A Columnist Remembers

Quite some years back when I first started writing for a forerunner of this publication I would often refer to “The Dragon Lady” who was a person that had a speech impediment. (She had to stop talking to take a breath). The reason that I mention this is that some of my favourite columnists also created characters that were or are used to generate a little humour into their columns. Now I am sure that the “Dragon Lady” would not have let heavy rain or floods affect her ability to continue a conversation under water. If you read the columns of Richard Glover you would note that from time to time “Clancy the dog” takes over his column. I also recall that a column in a Sydney daily newspaper a few years ago before the internet the term “LOL” was used to describe the actions of Little Old Ladies in a humorous manner. Now the term “LOL” is used to say “Laugh Out Loud” although it is sometimes used for “Lots of Love”

Being a person having an interest in matters of journalism and the media I like to catch up on some of the characters of the craft. Recently I came across an old book written and compiled by Gilbert Mant. I would doubt that many of our current readers would have known about this personage. Gilbert was born in 1902 and died in 1997 and worked as a journalist, columnist and publicity officer for a range of news and community organisations. His first position was with the “Daily Telegraph” in Sydney in 1925. He joined the Reuters news organisation in 1931, working in London and Canada, then in SE Asia as a war correspondent. He later became a Commonwealth Censor in Adelaide during the war. Later he joined “The Sunday Sun” newspaper in Sydney as a journalist and columnist in 1945. His column was titled “The Way I See It” and in that he introduced a mythical character called Dr. F. (Call Me Friar) Balsam. Who would often raid the medicine cabinet for pure (for medicinal purposes only) alcohol. Anyway, to cut a long story short, as I could go on forever with some of the antics of that character. I will cut to what Gilbert Mant summarised of his life back in 1994. I am sure that many of our readers will be able to relate to his comments. This is what he had to say at the age of 92.

“The older one becomes, the quicker the days, weeks, months and years go by. A year is an eternity to a young child wishing that Christmas would come again sooner. When you become 90, time really becomes a precious commodity. Time does not go by, it flies by.” Gilbert Mant also went on to say “I’ve lived from the horse-and-buggy days to the silicone chip. When I was born there was not in general use electricity, wireless, moving pictures, talking pictures, television, motor cars, aeroplanes, household refrigerators, poker machines or video games. Beyond nuclear power and the silicone chip lies what? Maybe there will not be any more need for human beings. It will be back to square one.”

I will write more of what Gilbert Mant said back in 1994 at a later date.

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