Sun, 29 March, 2020


We’re all in this together – the sequel

WE ASKED the Mirror Group diaspora for some help and advice to cheer us all up during the CV-19 lockdown. Thanks guys. Here are some funnies, and some more serious – additions to follow.

Let’s start with this gem from STEVE ATKINSON: Why did the toilet roll fall down the stairs? To get to the bottom.

Two classic and hilarious videos suggested by FRANK THORNE. Watch the late, great Victoria Wood’s spoof on the step class: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObOkhXGu7oY
And another take on keep fit for oldies by retired Gaelic Amateur Athletics star Kevin Cummins (contains swear words): https://www.corkbeo.ie/news/local-news/watch-hilarious-video-retired-gaa-17968430

From DOUGLAS BENCE: This link isn’t fun exactly, but will give those that need it something to do. Slag off religion, politicians and national selfishness. Should stimulate debate!
https://www.cam.ac.uk/stories/wintoncovid1?ucam-ref=read-this-next

Advice from Polly McLeod: I have one easy suggestion, both practical and hopefully entertaining, which I’m going to put into practice tomorrow evening: meeting a friend for a virtual drink. It can be on FaceTime, WhatsApp, Messenger… Plan the date and time rather than simply picking up the blower; on the coffee table next to your v comfy sofa have a bottle of great wine, some olives/nibbles/wo’evva, and put your phone on some cushions on another table/chair to keep it upright so it doesn’t interfere with your pouring/drinking/eating etc. It’s kind of a lock-in during lockdown, although not as most Mirror folk know it.

A serious blog from ALASTAIR CAMPBELL:
https://alastaircampbell.org/2020/03/twenty-tips-for-guarding-against-depression-and-anxiety-in-the-era-of-self-isolation/

And his 20 reasons to look on the bright side (you can read why on Alastair’s blog): Cleaner Air. More Kindness. More Volunteering. More Respect For So-Called Unskilled Workers. More Appreciation For NHS Staff. More Solidarity With Other Nations. More Sharing Of Funny Videos. Events Being Cancelled. More Music. More Time For Books. No Issues With Bbc Transport. Strange New Things Happen. New Enterprises Spring Up. The Dog Is So Happy. The Birdsong Is Louder. Everyone Is Talking About (And Noticing) Trees. Burnley Are Basically League Champions. Old Football Is Sometimes Better Than New. The Olympics Postponement Is An Opportunity For Some. I Have Found A New Blog Format.

From an inertia-ridden MAGGIE HALL: My immediate response is: how pathetic I am – I can, despite being basically house-bound, still find an excuse not to do all those things I never got round to doing – like going through those boxes of photos, cleaning out a cupboard, sorting through never worn clothes – because “I don’t have time”. Great idea you’ve got here. You’ll get some fun responses – and some that will put me to shame.

MIKE MALONEY: I’ve just come back from the doctor’s. I told him I have a big problem – I keep thinking I’m Tom Jones. He said: “It’s not unusual.”

We’re all in this together

Tips and advice on how to survive self-isolation.

FOR former Mirror City man and well-known polymath TONY PATEY, it’s all about edjacation, edjacation, edjaction …

Self-isolation? Think of a young Isaac Newton who did his best work in isolation back at home in Lincolnshire when Cambridge University went into lockdown during the 1665/6 plague.

Learn a new language, do a free online course, go virtual at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (go on, enjoy yourself…) There are loads of online resources out there, masses of them free (including Open University), from basic introductions to very heavy-duty study.

Found FutureLearn? It kept me sane when I had leg trouble a few years ago and was awake most of every night … Try it out. Free courses for everyone.

If there’s an old book you’ve found difficult to get, try Internet Archive; you can actually download or “borrow” for a fortnight. (Sad alert: you can even get the multi-volume Cambridge Ancient History, with plates…)

Me? I’m going back to Latin (and Greek), but starting again from absolute scratch. And, after 57 years, A-level Technical Drawing (managed recently to get an old textbook; my school wasn’t geared up for it. Still got my old drawing board and equipment I used for O-level; antiques like me.)

Keep well and safe, Tony (and Ann)

Ex-Mirror writer (and AMP chairman) DEBORAH is running The Seedling Stakes: What to do? (other than listen to Radio 4 and go utterly mad at their preachy “you must think and behave like we do” view of life).

