Rick's personal touch
Friday 6 December 2019
I first met Rick in my early days as a trainee in London Bureau in 1967. He sent me off to cover the Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, something that an uncouth lad from a northern colliery village thought of as jingoistic claptrap. Overcoming my scepticism, I managed to turn out a piece about this oddball bit of British behaviour - which somehow then scored well in the impacts, especially in the US (where Reuters had made very little inroads at the time). It opened my eyes to the great international market for all things quirkily British, advice I passed on to new trainees when back in the Bureau years later.
Just over a year ago, shortly after I had received a daunting cancer diagnosis, Rick called me, despite his difficulties using the telephone. After a brief stutter early on, he then spoke fluently and knowledgeably for some 15-20 minutes about the cancer I had, reassuring me that it was one with a high survival rate. How he came about this knowledge I do not know, but it was a great boost at a dark time. What I do know, is that he was a very well-read man (his musician son Adam has recorded a track on one of his albums called "My father's books").
On a quite separate note with regard to Ernie Mendoza's mention of bizarre postings - there must be many such. One I particularly remember is the late David Bonavia's only posting for Reuters was Zambia, despite being both a Russian and a Mandarin speaker. He went on to postings in the Soviet Union and China for The Times, before spending many years at the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong. ■