Harpenden writers top letters to The Times

TWO Harpenden men have the write stuff when it comes to consistently having letters to the editor published in The Times – but how does their correspondence compare with their equally eager pen-pushing counterparts in Tunbridge Wells?

The men of letters, Steve Gledhill of Cravells Road and Robert Hill of East Common, have each had nine epistles published in the national daily.

In its Saturday, July 21, issue The Times pondered a cheeky question from reader Victor Ross from North London in its feedback section.

He asked the paper to confirm his suspicion that Harpenden correspondents have had more letters published per head of population than those in any other town in the UK, mocking, “Eat your heart out Tunbridge Wells”.

In response the paper said an unscientific survey showed that since 2003 Tunbridge Wells had scored 93 letters in total against 52 from Harpenden.

But in the last year and a half Harpenden had “swept ahead and is currently leading by two letters”.

The Times challenged its Tunbridge Wells correspondents: “Come on, Disgusted, you’re slacking out there.”

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Steve and Robert, both also regular contributors to the Herts Advertiser, admitted to having a laugh over the comments, speculating that they must be “frustrated journalists”.

Steve, 60, a marketing consultant, added: “I have always enjoyed writing.

“I think of things and need to get it off my chest, but with a humorous intent. I think you have to be slightly mad.”

His letters to the national newspaper have focused on everything from deafening pubs to squashed hedgehogs.

Steve said: “I think it’s fair to say Harpenden attracts a number of literate intellectual people. It doesn’t surprise me that there have been so many letters.”

Robert, 61, said Harpenden locals were “more intellectual” than residents of Tunbridge Wells, and he and Steve would enjoy trying to pip their letter-writing opponents.

He explained that he writes pithy, mostly five-line epistles, which he knows from experience will usually be published on the bottom right side of the letters page of The Times.

Commenting on out-writing fellow correspondents in Kent, Robert added: “It’s an indication that retired colonels in Tunbridge Wells have too much time on their hands, but in Harpenden we are more rounded.”