful collection of (non-satirical) poems (Breaking the Chains, 1992 and Welcome to the Real World, 2000, both Wordsout Pulications.
Warwick Boar - Week 9, Spring Term 2004 - Volume 26, Issue 17
© Warwick Boar 2002