With all the zeal with which Scrooge embraces Tiny Tim, journalists of a given age appear to support the perpendicular pronoun. “I” may be the thinnest word, but with vanity, it bristles. In his perfectly phrased phrases, Hugh McIlvanney was known to perform linguistic gymnastics to refer to himself as “that reporter” to dispel the perception that the great man himself was at the core of the story, even though he always was. He recognized the fun reality that we are constantly thrown into the famous’ orbit.
It can be a risky environment, where the trick is to combine professional detachment with covert awe, then escape the envious peers, friends and family’s gentle scolding. In one often-cited case, for almost four hours in a New York hotel room, photographer Andy Hall and I pretended not to be the least bit impressed when Muhammad Ali interrupted his flow of anecdotes and tricks to talk on the phone with Will Smith while Don King cackled in the background, sitting next to one of the sinister lieutenants of Louis Farrakhan.
Ali and King then slumped on the sofa and sang Frankie and Johnny, a song whose lyrics represented a dark episode from the history of the promoter, in a passable version.
Not cherishing such surreal experiences would be perverse. Right now I’m cleaning out a little, but I don’t think I’m going to part with this one. A very wild weekend in 2001 in New York.
I made a bet with King that the rush hour traffic on 7th Avenue couldn’t hinder him.
Uh, I lost. We were sitting with Muhammad Ali half an hour later, at pic.twitter.com/nYPQ3clV7o-Kevin Mitchell.
I abhor the December 28, 2020 vacuum cleaner (@kevinmitchell50).
What I (unfortunately) really wanted to do when I grew up was to play Duke Ellington’s sax, but Johnny Hodges refused to die.
I didn’t own a saxophone either. It was unspeakably fun to write about the exploits of others, from political good-for-nothings and offenders, artist forms of different pedigrees (from Van Morrison to Barbara Carrera), and a few giants of sports life, too, having failed to achieve the pinnacle. Read onWithout wanting to put you all to sleep, this reporter’s journey started in 1970 at a local newspaper in Maitland, New South Wales, and ended in our industry’s Shangri-La, Fleet Street, where no one gets old, even though every hungover muscle and bone says otherwise. Last post: dry eyes and a blank screen, but after 31 years, a fond farewell | Vic MarksRead on After fifty sun-drenched summers, as dear Frank Keating may have said, I am the last man to stand and just have a stump over or over…. What an unexpected romp to the finish line: in front of the mandatory bookshelf on Zoom all year round, which pretends to be far closer to the action than the kitchen and the coffee.
For all of us, including, of course, the people we were writing about, it was odd. The paradox is that they exist most of the time in a bubble anyway. It’s an impossible job in this industry to differentiate between name-dropping and modest boasting, but those who were kind enough to share their time all made an impact.
Seve Ballesteros was boyish yet imperious; Dave Mackay (with whom I spent the better part of a summer) was strict but welcoming; Richie Benaud (who I knew away from the cameras) judged every utterance as a leg-breaker looking for a home; Don King was a long comedy routine, particularly during a crazy week in Cairo, with u. It was an unexpected joy to get to know some of them.
It was a few years ago in Cincinnati when I got (excuse me) Andy Murray’s first full-throated laugh.
A while had passed. “When we thought about airline miles, miserable restaurants, boxing and sore backs, “Do you think you’re going to retire before me?” this reporter asked. Two Grand Slam titles and many Masters had already been won by him, with a body that throbbed like an old geezer. In its early stages, his draft-horse limp was.
But far from done, he was. He said, giving himself a wide grin as if he had just won a bet, “I guess you’d like that,” Secretly, our little clique of traveling stuff wondered.