Three of us have bought identical boxes of wildflower seeds at Poundland and are now having a competition to see who grows the best wildflower patch this summer. Neighbours beware: one gardener’s wild flower is another gardener’s weed. Photos will be taken and compared. I have already had a cry for help from London: “My seedlings haven’t come up yet.” To which I replied: “Neither have mine – but then the unopened seed box is still on the kitchen table. Too cold here!”

Your editor Caro: For the immediate future I shall mostly be reading my new book “RHS: How To Garden When You’re New To Gardening: The Basics For Absolute Beginners”; learning how to get the best out of a static bike; and falling in love again with jigsaws. I’m so glad I didn’t give those two old but virgin puzzles to the charity shop, even if one of them is reversible, with pictures of spaniels. Bogof, you might say.

Stephanie Kerstein: My weekly Yoga class has been closed, but I found a ten-minute workout on YouTube by the British Heart Foundation which is good and not too taxing, except for the press-ups at the end which I usually skip!

There are lots of videos and messages on the web. I read in The Sunday Times that the Green Goddess is making a comeback at 80. She is on Breakfast on BBC-1 from her house in Weybridge on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at about 6.55 a.m and 8.55 a.m. She looks amazing.

There are also tips on staying healthy from NHS adviser Sir Muir Gray. The one for stamina is a sit-to-stand exercise: get up from a chair without using your arms, repeat once for each decade of your age. Hold a 1kg. bag in each hand if you can.

The good weather is a help so I can spend time on the patio and in the garden, and I still take my dog for a walk twice a day. He is about 10 now but still loves to run in the still very muddy local nature reserve. There aren’t many people about, but dog owners stand on opposite sides of the field and let the dogs run to their hearts’ content. We just give a wave of hello and goodbye.
Hope you are all keeping well and safe.

Remembering Bill Kennedy

Thanks to FRANK THORNE for this: Friends of the late Mirror photographer BILL KENNEDY might like to know that Bill’s ashes will be interred at the Marylebone Crematorium at 11 am on Friday, April 3, [2020].

Bill’s son, Gerard, has said old friends and colleagues are welcome to join him and other members of Bill’s family to say a final farewell.

Arise Sir Jimmy?

If you like the football of old, or want to know how it feels to file a world exclusive under pressure and against the clock, this account from one-man word factory FRANK THORNE is for you.

JIMMY GREAVES – former Chelsea, Spurs and England great – celebrated his 80th birthday this week, marked by a TV documentary on the BT Sports network. Support is growing for Jimmy to receive an honour for his services to football. Today’s players as well as heroes from football’s past have joined the campaign, and newspapers, blogs and websites are filled with anecdotes and tributes. Frank Thorne supports the campaign, and recalls “It’s a funny old game”…

It was a normal Friday afternoon in the busy Sunday People newsroom some 42 years ago, but news editor David Farr was still looking for a Page One splash. Sports editor, the late, great Neville Holtham, and his able chief sports reporter Brian Madley, were about to come to the rescue.

I admired the People sports department for their news sense and the fact that they were always willing to share their sports related information with the news team – even when it was potentially detrimental to their own patch. I was called over by Farr and told sport had a tip that former Spurs and England international football star Jimmy Greaves had checked himself into the alcohol unit of Severalls Hospital, Colchester, but had checked himself out again in the early hours of the morning.

It was the first anyone had heard that England’s greatest goalscorer, who had helped the team win the 1966 World Cup – but missed out on a medal and the final due to injury – had a drink problem.

It was a cold, wet winter’s day in late January 1978 when myself and photographer Brendan Monks arrived at the Greaves’s large Tudor-style home in Hornchurch, Essex. It was already dark when we knocked on the front door after 6pm to be greeted by Jimmy’s wife, Irene. When I asked to see Jimmy and explained why we were there, a worried looking Irene, a sweet blonde lady, invited us in and showed us into the lounge.

We got off on the wrong foot with her daughter, however, who, with a face like thunder, pointed to the white fitted carpet and told me: “You’ve walked mud into the carpet.” Not a great start when I was trying to be as nice and polite as I could to stay in the good books of Mrs Greaves, who did not know me from a hole in the ground. Fortunately, the ice was broken by Brendan, who piped up: “We both have”, apologising, and saying it was wet outside.

