Skip to main content


Piste overnight

You were aware, even before pushing the pub doors open, that Paul Iredale was inside - and having fun. His joie de vivre, in particular a distinctive and booming laugh, carried to the pavement and enthralled his fellow travellers at the bar. Paul had presence, and he had it in spades.

He was also a man of courage, energy and great integrity, an attribute which earned him enormous respect as an NUJ negotiator both at Reuters and, later, as a national union official.

I remember discussing his feelings of mortality soon after prostate cancer was diagnosed some 20 years ago and it was clear he had no intention of allowing it to get him down. On all the scores of social occasions since, there was not a single moment when he revealed any hint of self pity about the card he had been dealt.

In the light of his success as a Reuter correspondent it’s worth recalling that Paul might never have had the chance to express his talents if a certain editor had been allowed to have his way. This executive, who shall be nameless, summoned Paul into his office around 1980 and suggested that Reuters was not really the place for him and that he probably would be happier on a newspaper, or perhaps the BBC.

This editor did the same to me and another chap called A.N.Other. We all ignored the advice.

Not long after, Paul was on a World Desk overnight stint when talk turned to the sport of sword fencing. It transpired that he and Bill Saltmarsh had both been keen fencers at school. The wide corridors between desks on the 4th floor of 85 Fleet Street were deemed to be perfect for a fencing piste so a fight, with all the correct kit, was scheduled for the following night at 4 am.

Bill and Paul, both well over six feet and probably 16 stone apiece, danced nimbly up and down the corridor to the delight of a small but vocal group of editors, telegraphists and copy-takers. The result is forgotten, but let’s call it a draw.

Paul was a dedicated member of the Short Lunch Club for all its 20 years and will be missed hugely for his love of the craic. I’m sure the club will join me in sending sincere condolences to Paul’s beloved wife Maggie, who shared his burden for so many years. ■