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Down the centuries, the journalists’ church of St Bride in Fleet Street, in the heart of London, has seen so many important events, year by year in the Christian calendar, as well as concerts and memorial services for those connected with this country’s great newspaper industry.
Such a memorial service took place on December 1, when the church was filled to capacity to recognise the life of Sir Edward Pickering, whom many believe was the finest journalist the ‘street’ has seen for decades. He was by far the elder statesman of his profession.
The arrival of so many people prompted one American tourist to observe that she was so impressed she felt that she wanted ‘to be in that church.’
Not only was Sir Edward a fine journalist, but also in later years he was to become the most skilful of all managers in their constant battle on how to handle awkward, often belligerent Fleet Street Press barons. It was gloriously fitting that the very church where he frequently worshipped – he was indeed the Master of the Guild of St Bride’s – should be the place where the hundreds would come and pay their respects and their own personal tributes. Sir Edward’s spirit was in the place, and will surely stay there forever.
Sir Edward, who died in August aged 91, also shared a passionate love for music with his wife Rosemary. The world-famous choir, under its director Robert Jones, sang Thomas Tallis and the ‘Gloria’ from Mozart’s Coronation Mass. The nave roof and the organ loft at the West End of the church also rang out to George Gershwin’s ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ and that wonderfully charismatic Cole Porter number ‘Night and Day.’
In fact all this music at the service pretty well summed up this great character, right down to the last verse of the last hymn sung in his honour:
There could have been no better anecdote to tell than the one related by Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive of The News Corporation, the parent company of The Times, where Sir Edward was executive vice-chairman. Mr Murdoch said that Sir Edward’s own formula for survival was: “When you find yourself trapped in a cage with a tiger, you quickly learn in which direction to stroke his fur!”
May he rest in peace.
And rise in glory.