Zella takes a ticket to ride after 15 years at The News

It was probably about year 13 when I started thinking, wow, I have been a long time in this job.And the job I’m talking about? It’s being a columnist for The News.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 10:30 am
Updated Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 10:39 am
One of Zella Compton's earliest columns, in 2007, for The News

I was giddy with excitement when I started, picturing myself as the next Carrie Bradshaw, although I struggled to equate Gosport with New York.

I imagined my life would open up, full of glittering parties and social daring, when in fact, what I managed to end up with was random people coming up to me in ASDA asking me if they knew me.

One lady showed me her earlobes which confused me totally over the tomatoes, until I remembered that I’d written about lop-sided ears a few weeks before.

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All those encounters, all those letters and emails and messages on social media, have meant so much to me.

Every week for 15 years I’ve had to come up with three topics for columns, you’ve seen me through my children growing up (thanks to them and my husband for letting me – grudgingly – detail their lives), several changes of jobs, my hopes, dreams and fears, plus politics, local issues and social changes.

While some of you don’t agree with my opinion on equality, feminism, or cats, I’ve given you something to moan about.

Often I get asked to speak at events, and I used to calculate the number of topics I have written over the years. A rough estimate is nearly 3,000 different subjects.

I can only apologise for the column about cardboard tubes. That was a desperate week. I’ve written columns at my desk, on my phone, on car rides, on the back of envelopes and even dictated it over the phone.

I’ve written weeks’ worth in advance for while I was abroad, and written some in a 15-minute panic after a particularly enjoyable night before – that’ll be those cardboard tubes.

And through that time I’ve grown to love this crazy paper, and the wonderful people who read it and make our area so brilliant, and those who write in it.

But there comes a point when you realise it’s time to move on. For me that was two years ago but it’s taken me this long to pluck up the courage to say goodbye. So here it is: thank you and goodbye.

I’m loving my car fume-free daily cycle around Gosport

I am in shock about how quiet our sea is, and the roads. As dire as the situation is, let’s hope we can have some positives come out the other side.

For example, no-traffic weekends where we can all enjoy amazing cycle rides without the fear of being run over, lost in a plume of exhaust, or stuck in gridlock when our seaside roads become virtual car parks.

I am absolutely loving my daily exercise which – for me – is bike riding.

The route I used to take to work has been extended by a run round Gosport peninsular which I can stretch to about 12 miles when the wind’s not too blowy and still come in at under an hour and there’s so little traffic. Result.

Will a post-Covid-19 world be more compassionate?

When we come through all of this, inquiries will start about who was to blame and who should have acted when and how.

I sincerely hope the new budget allocation (which we’ll be paying for hundreds of years) will include a decent proportion for the NHS, for teachers, and to make sure our new key workers, like carers, supermarket staff, and those that keep the country running on a pittance, are summarily rewarded for choosing their careers and are protected.

Fast food and delivery workers should no longer be forced to suffer zero-hour contracts. I hope this government finally realises what compassion is and seeks fair recompense from the Cayman Isles.

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