Monday, 11 March 2013

Saying goodbye

Hello again. I am not dead nor sleeping, and I apologise for not updating this blog for so long. But it has done its work in the sense that it is a pretty comprehensive bibliography. I just need to find some time to trawl back looking for unanswered comments.  Sorry again, to those who have made them and waited patiently.

I will now have that time, because I am retiring from the Guardian on Easter Sunday after 37 very happy years, the last 25 in the north and the last 16 as Northern Editor. This sounds like quite a long time but is dwarfed by my namesake but not relation, George Wainwright, who started as a boy messenger on the Manchester Guardian in Cross Street and carried out all manner of jobs, notably as librarian and then secretary to our legendary editor CP Scott.

In the latter role he was known for gazing disparagingly at the great man as he wobbled off on his bicycle to ride home to Didsbury, and commenting that a tram would get him in the end if he didn't take more care. One of my treasured possessions is a copy of the Cross Street Journal, the old MG house magazine, which has a photo of George being given a teapot by Laurence Scott to mark 59 years' service. And he wasn't retiring!

I am. And for family reasons I am also moving south, to Oxford, happy and secure that in Helen Pidd, I have the best of successors as Northern Editor, one who will make sure that the north has its proper place in the paper to which it gave birth.  I will shut up about the north in public, while no doubt gabbing on in private, especially if anyone ever makes the mistake in my presence of using the word 'grim'.  I have never approved of northerners who leave the north but continue to write about it as if they were still there. I won't.

I'm just getting this done promptly because the Guardian has kindly indulged me with a farewell piece which is here, and which has been linked to this blog.  I didn't want anyone arriving here as a result to find some rather dated stuff from the Bradford West by-election (post below).  If you trawl backwards, or forwards from the beginning, I hope you'll find it interesting.  All warm wishes for now. I hope to be back soon to add a copy of that photo of Teapot George.


  1. Good luck with your future plans. You are one of the reasons I bought the Guardian.

  2. That's very kind of you and means a lot to me. I'm confident that you'll feel the same about Helen and those who - I remain optimistic - will in due course join her. All warm wishes, Martin

  3. Thank you for all those words (and deeds) which kept me an avid Guardian reader and supported many causes which I thought were lost. Don't 'shut up about the north in public' - you've got too much knowledge about us. Let your wonderful observations and humour explode into print every so often. No teapot on retirement - but anticipate cups of tea from supporters throughout the north - just turn up with your muddy boots.

  4. Thanks for your great service to the north in general and Guardian readers (and radio 4 listeners) in particular. One question I can ask you in public about the great piece in yesterday's Guardian: was Jesmond's Zamyatin the author of 'We', plagiarised by George Orwell? The other question I'd like to ask in private, if you could possibly email me at maximfarrar@gmail. Yes, this is Max Farrar of Leeds (but so many other max farrars on gmail that I have to use the registrar's 'maxim'!

  5. Hi both and v many thanks - happy memories of the North York Moors, Bill, and I'll certainly be back there. as often as poss. Max - yes, that's the chap. He also wrote a couple of very funny short stories set in Jesmond which are in print. I'll find the reference. I'll also bob you an email.

    all warmest wishes,


  6. Hi, Well done on your terrific career. You wrote a blog about my early discoveries into Kate Middleton's hidden Leeds blueblood in August last year. Encouragement from my students has led to some truly astonishing finds - some of which, but by no means ALL, were published last year in the Sunday Telegraph. Please respond if you wish to do one more story before you retire; a story that sheds light on Kate's very interesting Leed's background. You're a great writer.
    Cheers M.E.Reed

  7. I am an avid reader in the Guardian, and I had lost the support of many reasons that all words (and actions) Thank you. "Shut up north" is not - you can get knowledge about us. Your beautiful and witty remarks from time to time broke into print ....
    Ben Linus,
    Cheap Baths

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