Irene told us Jimmy was not at home, but to my surprise she invited us to sit down. And then she opened up. Over a cup of tea, she unburdened herself after I told her the newspaper knew about Jimmy’s alcohol problem. We had already confirmed the hospital report, the truth about Jimmy’s problem was out.

Irene opened her heart, she seemed relieved, explaining how for years as a qualified nurse she had tried everything to help Jimmy over his terrible addiction to alcohol. She said Jimmy would conceal bottles of booze all over the house – even in their family rubbish bins. She had taken him to the best professors in the business to try to wean him off the booze. Everything had failed. An emotional Irene was clearly at the end of her tether. Like the loved ones of many an alcoholic or gambling addict, she knew that unless Jimmy wanted to help himself, nobody else could help him kick the addiction.

Finally, Irene told me that Jimmy had been admitted to another alcoholic unit at Warley Hospital near Brentwood, not far away, where he was that night. After about an hour, Irene asked us to leave but said if we could return in the morning – Saturday – she promised to get Jimmy home and we could talk to him in person. Our muddy marks on the light coloured carpet had been cleaned off by the time we left on friendly terms. No stain on our character.

I left the house knowing I had a Page One exclusive, whether Jimmy turned up to speak to us the next morning or not. We could go big simply with what Irene had told us, exclusively. Brendan, a total professional and top partner, bravely did not push it and had not taken any pictures. It was all to play for the next day…

I did have some concerns, however, having once visited an alcoholic journalist friend in hospital, that Jimmy might have some mental issues. So back at the office in Orbit House I went in to see Sunday People editor Geoff Pinnington and told him of my reservations about the ethics of putting a person like Jimmy Greaves under pressure. From what his wife had told me he clearly had complex issues. Pinnington was a wise old bird and told me there was absolutely no reason why I should not go back and see what Jimmy had to say, now that his problem was a matter of public record. Geoff was confident I would approach the delicate subject professionally and with compassion and understanding.

Brendan and I arrived back at the Greaves family home by 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, January 28, 1978 on tenterhooks, our adrenaline running high. A nervous Irene had kept her word and showed the pair of us into the living room. Standing there was the great Jimmy Greaves. It was not a warm greeting. “Right, you bastard, what do you want to do about it?”, he said, and squared up to me in a boxing pose.

When I was a football-mad schoolboy in Manchester standing on the Stretford End terraces at Old Trafford, the big game was always Tottenham Hotspur and, of course, Jimmy Greaves was up there with Bobby Charlton, Dennis Law and George Best – the Holy Trinity. And here was I, feeling like that little schoolboy again, but squaring up to one of my heroes. I don’t know where it came from as it was not the welcome I had expected. But I bit the bullet and told Jimmy forcefully: “Look, Jimmy, we can have a fight if you like and I will go. But, mate, I’ve already written the story – and you’re on Page One.” I added: “And the News of the World are outside…”

About half an hour after Brendan and I arrived that Saturday morning, another car pulled up outside the Greaves home. It was Peter Moore of the News of the World, whom I knew, and a photographer. Irene played her part and did not open the door to them. In a way, that helped Jimmy make his decision to do an exclusive deal with us.

Jimmy, who looked emaciated and worn out, slumped into an armchair and gasped: “How much are you going to pay me?” My heart was going ten to the dozen, I felt like I had electricity in my veins. Brendan didn’t flinch. I don’t know what was going through his mind at the time, but he was a huge Spurs fan from childhood – and still is – so I guess he felt the same as me. But he remained cool, calm and collected.

The moment Greavsie collapsed into that armchair, the job took over. I told Jimmy I needed a quick synopsis of his story to put over to the office so the editor could judge the buy-up and we could negotiate a price for his exclusive. So we quickly ran through Jimmy’s battle with the booze, his highs and lows. Great quotes tumbled out, I couldn’t write them down quickly enough: “I used to go on the pitch at West Ham pissed…” and: “After I stopped playing, I was looking for the roar of the crowd in the bottom of a vodka bottle…”

Jimmy told me the police often stopped him while he was driving his car – but when they saw who it was, they would let him go. Other times, when winter closed in, he would wake up in his car parked on Warley Common at 4 o’clock, and it would be dark. But Jimmy, waking from a drunken stupor, would not know whether it was 4 p.m. or 4 a.m.

