What a brilliant way to start the festive season. Lunch at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street with some of my best pals from the old Evening Standard days, followed by a drink or two at one of our favourite haunts, the Punch Tavern.
As the drinks flowed, the years rolled away and the stories got wilder. We reminisced about the days when mobile phones were the size of bricks, laptops were the stuff of Tomorrow’s World and reporters sat in untidy rows, churning out copy on battered old typewriters. We’d sometimes repair to the pub for a swift half after filing for the first edition (and by first edition I mean 9.30am). Virtually every newspaper was based in and around Fleet Street, where trucks parked up every evening to load the first editions on board and you couldn’t walk more than a few yards without bumping into someone you knew.
Now the place is sleek and soulless, filled with anonymous, glass-fronted banks and chic restaurants. Fleet Street’s finest photographers almost brought the place to a standstill after lunch, unable to resist taking scores of pictures of the place we all love.
The afternoon was a blur of crazy anecdotes and laughter but what struck me most was the camaraderie that has endured for more than a quarter of a century. Some of us had travelled miles to be there – from as far afield as Sweden and Ireland – and many of us hadn’t seen each other in years. Yet it was as if time had stood still and we were snatching a quick (or not so quick) lunch break before hurrying back to the news room for the next edition.
Picture: Mike Lawn