I suspect I was always going to be a journalist because of the simple fact that from a very young age I was an avid newspaper reader.
The News Chronicle, long since departed, was the daily read at the family dining table.
By 1960 I was a commuter. I lived in South London but went to school in North London requiring me to catch the train to Charing Cross then the Northern Line tube to Archway.
On my way home if the pocket money allowed I’d buy an evening paper from one of the vendors crowding the station or the Strand outside. “Star, News and Standard” was the cry of those days.
I was a Star boy – a short lived one though because it merged with the Evening News in 1960. Come 1987 and the News was swallowed up by the Evening Standard which continues to this day. In theory at least.
Recently the Evening Standard became a free sheet – which is fine until you try to get your hands on a copy. On my recent visit to London there was not a Standard to be found nor any obvious sign of where you’d get one.
Gone are the vans that used to race round the streets competing to get their wares – the Star, News or Standard –to the vendors first especially if there was a hot story. Gone are the vendors themselves so much a part of central London life for generations. Even the newsagents have given up offering the Standard as since it went free there was no money to be made.
If there was a news story developing – such as the present coalition talks – I’d buy several newspapers a day to see what the latest edition had to say. As much of the newspaper remained the same I’d buy different titles then read each cover to cover. Last week – nothing – you can’t check the internet when you are hoofing around town. And I’m sorry – sitting in the pub or Starbucks checking the news on your Blackberry is no substitute for having inky paper in your hands.
Ironically I do have one source for the Standard close at hand. The Gibraltar daily Panorama takes the majority of its non-local news from that paper. So on the Rock I can “read all about it” – but in London itself – forget it!