This all took place long before the days of new technology. By the time a formal legal contract had been drawn up and faxed direct to the Greaves home, signed and sealed and witnessed by me on behalf of the newspaper, we were into early Saturday afternoon.

I needed to interview Jimmy in minute detail about his football career, his drinking and the descent into chronic alcoholism which was threatening his life; plus somehow write a splash and spread as the prelude to a three-part series, as agreed on the contract, to include exclusive pictures and any collects we needed – i.e. family, personal and career photos.

In desperation and up against the clock, I borrowed Jimmy’s daughter’s portable Olympus typewriter. Once I had bashed out a Page One intro, I more or less went into Jimmy telling his story, and as his quotes and memories came out like gold bars, I crashed them out as quickly as I could. If it was a bit rough around the edges, I knew the excellent subs at the Sunday People would knock it into shape. The important thing was to get my copy over as soon as possible and give them something to work on. So I would break off to file to our brilliant copytakers – all of whom could spell way better than me. And at a time like that, against deadline on such an exciting exclusive,  chief copytaker Norman Gray became just as involved as the journalists and could not do enough to help.

Meanwhile, Brendan held his camera steady. He took one or two warm-up shots of Jimmy talking but basically he waited and waited, then click! Jimmy struck a pose and poked finger into his cheek, and the picture seemed to emphasise just how sick he was. It was a truly shocking Page One picture, reproduced above, which has stood the test of time. It’s over 40 years ago now, but to me it seems like yesterday, and BT Sport’s TV documentary brought it all back.

Despite my fears and panic about organising the synopsis so the boss would agree terms, sorting out and signing the contract, doing the exclusive interview like I was speed dating, typing out the story and then dictating it over the phone, I made the deadline by 5pm that Saturday. Wow – that was real Sunday journalism. Incredibly, it all worked out.

Following shock reactions to the story, the Sunday People had its biggest mailbag in many years, with football fans and members of the public alike offering Jimmy all kinds of support. Comedian Jimmy Tarbuck offered Jimmy and Irene the free use of his villa in Spain. Alcoholism experts rallied round and offered Jimmy free counselling and treatment. Jimmy did not realise how much he was loved.

But basically – in an echo of Irene Greaves’s words – Jimmy had been named and shamed. He had reached rock bottom, and now the world knew it. He could not sink any lower, so the only way was up.

The good news is that he never touched another drop. I like to think myself and Brendan had something to do with that. From that Saturday afternoon, Jimmy began his battle against the booze and eventually turned his life around. Once he had completed his three-part exclusive deal with the Sunday People, he landed his own newspaper column. And then came the wonderful Saint and Greavsie football pundit show, which was later parodied on TV’s Spitting Image. Jimmy had turned from a sad, washed-up alcoholic to a well-paid, highly successful, household name.

To round things off with Jimmy, I was invited to Thames TV HQ on the South Bank when they lunched the Saint and Greavsie book “Funny Old Game”, entitled after Jimmy’s catchphrase on the show. Jimmy kindly acknowleged my part in his recovery with the signed dedication, pictured below: “To the man who made the great discovery. Best wishes Frank. Jimmy Greaves.”

Happy 80th birthday Jimmy. Here’s hoping the authorities recognise you with an OBE, MBE, or even – come on Boris – “Arise, Sir Jimmy”.

Fleet Street follies

By FRANK THORNE

RECOLLECTIONS of what might have been overflowed when a band of retired Fleet Street names reunited at the historic Boot and Flogger in London’s Southwark to celebrate the long lunch, and take a walk down Memory Lane fuelled by five-star food and fine wine.

Lunch guests included former Mirror showbiz reporters David Hancock and Pauline McLeod; retired Mirror and People photographer Brendan Monks; ex-Mirror reporter and former Sun executive Bill Akass; former Sunday People reporter Mydrim Jones; retired News of the World staffer and New York freelancer Annette Witheridge and her Aussie syndication friend Lesley Jackson; ex-Sunday Mirror reporter Sandra White, and my special guest, freelance journalist, writer and author Barrie Tracey, who travelled from Stratford-upon-Avon to be there on the day.

