The Third Leader: Raise your glasses to Fleet Street

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The Independent Online

So, farewell then. I did think about resisting the temptation to use that phrase when saluting yesterday's obsequies over Fleet Street, but finally decided that this was what the old place would have wanted, as it never knowingly resisted a temptation in all its life.

So, farewell then. I did think about resisting the temptation to use that phrase when saluting yesterday's obsequies over Fleet Street, but finally decided that this was what the old place would have wanted, as it never knowingly resisted a temptation in all its life.

And it would certainly have appreciated, too, the appearance of Mr Rupert Murdoch, grandson of the Manse, father of The Sun, and author of its downfall, in the role of principal mourner, giving it a last lesson at St Bride's; for, above all, it valued irony, chutzpah and cheek.

And, as we have been much reminded, a drink. I should, though, like to amend some misconceptions. This was responsible, not binge, drinking, in that it was (heroically) steady and at least one member of the party would always stay sober enough to type. And stylish: the first Fleet Street journalist I was allowed to buy a drink for ordered a creme de menthe.

I carry with me now the looks on the faces of some earlier touring Australian Test cricketers as they surveyed the scenes in the Fleet Street pub where they had been brought, for some unfathomable reason, to publicise lager. And this despite a brand new carpet, even though the old one, as some columnist put it, had just been ready to take spin.

All changed now, of course. Well, not quite. Some of the spirit survives. Fleet Street was an old cynic, and a shabby one in many ways, but it was also sentimental, especially about the truth, which is why present practitioners, dispersed though we be to our various plazas and towers of broken dreams, should be proud to keep its name alive. Cheers.

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