With foreign correspondents becoming a rapidly disappearing breed, as newspapers cut their editorial budgets, too often the derring-do and panache of these ladies and gentlemen of the press, now only emerge in their obituaries.
There was a splendid example of this genre in yesterday's obituary pages in The Scotsman when Fred Bridgeland paid tribute to the life of Christopher Munnion, for three decades the Daily Telegraph’s man in Africa, who has died in Johannesburg, aged 70.
The obituary reveals the origins of great datelines like: ‘Timbuktu, Tuesday’ and how ‘Banana, Sunday’ became ‘Banana, Monday’, and recalls what Munnion and fellow foreign correspondents regard ”as the best opening paragraph ever written to a news story, one all would have loved as their own”.
Bridgeland says the story was by legendary Africa hand, Peter Younghusband, writing in the shadow of Sheba’s Breasts, two symmetrical twin mountains in Swaziland.
“His story began minimally: ‘Sheba’s Breasts, Saturday. I like it here.’”