Tribute to a paper legend

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THE worst thing about growing old is the ever-increasing number of friends and acquaintances who are picked off by the great sniper in the sky, leaving one to wonder who’s next for the chop.

A couple of days ago I read in the national Guardian an obituary concerning a brilliant newspaperman called Frank Chapman who died recently at the good old age of 87.

He was an old Fleet Street hand who preferred his native Kent to London and took up a less well-paid and less-prestigious job as news editor of the weekly Kent and Sussex Courier based at Royal Tunbridge Wells. And there he stayed for the rest of his working life, rising to group editor and board member.

I owe a lot to Frank Chapman. I was a cub reporter on the Courier, slightly older than my junior colleagues and infinitely more worldly-wise having been a seaman and a regular soldier. In truth, I was a very naughty boy, a sworn enemy of discipline in any form and virtually unmanageable.

My private life was chaotic; I was a legend in my own lunchtime.

See The Visitor (26-01-11) for full story.