In the 1907 short story The Death of Simon Fuge, by Arnold Bennett, the following exchange occurred:
“Do you ever see the Manchester Guardian?” he questioned, carrying the war into my camp.
“No,” I said.
“Pity!” he ejaculated.
“I’ve often heard that it’s a very good paper,” I said politely.
“It isn’t a very good paper,” he laid me low. “It’s the best paper in the world. Try it for a month – it gets to Euston at half-past eight - and then tell me what you think.”
Say no more – and it was only 86 years old then.
• I’m in my 55th year as a reader, having begun at Sheffield University in 1966. I knew it was important to read a paper and didn’t feel that the Daily Express, as favoured by my parents, was quite the thing. The WH Smith kiosk in the students’ union had two banners: “Top people take the Times” and “Graduate with the Guardian”. Timid and shy, I could never imagine myself a top person, but I definitely wanted to graduate. I’ve been proud to call myself a Guardian reader ever since.
• I have happy memories of the Guardian assisting me to come out at work. In 1992, the pope had criticised homosexuality, so I wrote to you criticising what he had said. You published the letter, with my name, address and blessing. A colleague saw it and broadcast the news around the office. I was thrilled and relieved at the positive reaction.
• At the beginning of lockdown, I subscribed to the online edition and I’ve enjoyed reading it in bed each morning with my tea. But I was not prepared for the infinitely greater pleasure of thumbing through the print edition that we bought on Saturday with my coffee. I’d quite forgotten the joy of it.
Dr Christine Kent
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