Many old Fleet Street hands will remember Barrie, and his wonderful late wife, Pat. They worked half the year from Marbella in southern Spain in the days when James Hunt was Formula One World Champion; Barrie’s friend Ronnie Knight – actress Barbara Windsor’s ex – was Scotland Yard’s Most Wanted on the Costa del Crime; and a teenage Mandy Smith was [allegedly] having under-age sex with Rolling Stones’ Bill Wyman. All big stories which Barrie and Pat covered as world exclusives.

For the record, our lunch gig began about 1 o’clock and finally wrapped up at 8pm, so the last men and women standing could catch their trains home. As MC and organiser, I can tell you this epic lunch was full of great stories – some well known and some virgin. As thoughts turned to the good old, bad old days, our lunchers recounted various tales of what might have been – what woulda, coulda, shoulda been…

Former Sunday Mirror scribe Sandra White recalled a fashion shoot when she was on the Daily Star many years ago, when a very awkward up-and-coming celebrity went through racks of clothing in the studio, throwing things on the floor, refusing to wear them and exclaiming: “This is sh*t, sh*t, sh*t” about each outfit.

Finally, photographer Mark Bourdillon was forced simply to photograph this showbiz prima donna in her own clothes. Said Sandra: “When we took Mark’s photographs to the fashion editor, she said of the subject: ‘She’s a dog’ and threw the pix straight in the bin. It was Madonna!” Gales of laughter round our lunch table.

Following Sandra’s revelation about Madonna being binned, the conversation turned to other exclusives that woulda coulda shoulda been…

David Hancock told how he met with an up-and-coming young boy band and got on like a house on fire. The band begged him to get them publicity in the Daily Mirror. Said David: “They were totally unknown at the time and agreed that if I got them in the Mirror, when they made it, they would give all their exclusives only to the Mirror.

“When I took the piece to Roger Collier, the then Mirror features editor, he said: ‘Never heard of them – I don’t think so…'” The band was Take That. The rest, as they say, is history. David’s last word on the subject: “Take That would never give the Mirror an interview after that.” Collier’s decision at that time may have seemed criminal to the Mirror’s showbiz man.

Brendan Monks regaled us with his own heartbreaker. He and Sunday People showbiz reporter Tony Purnell travelled to snowy Switzerland to do a feature on the world famous Jackson Five. The stand-out during the interview and pictures was Brendan’s capture of a young Michael Jackson sitting in the arms of a giant snowman. Jacko had a parallel solo career by then, but was not that popular in the UK outside of the Five. This was before he discovered cosmetic surgery, turned a deathly shade of pale and became Wacko Jacko.

An excited team of Monks and Purnell went to Sunday People assistant editor Alan Hobday, a hard-to-please, old-fashioned Northerner. When they explained that Michael Jackson was a brilliant young performer and singer who would be “absolutely huge” worldwide with his upcoming solo albums, an underwhelmed Hobday, who’d never heard of Jacko, retorted: “Says you!” – and promptly binned the feature, and the pic. That’s showbiz, as they say.

Speaking of the Sunday People, I remember David Montgomery, at one time the paper’s number 3, saying of some ideas put up at conference by news editor David Farr: “Any more stories like that and I’ll have to get a bigger dustbin!”

At our lunch as the afternoon wore on and the wine flowed, the talk turned to Prince Andrew’s questionable friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Annette Witheridge and Sandra White both claimed inside knowledge and promised there is much more scandal to come.

The good old bad old days were picked over until we called Last Orders. One of the best Fleet Street long lunches in quite some time.

Frank adds: My own near miss was soon after I joined the Daily Express, aged 24, and I was manning the news desk solo on the “dog watch” overnight. Two Met police detectives rang in from a phone box looking for an exclusive payment. They told me they were at a murder scene in Belgravia and that Lord Lucan was wanted for killing the family nanny. They added that Lucan had called his mother, the Dowager Lady Lucan, while police were with her but he had declined to speak to them, saying he would appear at the local police station the next day with his solicitor. Lucan was never seen again.

The late-night sub editor, Ray, climbed over the library shutter to get out Debrett’s Peerage [the reference guide to the United Kingdom’s titled families]. When we looked up the Earl of Lucan, we learned that one of his great, great ancestors had ordered the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade. We had ourselves a genuine Fleet Street scoop.

