KEITH Newbery’s last column for The News was on Saturday, March 30, 2013.
No matter if you shared his opinions or were strongly opposed to them, they were a must-read.
In his last column he savages two of his favourite targets, Peter Mandelson and Tony Blair – who he describes as: ‘The former prime minister – who now looks like the product of an unlikely coupling between David Dickinson and Charles Hawtrey.’
And he bowed out with this farewell:
‘If I’ve kept a few of you entertained, I’m glad’
‘Being able to air your opinions publicly is a rare privilege.
‘It is one that I have enjoyed for more than 40 years in The News (it was called the Portsmouth Evening News when I started!)
‘However, this column is my last.
‘As my 65th birthday beckons, life now has other priorities.
‘If I’ve managed to keep just a few of you mildly entertained over the years, then I’m glad.
‘However, if I’ve managed to enrage some of you to the point of demanding editors sack me (Peter Mandelson tried it once) the pleasure’s been all mine.
‘No columnist wants (or expects) to be liked or admired. To be read is the only reward we seek.
‘So thank you for your time – and goodbye.’
Fittingly, The News’ own veteran reporter Chris Owen carried out the last interview with Keith ahead of that final column, at his home in Ryde, on his beloved Isle of Wight.
In it he explains how Keith mistook him for a Jehovah’s Witness come to give him salvation, and growled at Chris to leave him alone.
Chris writes: ‘The curt style of that greeting will be more than familiar to readers of The News, who have either enjoyed or endured Keith’s words for more than four decades.
‘Love him or detest him, he has built up a phalanx of followers for whom today will be filled with gloom.’