Mail Online

50 years on... but some things don’t change

LAST week marked 50 years since I first began the trade of scribbling for a living.

In September 1973, I reported my first golden wedding, began my first shorthand classes with the demanding Mrs Whittaker, wrote up the results of my first flower show and covered my first trial in the magistrates’ court, all under the stern eye of more experienced persons, for I was an actual indentured apprentice. It was the same country yet wholly different, the people more individual and varied, the smells stronger (apart from that of marijuana, which was still pretty much illegal), and the pubs were closed most of the time.

There were masses of manual jobs. The police were visible, unpolitical and opposed to crime.

My newspaper was produced by a magical Victorian process of melted metal and great thundering rotary presses in a cavern under the newsroom, which we would all go and watch, if not busy, when they began to turn for the first edition each midday.

Meanwhile inflation was at 9 per cent and the Americans were overthrowing governments they did not like in violent putsches, which seems familiar.

And ordinary express trains had dining cars open on Sundays. Which seems like a dream.

China In The Dock




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