However, fate turned out to be cruel – the boss of the print floor told Ray as he submitted my “Stop Press” at 2a.m: “Never heard of him, mate – I’m not stopping the presses for that.”

So my 15 minutes of fame had to wait for another day… Life in the rough and tumble of Fleet Street could be cruel back in the day.

We wish you merriment and good health

Merry Christmas and a

happy and healthy 2020

to all our members

and their families

Tom Brown’s short retirement

This year’s Scots’ annual meeting was followed by a celebration lunch for Tom Brown (see below).

Tom is stepping back from day-to-day involvement in AMP so as to spend more time looking after his wife Marie, so he won’t be attending meetings. BUT as life vice-president he will remain very much involved in committee matters via email and phone. Sighs of relief all round.

It’s not often in life that you have the pleasure and privilege of working with a man of the calibre of Tom Brown, so your AMP committee, on both sides of the border, was aghast when he announced he would have to stand down as deputy chairman. So we are genuinely relieved, and very pleased, that Tom’s experience and wisdom – and his contacts book – will not be lost to AMP.

The annual meeting itself was attended by about 30 members, and since independent trustee chairman Quentin Woodley had been unavoidably detained at Stansted airport, his speech was delivered by David Astley, MGNPS secretary/trustee director and group pensions manager.

Trustees Andrew Watson and Chris Rushton both spoke at the meeting, and the possiblity and desirability of appointing a woman trustee was raised.

Tributes to Tom came from AMP chairman Deborah Thomas, and from ex-Daily Record showbusiness editor, John Millar. The chairman also delivered further tributes to Mirror great and former AMP committee man Brian Bass, who died in August, and a minute’s silence was observed.

And then came the unanimous vote to elevate Tom to life vice-president.

Tom’s lunch at La Lanterna, a friendly Italian dive in the middle of Glasgow, was attended by AMP chairman Deborah Thomas, secretary Gerald Mowbray, treasurer Ray Evans, Scots committee members Malcom Speed, George Easton, David Tattersall, Rob Cunningham (who took the pictures) and Russell Stewart, plus trustee Chris Rushton and Tom’s mate John Millar. And Tom, of course! (Committee member Isabel Mulligan couldn’t attend as she has a broken shoulder.)

Gifts to Tom from committee collections included a £100 Amazon voucher (as he is a regular purchaser of books/cds/dvds), a rather special 15-year-old malt whisky, a fun hip flask with the inscription: “Thomas, the man, the myth, the legend”, and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne for Tom’s wife Marie.

Aftwerwards, Tom said: “I was deeply touched by the tributes and presentations, particularly the speeches by my old friend and colleague, former Daily Record showbusiness editor John Millar.

“I had not realised how long my connection with the Association of Mirror Pensioners has been (especially since I was not elected but press-ganged into service on behalf of my Scottish workmates!) and how much has been done over the years.

“There may be those who regard the AMP as having only nuisance value, but it should be recognised that those of us who had our pensions stolen by the arch-crook Robert Maxwell will never take those pensions for granted, particularly as incomes dwindle the longer we live – and that applies especially to widows.

“The pensions world, not only occupational but State, is now in turmoil and it is vital there should be an organisation that is vigilant on our behalf. That is why I felt it important we should be part of an umbrella organisation such as the Occupational Pensioners’ Alliance, which includes some of the biggest pension schemes in Britain.

“While remaining on guard, the nature of the AMP has changed. When I first joined the committee we were consulting legal advisers more often on behalf of individual members who felt they were receiving a raw deal. Today’s task is more about liaison, consultation and communication with the membership – and the trustee and company.

“These days, perhaps the most important aspects of the AMP are the highly professional (what else could it be?) newsletter and the website informing the membership about pension developments and keeping old colleagues in contact. My hope for the AMP’s future is that it will continue doing just that, perhaps with more female participation – particularly of widows who do not seem to have a voice on the pensions that are so vital to them.

“For myself, I will always retain a keen interest in the AMP and will help in any way I can, especially in the use of political contacts, so that the pensioners’ voice continues to be heard where it matters.”

