My Biggest Mistake: Ray Josephs

MY BIGGEST mistake was leaving London for a girl back home in the States. It was in the 1930s, and as a result I missed the journalist's dream of reporting some of the great events affecting Britain, Europe and the world in the decade that followed. And I didn't get the girl.

I had gone to London in the hope of remaining for an unspecified period. Instead, I spent most of the decade covering the big, but less significant, stories in the US. Finally, at the end of 1939, I got my chance to go abroad for my then hometown newspaper, the Philadelphia Bulletin. There were limits to my brief. Go for five weeks. Rather than stories of international significance, find ex-Philadelphians who have gone to the Amazon or the Andes, and report on them.

So, single and unattached, I cruised down the Pacific (it was before commercial aviation in that region) and sought out a surprising number of hometowners in ancient cities and distant plains. Then came Buenos Aires. No thatched cottages there. Instead, to my amazement, a metropolis with broad boulevards and imposing architecture - truly a Paris in Latin America. There was a British community. Its members were third and fourth generation; they owned or ran banks, railways, utilities and the meat packing plants that were the source of much of the beef so popular in Britain. There was also a great English-language paper, the Buenos Aires Herald.

Two things happened. First, I was invited to dinner at the home of the Herald's publisher. He asked what I thought of the newspaper. I replied: 'Serious, but dull. No personalities. No gossip. No colour. No life.' He responded: 'If you're so smart, why don't you stay in Buenos Aires and see what you can contribute.' Two weeks later, my daily column, 'Personal But Not Private,' began running on Page 3, and to my great relief it was a hit.

At about the same time, I was introduced by a Dutch banker friend to a senorita. Ten months later, after a courtship that was properly chaperoned, she became my bride - and I reported the event in my column. We are still married after 53 years and live in New York.

It was not only love that worked out. While in the city, I helped set up the first Latin American news bureau for Time magazine, sent stories to the Chicago Sun-Times and other dailies, and the show business weekly Variety. Through the entertainment world, I got an early lead on Evita Duarte, who later married military strongman Juan Peron, and my reporting on life in their dictatorship became my first bestseller, Argentina Diary, and relaunched the foreign correspondent's career I had aborted years before in London.

From there, it was on to re-emerging Japan, where I set up what in its heyday was the largest independent network of public relations consultancies in the world. Using what I had learned in all those years - about how the busiest and most successful people accomplish far more than others in less time - I wrote my book on personal time management, How to Gain an Extra Hour Every Day, which has just been published in an original British version.

Still going strong in my eighties, I continue to capitalise on the mistake made all those years ago.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

£350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction