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. 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 currently write occasional articles, mainly on sport, for The Guardian; also, mainly not on sport, for the Financial Times and sometimes the New Statesman and other magazines.
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 ten general elections.
Plus five summer Olympics, three football World Cups and sixteen (I think) Ashes series: more than 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, though you might be forced to pay to read them. Recent Guardian articles can be found gratis. As can my contributions to the New Statesman.
Interesting that my pro-capitalist employer charges online readers and the leftie ones don’t. Guess which one is the money-maker.