Tom’s retirement from the world of professional journalism had a relatively slow gestation and then by all accounts, a speedy conclusion all of it connected to his ownership of an ancient Imperial typewriter.
When he first put pen to paper for the Torquay Times many, many years earlier it was as an intern: unpaid. In fact it was a year before he was given an actual salaried job and to mark the occasion his family presented him an Imperial portable typewriter. (Ed: Even when I began in journalism in the late 1960s I was expected to buy my own typewriter).
Over the years he probably typed thousands of stories on this machine and despite it’s weight lugged it around when it was necessary to work away from his home office. Each year while he was in Whitby he took the bus to Robin Hood’s Bay and delivered the machine to a typewriter mechanic, who in Tom’s words, blew away the dust and oiled the keys.
However as time passed the newspaper industry embraced burgeoning new ways of working and by his own admission Tom was old school and certainly no technologist. He always kept a lightbulb in the fittings in his flat lest the electricity leak out and, right up until he moved out of his Whitby flat kept his milk and cheese in a patent unpowered cool box which relied on evaporation of water for refrigeration.
So, when, in 1981, the Evening Gazette announced that it would be computerising its operations, Tom threw in the towel and two weeks later he was gone! In his files was a copy of a letter he wrote to an old friend and fellow journalist and author Tom Barker, one time Editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, he records that his retirement came three months early “the whole business settled in just over a fortnight”.
“If at the beginning of 1981 a fortune teller had told me that before the year was out I would be an ex-newspaperman I would have been extremely sceptical,” he wrote.
For a time Tom remained in his flat in Hanover Terrace, Whitby, and eventually was the only tenant. With the property sold, awaiting its eventual modernisation the time was right for a move to Lincolnshire to be nearer his family and, as it turned out, the beginning of a new chapter.