Christopher Parkes (FT 1977-2006) top left
I had been labouring as a freelance in Brussels with O level French for anyone who would buy my copy. At my job interview in early 1977, editor Fredy Fisher told me he was looking for an experienced journalist: “I have many bright young men here, Eton, Balliol and all of that, but none of them can write.”
I doubt now-celebrated novelist James (then Jamie) Buchan and his many talented colleagues would have been pleased.
Minutes later, I was checked over by David Palmer, news editor, in a purple shirt with a white collar and a piercing stare, who demanded: “Which college?”
Salford Tech was the best a Mancunian grammar school chap could offer.
I joined the FT on All Fools’ Day, 1977 as deputy commodities editor writing about coffee futures and the Common Agricultural Policy, buried in a Bracken House cubby hole with no window. John Edwards, my immediate boss, and legendary luncher, took a look at my long curly hair and crazed beard: “You look like a rat stuck in a dead bear’s bum.”