Despite MS: Career began August 10 and still writing 50 years on

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Doesn’t time fly? Well. During the pandemic, no, but generally over the years. It certainly has for me.

Today, August 10 2020, is a memorable date for me, as an important milestone in my life. For it was on the morning of this day in 1970, which was also a Monday, that this fresh-faced teenager arrived at the Kentish Independent newspaper, in south east London’s Woolwich, to start work as a junior reporter.

50 years

Not 50 years ago but it is me 38 years ago. Had MS then but undiagnosed..

Yes, today is the 50th anniversary, of the very beginning of my career in journalism. Aged 17 and 9 months, I had left school at the end what the British then called the lower sixth , but is now more universally known as year 12. School ended on Tuesday July 21 and , less than three weeks later, I had become gainfully employed.

No sign then that life would require me to face and overcome first epilepsy and, later, multiple sclerosis.

Not that overcoming means getting better. Unfortunately, the MS (in my case PPMS, the primary progressive type) continues to progress and seriously affects my mobility, so I have to use a  wheechair. Overcoming means having to live with it. Epilepsy is still present too, and seizures are of the grand mal variety. But twice daily medication has kept seizures away for 45 years.

Back to 1970, I remember my first-ever story was about a playgroup in Burrage Road, Plumstead. Heady stuff! And, before I set out with the one staff photographer, the editor said to me, very quietly, “when you see the picture you want, point him (the photographer) inb the right direction and give him a kick up the …..”. So eloquently put, I thought.

A nostalgic walk down memory lane

That evening, my parents and I went out for a dual celebration that I had started my chosen career and my dad’s 54th birthday. Today, it seems strange to be writing about my dad being 54 while I am now 67. But, of course 50 years have now passed by.

50 years

Pipe smoking Charlie King, popular editor, Kentish Independent.

I still recall the newsroom and its colourful personalities: excitable managing editor Eric Wintle ‘never mind the facts, give me the sensation’; calm editor Charles ‘Charlie’ King a father-figure; crossword enthusiast news sub-editor Jack Robinson wanted accuracy above all; newsroom gentle man (two words deliberately) entertainment sub George Glazebrook, an absolute master of written humour; outwardly dour sports sub Frank Hayward actually had an unexpected comic side; and football-playing Young Communist sports editor Peter Cordwell an ever jovial guy.

Sitting directly opposite me was veteran chief reporter Bill Kerr who enjoyed too many pints of beer for his own good; senior reporter Peter Burrowes who could never seem to spell ‘accommodation’ correctly; and feisty reporter Diane Montague who used to raise blood pressures by leaning over the back copy files as her miniskirts inched  ever higher.

I could go on but this is not a book.

August 10, 50 years on, wow.

Today, I am retired, but continue to write because I enjoy it, it is therapeutic , and I can!

No longer writing for a living, membership of the UK’s National Union of Journalists, and similar organisations, is not open to me but I am delighted to now be recognised as a member of the International Association of Independent Journalists.

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Please note that being born in the UK, all my posts, are written using British English spelling.

For example:

Centre      not center (except in names, Centers of Disease Control)    Colour                               not color                                                                                     Diarrhoea                       not diarrhea                                                      Haematology                not hematology                                                                          Haematopoietic          not hematopoietic

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * is the personal website of Ian Franks. He enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor in the print media. He gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. More recently, he was a freelance medical writer and editor for various health information sites. Ian received a diagnosis of MS in 2002 and now lives in the south of Spain. He uses a wheelchair and advocates on mobility and accessibility issues.

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Note: Health-related information available on 50shadesofsun website is for your general knowledge only. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. Ian is not a doctor, so cannot and does not give you medical advice. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues. Also, consult a doctor before starting a new diet or exercise programme. Any opinions expressed are purely his own unless otherwise stated.


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