14 October 2020, The Tablet

When you work somewhere for a long time, you end up sharing a little of its identity


When you work somewhere for a long time, you end up sharing a little of its identity
 

Every so often I find that I think of events in terms of a bad sermon, complete with Bible text. So when the newspaper that employed me for almost all my working life made me redundant this week, I could imagine the thing as a sermon. The text would be Exodus 1:8 – “There arose a new king over Egypt that knew not Joseph.” Not that I am giving myself airs by the comparison, just that it is a useful way of looking at loyalty to an institution which passes into other hands.

In my case, the change came when George Osborne, former Chancellor, took over as editor of the Evening Standard. He is clever and amusing, but I did not, alas, see things in quite the way he did, which put paid to my job as leader writer (which I had done under seven editors) and my more recent billet as a comment editor. My incapacity to shut up about what I think didn’t help, though when he teased me by saying that all Catholic priests are gay, I didn’t mind, as I hope he didn’t mind when I told him to get lost.

I became arts critic, which was hugely enjoyable, though I laboured under the knowledge that I had as predecessor a really great and inimitable critic, Brian Sewell. Covid first put paid to that; then, when the paper passed to a new editor and there was a cull of staff and a move to a “digitally led operation”, I bit the dust. Really, the paper had been unrecognisably different ever since George, whose approach to editing was quite unlike that of any of his predecessors, took charge.

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