Posted: July 15th, 2005
Patrick Mennem, doyen of motoring correspondents. Born April 1927; married journalist Anne Ince, one son, died July 16, 2005.
Patrick Mennem entered Fleet Street’s own Hall Of Fame in 1967. After writing for months, as motoring correspondent of the Daily Mirror, warning readers about the impending threat of the breathalyser he was arrested within 48 hours of its introduction, becoming the first person in that job to be banned from driving.
Patrick easily overcame the impediment by testing cars on private tracks and by getting other people to do the driving when on overseas press launches.
Most people, including colleagues, believed that his florid expression – he always looked as if his face was about to explode – was caused by heavy drinking of claret, or otherwise that he was furiously angry about something. To those who enquired about it he explained that he suffered from a rare skin condition. In fact, in spite of his reputation as a big drinker, which was more than considerably enhanced by his driving ban, he drank only moderately. And he was a popular, polite and composed journalist.
He wrote a number of books, aimed at the Mirror readership, concerned with buying and maintaining second hand cars. After his retirement he wrote the text for the Illustrated History Of Jaguar.
When he retired in 1986 he had been the Mirror’s motoring man for 32 years. He had previously held similar positions on the Coventry Evening Telegraph and the Surrey Comet.
Although he suffered a fall at home in Great Missenden, Bucks, the day after his 78th birthday in April, it was only last Thursday that he needed to go to hospital. He died in the early hours of Saturday morning.
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