Me and my Guardian: ‘Without the Guardian l would not be where l am today’

I recall in the mid-sixties campaigning for a more balanced newspaper “offer” in the library of my boarding school (hardly a bastion of left-of-centre thinking!), to counteract the predictability of the Times, Express, Mail and Telegraph. Having secured the provision of the Guardian, one of the first significant pieces of sustained, quality journalism I read was your coverage of the Aberfan disaster. Fifty-five years on, my daily fix of the Guardian remains an essential part of my routine.
Phil Murray, 73, West Lothian, UK

I discovered the Guardian, in Auckland, New Zealand when we went into our first strict lockdown last March/April. I had worked as a proofreader for a daily newspaper for decades. Also I had just retired and had booked a big holiday in the UK for June-July which of course was cancelled due to the pandemic. So I jumped online and subscribed to the Guardian (and New York Times and also the Washington Post). I quickly realised my absolute favourite was the Guardian and I’ve been reading it every day for over a year now.

As well as the news, I’m totally addicted to reading the Culture section – Film, TV & radio and Music sections. I often end up buying the books that have been reviewed in the Guardian, same with music reviews I listen to on Spotify and end up streaming TV programmes and movies from your reviews. Have to say, reading the Guardian now every day is an absolute highlight during this Groundhog Day pandemic life we’re all living. I reckon I’ll be a Guardian subscriber for life now as my parents were newspaper readers their entire lives!
Jane Wallace, 66, Auckland, New Zealand

Without the Guardian l would not be where l am today, quite simply. I discovered the paper in the early 70s when l was a foreign student living in a shared house in the Portobello area of London. My then boyfriend bought a copy every day, and soon l was hooked. A few years later, when reading Modern Greek at Oxford, l read in Travel Guardian about a small Greek island which the writer did not give the name of, for fear of attracting too many tourists to this unspoilt gem. He did, however, give some clues which l solved. These led me to the small island of Antiparos – population then under 1000. I went there, fell in love with the island and its people, and ten years later l moved there with my then husband and cat. We settled, found work (me teaching, him writing) and l am still here, 34 years later. My daughter lived here until she went to uni in the UK. Thank you Guardian!
Vigdis Vassbo, 70, Antiparos, Greece

I grew up in a conservative family in the 50’s and 60’s and my family read The Daily Telegraph. The media landscape really changed over time and I was thrilled when I found The Guardian. The Guardian is one of the most respected newspapers in the world, with exceptional journalism.
Keep up the excellent work.
Elizabeth Mary Winant, 76, San Diego, California, USA

My first exposure to the Manchester Guardian was as a twelve year old paper boy. It was 1959. The popular papers were the Daily Mirror and the Daily Express but there were a few full-sized Guardians that I could read on my paper route.

When I emigrated to Canada I had a subscription for many years to the Guardian Weekly and now I have a digital subscription to the Guardian. Coming from Cheshire I still affectionately refer to it as The Manchester Guardian.
David C Cox, 73, British Columbia, Canada

I arrived in UK aged 16. I had been living on a small island 5000 miles away, with the outside world limited to a 10 minute BBC World Service news bulletin each evening, and Sunday afternoons spent reading Time magazine. I knew that Richard Nixon had won all but one state in the Electoral College, that the Yes side had won a British referendum on membership of the EEC and (among a host of other things) that the Polisario Front was fighting a war of independence somewhere. Then two years in an English boarding school and the world got utterly lost.

As soon as I had a chance I started buying newspapers. After a 2-week trial with your most famous rival, I quite quickly discovered that the Guardian and Observer were my natural home. The Guardian was to begin with an occasional indulgence, but the Observer was delivered to my student house, and when my family moved to Britain I informed my mother that if she was to have a daily paper delivered, it must be the Guardian.

I still feel that describing my age, sex, race, culture, occupation or political party says less about who I am than the words “Guardian reader”, now “Guardian member”.
Meher Oliaji, 62, London, UK

As a 15-year-old schoolboy in Ramsgate, I joined the Labour party on that birthday in 1950, and hearing from a cousin in Newcastle congratulating me on joining, then added that I should subscribe to the Manchester Guardian if I wanted a sensible newspaper that would enlarge my grasp on politics.

The only snag was that the newspaper distributor in Ramsgate was an Eddie Butchers who had never distributed a Manchester Guardian before – owing to the fact it would always arrive a day after printing.

