My Mentor: Jane Moore on David Montgomery
'I am very thick-skinned and able to turn my hand to anything - thanks to Monty'
Monday 22 November 2004
David Montgomery was my editor at Today newspaper and my mentor - though not in a warm, cuddly way. I learned from him everything that makes me the journalist I am today: very thick-skinned and able to turn my hand to anything. He was a bastard, but he was a fair bastard.
I'd been working at The Sun on Bizarre as the first woman editor, but burned out, aged 23. I couldn't handle the late nights and the harsh reality under Kelvin MacKenzie; he used to sack me on a daily basis. I was too young and took it too seriously.
I left The Sun at 26 and pitched up at Today to work shifts. David sent me off to Wimbledon: great, a couple of weeks sitting around watching tennis. But each day he rang me wanting an exclusive: Steffi Graf's new boyfriend, Boris Becker's new girlfriend.
For the latter, I waited with a whole pack of people outside this house. His girlfriend came out and started to walk towards Wimbledon to watch him play. "You'll never make it in time," I said, before bundling her into my car. David threw half the paper out late that night - he did that a lot - for our front page exclusive.
I had this rather charmed fortnight and he gave me a staff job. From that moment he put me on this learning curve: deputy news editor, royal correspondent, features editor; fast-tracking me into awkward jobs. He loved creative tension.
As a features executive, I used to see him every morning with my usual sorry list of ideas and he'd say: "What else? What else?" They were rubbish and I had to come back with better ones. I used to get bollocked all the time. Another favourite phrase of Rommel - as Private Eye called Monty - was, when you suggested something within the editor's remit, he would fix you with a withering stare and say: "You provide the bullets, I'll fire them."
It was completely relentless, but I learnt so much from him. He taught me to be aspirational, creative and write quickly. Wherever I went after working for David seemed a doddle. Even going back to work for Kelvin was fine - I'd been through the mill and was older and more confident.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Much-loved cartoon character returns - without Sir David Jason
Actress to appear in second series of the hugely popular crime drama
Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
Scottish independence referendum live: Latest news as Scotland votes Yes or No
Scottish independence: Final opinion polls show undecided voters could swing result either way
Scottish independence: Almost half of No voters have felt 'personally threatened' by the Yes campaign
Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
- 5 Scottish independence: Andy Murray backs Yes campaign in eleventh hour decision
£60000 - £85000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Interim Head of Marketing / Marketin...
£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...
£25 - 30k: Guru Careers: A Digital Project Manager is needed to join an exciti...
£24 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Paid Search Analyst / PPC...