50 years in the business – Paul Henderson

Report and picture from FRANK THORNE

THE great and the good – and some not so good – of Fleet Street turned out en masse on October 23 [2019] to help celebrate a remarkable 50 years in the business of Mirror associate editor PAUL HENDERSON. However, pint in hand, a smiling Henderson insisted: “I have to keep telling people that I’m NOT retiring, I just wanted to mark the occasion.”

“Hendo” as he is affectionately known by friends and colleagues, refused to give his age and joked: “I was like a boy chimney sweep – I started very young. I was about twelve…”

STILL dedicated to the job, Paul was nearly an hour late for his own party because he was editing the Mirror that day, when the big news story was the tragic discovery of the bodies of 39 migrants in a refrigerated container truck on an Essex industrial park. Hendo was delayed arguing with the office lawyer about the legalities of identifying in Irish truck driver who had been arrested at the scene.

I call Hendo an “everywhere man” because he has been practically everywhere in his career, including evening, daily and Sunday newspapers. A real all-rounder and consummate professional.

Paul joined the Mirror team in September 2011. His guest list for his big night at the Oyster Shed near Cannon Street read like a Who’s Who of old and new Fleet Street journalists and photographers.

Those who happily raised a glass to Hendo included plenty of Mirror names including Mark Ellis, Kent Gavin, and myself, along with many current Mirror staff. Another notable guest was Brian Steel, former Daily Star news editor who later joined the Daily Express, where I worked alongside him back in the mid-70s. Brian, who now spends his retirement sailing his yacht round the world, gave Paul his first job in the Street soon after the Star was first published.

After a period at the Evening Standard, Paul moved on to become chief investigative reporter and later executive news editor of the Daily Mail from 1989 to 1996. He moved on to the Mail on Sunday, where he had a stint as news editor and when he suffered repetitive strain injury from signing his own expenses, Hendo became investigations editor. He needed the rest!

After eight years, the time came for another change of direction after his long association with the Mail group, and he moved to the USA to become American correspondent for the Mail and MoS in 2005. Some years later he worked for the Stateside News Inc. agency before finally moving back to London to become a Mirror executive.

It was standing room only in the top bar of the Oyster Shed. Among the guests I chatted to were former Sunday Mirror writer Susie Boniface, former Sunday Mirror associate editor Nick Buckley, Tim Miles and his wife ex-News of the World editor Wendy Henry, Daily Mail Royal reporter Richard Kaye, David Ofield, retired Evening Standard picture editor, and long-time friend of Hendo, veteran Daily Mail photographer Clive Limpkin, Sun crime reporter Mike Sullivan, former Daily Star reporter and ex-Sunday Telegraph news editor Chris Boffey, who was also on the Mirror news desk for a period.

Others present included ex-Express features editor turned radio personality Mike Graham, present Mirror staff Tom Carlin, Dominic Herbert, Dean Rousewell and Chris Hughes. Mirror chief reporter Andy Lines was absent because he was on his way for a combined work and holiday trip to Japan to watch England at the Rugby World Cup finals.

Exclusive to members – Mirror Pensioner

GET READY FOLKS – your awesome 16-page Mirror Pensioner is on its way and should drop through your letterbox over the next week.

Inside your magazine of the year: plenty of pension news and data; full coverage of AMP activity and finances; Bill Berentemfel’s first OPA report; Trustee chairman’s thoughts; website update; far too many heartbreaking obituaries…

On the features front, there’s a marvellous spread all about Bill Rowntree and his mate, round-the-world yachtsman Robin Knox-Johnston. We’ve got a retrospective on the First Male Nude in Fleet Street, plus High Jinks in Jarrow, each with a bespoke Charles Griffin illustration. How lucky are we?

And you can read all about AMP life president David Thompson and his new job. Thought he’d retired? Have another think!

And there’s much, much more, so… enjoy!

Remember, Mirror Pensioner is exclusive to AMP members only. If you are a member and your Mirror Pensioner doesn’t arrive, please let us know via the website Contact Us form, or by sending us a letter. If you’re not a member and are kicking yourself for missing out on Mirror Pensioner (there are two issues a year) you can join AMP via this website – and if you’re quick about it, we’ll send you a copy of this autumn’s super 16-pager.

And if you have a story to tell, or a suggestion for additional help or information in Mirror Pensioner, let us know.

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