Not deterred, I spent much of my pocket money having the newspaper sent to Ramsgate. From then on, it has been the regular paper of my choice for over 71 years.
The Rt Honourable Lord Thomas Pendry

I always want to be a journalist, and I always love to read newspapers since my childhood. I discovered the Guardian when I was researching the most famous newspapers in the world. I couldn’t read at that time because I didn’t have access. Now thanks to my university, I can follow the Guardian every day. I love reading about the news that contains women’s rights. I hope one day I can write for the Guardian.
Aleyna Akın, 19, Ankara, Turkey

I stopped voting Tory after the Miner’s Strike in 1972 but was still reading the Telegraph. Commuting to Waterloo in 1973 I sat next to someone reading The Guardian. An article in his paper caught my eye and I decided to buy The Guardian to read the article fully. On my way home I started reading The Guardian editorials and leaders – now I had come home and have been reading The Guardian ever since.
Huw Roberts, 75, West Sussex, UK

I grew up in Bolton, Lancashire, in the late 1960s.
I was a regular paper boy. During Bolton holidays all the newsagents closed down for the fortnight. So paper boys like myself would sell morning papers from street corners. In mycase the corner of Somerset Avenue and Chorley New Road.
Wholesalers would drop off papers early in the morning and when we had finished we would take any unsold papers on the bus to somewhere in town.
I remember that we were allowed to take a paper home if we wanted to. My Dad, a lifelong Daily Mail reader, was horrified when I started bringing home copies of the Guardian. I found it quickly became essential reading for maintaining a grip on reality.I still read the Guardian every day half a century later!
Andrew Butterworth, 65, Portsmouth, UK

I attended Burnley High school for Girls, 1954-62, to our glee, Burnley then built a Grammar school for boys nearby. There were some joint 6th form events, great chance to mingle! and one day it was a talk from the then editor of The Times. My mate Phil asked the cheeky question “ I don’t read The Times….is there something wrong with me….or The Times!?” He had a very frosty response to which he responded “ well I’ll stick with the Manchester Guardian then” lots of us cheered, and I was reprimanded by our prim headmistress for joining in!I’ve read and supported the Guardian ever since
Judith Stamper, 77, Kent, UK

I first started ‘reading’ the Guardian as a preschooler back in 1963 when I wanted to know what the words said! If I could get hold of a pencil I would write over the headlines as well!
The one time I managed to impress my English teacher when studying for my O levels was when after studying a letter from a newspaper I asked if it came from the Guardian – it had. My teacher wanted to know why I had asked and I told her it just read like a letter from the Guardian so I was obviously a reader back in the mid 70s.

My parents had the Guardian delivered every day. My Dad started reading it as a 16 year old back in 1944 when one of his workmates told him that if he was going to repeat opinions from a newspaper he should start reading a paper whose opinions were worth repeating. As a school girl my Mum was told to look out for men who read quality newspapers so when Dad turned up on one of their first dates with a copy of the Guardian in his pocket she remembered her teacher and reckoned the relationship was worth pursuing!

As I now have a subscription I even have the paper delivered if we are out of the country and come home to a stack of papers to catch up on!

Keep up the good work
Jan Hulme, 62, Cornwall, UK

I have my crazy, completely nonsensical Nigerian born and bred mother to thank for introducing me to the notion of a balanced perspective and the Guardian, via The News of the World and the Observer!

Growing up as a 13-year-old in 1982 on a council estate attending a girl’s private school, I learnt perspective and maybe my own form of objective balance reading The News of the World and the Observer as a start. Two very different papers for sure, that began my daily paper journey (The Independent and The Times), eventually paving my way to the Guardian newspaper, sporadically at first in 2008 but more earnestly through the ‘The Guardian’ App on my smartphone in 2013.

A great paper, broad spectrum of top-notch journalists, satirist, and commentators raising thought provoking ideas and issues from across the political divide. I love the fact that I don’t agree with them all of the time – some, most of the time. Best bit is that they make me think. And do so, differently. I think they (and thank you mum) help me see better and analyse with difference.
Bola Rotibi, 51, West Sussex, UK

I never really had a moment of discovery with The Guardian, it was something that was always around me whilst growing up. My parents had it delivered daily with the Observer on Sunday’s. It was not until sometime in the 80’s that I heard from my Danish mother that the origin of the daily tradition had started with my Polish father, soon after arriving in the UK in 1947. He’d wanted to work on his English and had chosen The Manchester Guardian as one of his means of doing so. What remained unsaid, until I heard some of the old Poles of his generation in the 00’s ridiculing his choice of newspaper, was that actually he was a liberal, broad-minded individual and therefore the paper suited him on more than one level. My mother loved to read the articles and comment on them with me, she did not always agree with everything, but always praised the quality of the language and journalism. I used information garnered from the pages to debate in high school and after 18 years abroad I rediscovered the Guardian when I cared for my very elderly parents. I brought with me my youngest, a Mexican and yet another foreigner. My father began to guide her with English helped by yes, you’ve guessed it, The Guardian! The technique must be a good one since she graduated with a master’s in lockdown. My parents the instigators are long gone, but we are into the 3rd generation of Guardian readers and we read it most days, all be it online.

