Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Gorrod no ordinary Joe

Joe Gorrod died following a brave battle against cancer
Joe Gorrod died following a brave battle against cancer

The great Joe Gorrod died this week. The Daily Mirror's man in Belfast for over 40 years never lost his often impenetrable Geordie accent. But in the end he became a true son of this place.

He was one of the tabloid titans not just of local but national journalism, a brilliant, brilliant writer who could convey colour and pathos, humour and humanity in the shortest sentence. He saw beyond the trite and the obvious.

He was a big, tough man but his empathy was always with the hurt and the hard done by. He told his stories with sharp words and a gentle heart.

He was part of a now sadly diminishing legion of national newspaper journalists who recorded the history of our Troubles from the front line, as it happened.

In person he was witty and acerbic but always with that wee half-smile upon his face. Joe didn't do gush. He did do banter. He could banter for Ireland.

As a storyteller he was incomparable, even if occasionally the punch line had to be repeated when he dipped into hardcore Geordie.

He would quite often give me a critique (usually unasked for) of something or other I'd written. It would be fair to say this wasn't always glowing.

He gave me my favourite ever compliment though. A piece I'd written, he once told me, was "camel s***.

"But beautifully cooked."

What made that such a compliment is that it came from the great Joe Gorrod. A brilliant writer. A lovely big man. May he rest in peace.

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