( A ) The last issue
Thank you and good bye. What a simple headline for a sensational newspaper. And on Sunday 10th July 2011 the curtain fell on the News of the World an old British Sunday newspaper that had survived since 1843 - 168 years in print!
“So what ?” one might ask. Indeed it does mean something to me. It is one of those items in my life that stretch my memory back, this time, to half a century ago.
An innocent young Malay lad was transported away from home to settle in an English home with lads from five other countries but Malaya; from Iraq, South Africa, India, Peru, and a working man from North Ireland. And the landlady who looked after the house and cooked for them was an elderly lady from Scotland, Mrs Robertson, a widow. At first the Malay lad thought at least he had for company a fellow Muslim from Iraq. He had that impression when during their conversation the Iraqi stated the best Arabic text is in the Quran. At the breakfast table came the surprise. The Iraqi seemed to be enjoying his bacon and egg! He turned out to be a Christian. Nevertheless, the atmosphere in the house, called ‘digs’, was one of friendliness. In the morning they trouped out on their bicycles heading for the same college, and every evening they met at the same dining table, the early arrival trying to secure one of the chairs with coal fire burning hot at the back. Oh, what a pleasure it was to come in from the cold to warm the palms of you hands in front of the fire!
It was those early days the Malay lad began to get acquainted with English newspapers. The Times was a heavy reading. But people would steal a look at you if you carried one. The young lad settled for Manchester Guardian, politically known to lean towards the opposition party of that time.
Then on Sundays there was the News of the World. What a paper that was, concentrating and specializing in sex scandals in lurid details. The lad never had that sort of eye-opener back home in Utusan Melayu (in jawi). This was exciting beyond words. However it did not take for him to learn that people read this paper on the quiet but showed expression of distain towards people who read it. ‘Wasn’t this a form of hypocrisy?’ the boy often wondered. Half a century ago, the standard of morality in the mass media was still conservative. So, quite naturally, the lad began to learn how not to show his liking for that Sunday paper. Fold the paper and tuck it nicely in the inner pocket of your overcoat. And every few days or so, flash your copy of Manchester Guardian. That did the trick. That was, indeed, a sign of sophistication in that boy from Malaya, some of whom thought was located in Singapore!
So, on the quiet I enjoyed News of the World, making doubly sure that I showed my liking for Manchester Guardian – but I truly did enjoy both.
It is a shame the paper has to go. But nothing lives forever, I suppose. Even my Manchester Guardian has lost its Manchester.
( B ) The man I knew.
Having freshly seen the end of a ‘great’ newspaper I was saddened to read the demise of a person I used to know well. Raja Aziz Addruse, the three-time Bar Council president. He passed away on Tuesday, 12th July. I have not seen him the last twenty years. The last time we had a chit chat was at the Lake Club when my family used to frequent that very special club in KL.
Raja Aziz was in UK about the same as I was (the time I was enjoying the News of the World ). At the same time my old class-mate of ’55 was also in UK doing his law. The latter was Tan Sri Wan Adnan who showed his brilliance in breezing through his course in two years when others laboured for three. Sadly he passed away prematurely, just one short sure step to take over the topmost post of he judiciary.
In the early ’60, our bachelor days, the three of us used to share a room on top of a shop house on Jalan Traverse, KL. Imagine how close we were then. But our careers brought us adrift, though Wan Adnan, and his family, remained close right to the end.
We shared a lot in common. We enjoyed the same age and were shipped to the same country to study. Today,of the three, I am the only one left behind, to reminisce and say my prayers and AlFatihah in memory of their valued friendship. I no longer need to remind myself that nothing, no one lives FOREVER, in all its majesty and glory.
The much celebrated surah Al Rahman has this to remind me.
“All that lives on earth is doomed to die. But the Face of your Lord will abide FOREVER, in all its majesty and glory” - Dawood
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