The world lost a truly great man this week in the form of journalist Alexander Chancellor.
Since his days editing the brilliant Independent Saturday magazine in the nineties, Alexander had been a journalistic hero of mine. I used to love that supplement and copied it shamelessly when creating the Idler. Alexander is best known for reinvigorating the Spectator and creating a lively and anarchic magazine, quite different from the right wing political rag it has turned into today. He also launched a magazine at the Telegraph and edited the New Yorker‘s Talk of the Town section for a year under Tina Brown.
I was lucky enough to meet him a couple of years ago, having been introduced by James Pembroke, publisher of the Oldie magazine, which Alexander edited for the last four years. We hung out a few times over various lunch and dinner tables, Alexander chuckling away, smoking and drinking and singing songs from old musicals. Bering in his company was pure pleasure. He was a great cook, completely self-effacing, free of pomposity, hugely sophisticated and very funny. He had something of the old Fleet Street about him: not taking things too seriously, but producing work of the highest standard at the same time. He was not an actor manqué or a show-off like many journalists. He was the real deal.
He was working till the end, and the Spectator this week publishes his final column. I am so sad to see off my journalistic hero.