My hero Paul Callan



Two names in the Drone took me back to the start of the 60s – Tom Tullett and Paul Callan. My best pal's dad was a Flying Squad officer at Scotland Yard and he put me in touch with Tom, then the Mirror's chief crime reporter and an ex-copper. Through one of his contacts he steered me to a job as a cub reporter on the South London Advertiser in Brixton. It was a shoestring operation and I was quickly 'poached' by a bigger group of newspapers – owned by Provincial Newspapers, later to become United Newspapers.

After a few months a chap with a bit of an Antipodean accent arrived to become my chief reporter. It was Paul Callan, who in those days had to stand in the same place twice to cast a shadow. He had just returned from New Zealand where he worked on the Auckland Star. 

I was in awe of him when we covered a murder hearing at Penge Magistrates' Court on press day. To make sure we got the story into the next edition I was delegated to run copy for Paul and was so impressed with how quickly he hand wrote the story. 

I was a working class kid from a north-west London tenement. But I did meet a member of the aristocracy regularly – Lord Lucan's mother, who was our Labour councillor. She used to deliver copies of Marylebone Labour Life to Mum and Dad, who was a paid up member of the party.

© 2005-2022 Alastair McIntyre