My first newspaper article was a paragraph about a small fire in a barn that appeared in the Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph in 1971. I was told to praise the efficiency of the fire brigade, so they would continue to hand out information. Lesson 1: Keep your sources onside.

In the years since then, I have had a very satisfying and unusually varied career in British journalism, mainly for The Guardian and now the Financial Times. Fortunately most of it took place in a century when the newspaper business was more fun and less poverty-stricken than it is now.

I have reported from all seven continents (I got to the South Pole, not very heroically, in 2012) and, I make it, 46 countries.

I have covered many of the great events of our time including the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War, the death of Princess Diana, 9/11 and eight general elections.

Plus five summer Olympics, three football World Cups and sixteen (I think) Ashes series: about 70 sports in all, including the 1980 European Tiddlywinks Championship. The Guardian telephonist, who was supposed to be typing out my copy, assumed this was a hoax call and put the phone down.

Most of my latest FT pieces can be found on the FT website.