Simon Haydon - a true hack and real fun
Friday 27 November 2020
I didn't know Simon Haydon well. Nor for long. But what I knew I liked and admired. In emails shared by colleagues this week he is described as "a true hack", "a nice bloke and real fun", "a resourceful reporter and amusing companion" and "a great guy and great journalist".
My contacts with Simon centre mainly on his early Reuter days in the 1980s as an Oslo correspondent. Oslo was the type of posting where the sole international staffer was expected to report everything. In Norway that meant producing a file weighted heavily towards economic and financial news. If the daily econ drudgery was not to Simon's taste, he never showed it. Irrepressibly good-humoured, he got on with whatever job fell to hand. Those early years may have burdened him with coverage of Norway's consumer prices and oil exploration licence allocations. But that burden didn't bar him later from covering the downfall of Ceausescu or becoming AP's go-to guy for the world's top sports events. Simon serves as a great role model for all Reuter recruits. By all means keep a passion for a particular type of news; but once you take the Baron's shilling, be ready to cover anything.
My last proper contact with Simon came when he escorted the retiring Norway stringer Henry Henriksen to London. As Oslo correspondent it fell to Simon to ensure London feted Henry with proper respect, including a grip ’n' grin with various bigwigs, a presentation and celebratory meal. Henry, whose main job was on the foreign desk of the NTB news agency, was a distinguished Old School stringer - very pro-British, fiercely loyal to Reuters, and willing to work more for the honour than the remuneration - although the occasional gifted bottle of duty-free Glenfiddich never went amiss.
If you start your international career well, it usually indeed goes well. That's what happened for Simon. ■