Clive White looks back at some of the stories he has covered over his 48 years in journalism

I TOOK my Biro from behind my ear, threw my shorthand notebook in the bin and called it a day on Friday, May 25.

Like "Motty" the legendary football commentator, I'd worked in the same job, in my case a journeyman reporter, for 48 years.

So over that nearly half century of scribbling, I've seen astonishing changes from the cooling off days of hot metal newspaper production to the staggering advances new technology has brought.

When I started as a 19 year-old almost straight out of school in 1969, the newsroom I plonked down in was little changed from that which Orson Welles in the 1940s film Citizen Kane would have recognised.

Technologically we were in the dark ages, bashing away on ancient Imperial type writers with warn down ribbons and loose keys. There was one telephone on its sanctified table which we six reporters shared. The din we made was ear bashing and if that wasn't enough, a none-smoker like me had to endure the chocking fumes from Gauloise French fags billowing from the reporter opposite and the pungent emission blown from a fat cigar enjoyed by the chief reporter who was fond of wearing shirt sleeve suspenders and occasionally a green baize peeked cap.

Amidst all that we had to produce our copy in "takes," sheets of blank newsprint, about seven inch by three, on which we honed our tales. Mine were littered with literals and inset sentences and it's a wonder anything ever landed on the page.

The newsroom was festooned with piles of paper and "bumf" stuff not worthy of attention and each reporter had his or her own spike upon which was skewered hand-outs, newspaper cuttings and other material relevant to any particular story written that day.

Reporters in the 21st century are expected to be glued to their desks most of the time enslaved to their computers. We, on the other hand, were encouraged to be out of the office as much as possible harvesting the news on our "patches" at council meetings and courts, spending many a lunchtime in the boozer. Most modern reporters won't see the inside of a court room or even a council chamber and liquid lunches are rightly frowned upon.

When out of the office, especially if working for the daily paper on a breaking news story, you were expected to keep in contact with newsdesk which was plotting your whereabouts and demanding quick copy, despite mobile phones being a thing of science fiction.

So those days spent loafing the streets came in useful for more than news gathering, if only to learn where all the public telephone boxes were located. Phoning in copy - essentially composing your story straight from your notebook - became something of an art.

When no phone box was on hand, thick skinned cheek paid off with a knock on the door of a nearby house with a request to use their telephone. Most people were quick to invite you in, point out the blower and then stand around, a goggle eyed audience, as you dictated your copy to the copy-taker, literally crossing the t's and dotting the i's and then handing over two bob - 10p - for the call.

Working so long in an area has its advantages and disadvantages. On the downside too much court reporting is bad for your property. I've had my car tyres slashed.

But the upside has exquisite sweetness as in this one of many instances. Scores of "Fleet Street" and daily provincial reporters, along with TV and radio news gatherers, swarmed into town chasing an exclusive about a notorious killer. I stood amongst the rabble outside the house of one of his relatives. Hacks were shouting for her to come out and speak but she was having no truck with anyone and stayed inside peering around her curtains.

Then suddenly she appeared from the front door, looked in my direction, pointed at me and called: "Clive, is that you? Come on up!" I left the rest slack jawed with envy and my easily won the exclusive.