The presses are rolling to a stop, the last dregs of a Boag’s ale downed in the journalists’ watering hole, the Hope and Anchor, the last cigarette stubbed in the ashtray.
Don Bentley, one shave behind the world and one drink ahead of it, has come to the end of his 50-year career in newspapers, coinciding with the demise of his beloved Chronicle which had a lifespan a little longer than Bentley’s working life, 167 years.
For nearly 18 years I have written of the exploits of Don Bentley and the equally fictitious Chronicle. In regular contributions to the Tasmanian Times website, I set out to give a portal to the world of journalism, its history, role and the characters who made newsrooms of the past such riotous and colourful places of employment. The Chronicle, a broadsheet with its roots in Victorian times struggling to exist in the electronic 21st century, might not have been real but it could have been. And Don Bentley himself represented an amalgam, a blend, of journalists I have known in my own half century at the typeface.
After 70 columns and a staggering quarter of a million words (I’ve counted them) I’ve decided to move on, contributing one last column. This is largely devoted to the carousing and hard drinking that for two centuries has oiled the wheels of the vehicles that travel the roads of the fourth estate.
I thank Lindsay for his devotion to Tassietimes, his own chronicle, and the encouragement and space he has given me over nearly two decades to tell my stories. The stories will continue, if not in print, but over beers at the Hope and Anchor.