Will there be a 4th generation? I hope so.
Gillian Lasocki, 58, Birmingham, UK

Throughout a miserable period of family upheaval and our move to a grim estate on the outskirts of a Midlands town, my mother’s Guardian subscription was a daily escape and antidote. The Guardian’s reporting informed my political and ethical development in a parenting vacuum, and when I escaped to university, I could trace my love of socioeconomic and political analysis directly back to The Guardian. For all the subsequent years I lived in North America I read The Guardian online, so returning late last year was not a shock, but it has been a disappointment. Political pantomime for lulz and votes should have died a final death with the pandemic, but instead The Guardian is too often a lone voice speaking truth to power as panem et circenses intensify the closer we shuffle to the cliff. I am grateful to be looking South from the relative sanity of Scotland, and I still read The Guardian every day.
Katherine, 55, Lothian, Scotland

I initially came to the Guardian for its football coverage. I always love to read what other people, especially non-Germans, have to say about my team, Bayern Munich.

But I quickly discovered there was great coverage of far more important things, such as Brexit, which is something I still struggle to understand. Trump’s presidency was another subject I read about avidly. I simply needed hope and reassurance that not all is lost in these dark days, and the Guardian provides that.
Stefan Igl, 56, Munich, Germany

I had read the Guardian and the Observer while in the UK but in the mid-80s I was a student at Oslo University. No TV, no internet, but there was always the BBC World Service. My treat on Sunday afternoons was to take the Trikken (tram) from the student residence at Kringsjå to Majorstuen station where by about 4pm a few copies of the Observer usually appeared at the news kiosk on the platform. I think the Observer cost about 30 kroner (£3) at the time – a lot to pay for a paper – and all the more reason to devour it from front cover to back. Best of all, Julian Barnes’s review of the week’s TV – I didn’t have a TV and hadn’t seen any of the shows he wrote about but he wrote (and lampooned) beautifully. Great writing throughout but his column stood out.
Nick Morgan, 59, from the UK, transplanted to Oslo, meandered via Hong Kong, Rome, Singapore. Now in Bristol.

March 1975, I was sent to work in Kuala Lumpur with a one year contract to design bridges. One day I saw a Guardian Weekly lying on a colleague’s desk, I picked it up at lunchtime and scanned it. Somewhat unusual for me, being rather rightwing, but I found it interesting, so a subscription soon whizzed off to Manchester. Today, 45 years later, I am still in south-east Asia, and still read the Guardian.
Colin Snow, 58, Bangkok, Thailand

I first came across the Guardian in the summer of 1967. I had just
left school in Germany, I wanted to study English, so I was an au pair
for three months with a family in Ealing to practise English. I was
lucky: the parents were not only musicians , they were intellectuals. They kept several daily
newspapers, the Guardian was among them, and weekly ones as well. Ever
since I have visited England at least once a year (except for 2020:
the virus) and as I liked the Guardian I always bought the paper
version when I was there. At present I am paying for two subscriptions:
good journalism must be supported, and the Guardian is worth it.
Annette Heinbokel, 73, Bremen, Germany

My father read all the papers except the Guardian. In 1969 I was signed up to the Times by my school, which paid for student subscriptions to place in the library. I then continued reading the Times as a university student in Edinburgh, Bristol and London and might have continued to do so but for the events of 1978, when the Times went on strike! At the time I was a postgrad in Manchester and looked around for another paper. That was when I discovered the Guardian, which I have been reading for the last 40 years.
Josepha Murray, 67, Surrey, UK

I first began reading the Guardian when I was 15 or 16 in Coventry where I grew up. Throughout my time at college in Glasgow, the day began with a trip to the newsagent in the train station to pick up my copy of the Guardian for the morning and evening commute. In Cardiff during graduate studies, an hour in morning was spent with the Guardian in the university library (I was too cheap to buy my own copy!). When I moved to Canada in 1987, I realised how awful the papers in North America were. Anyone who visits me from the UK is instructed to bring back the Guardian, and especially the Saturday Guardian with all bits intact.

It had been a challenge in Canada with only the Guardian weekly edition print version available by subscription. So when the online version was launched, it was a godsend. My mornings still start with the Guardian. The paper has been an integral part of my life for 45 years (but I still struggle with the Quick crossword).
Balwantray Chauhan, 61, Nova Scotia, Canada

I started reading The Guardian because I had serious doubts about the press in my country. I had read The New York Times and The Washington Post for some time, but I didn’t feel comfortable with them, especially when they started their signing-in policies.

I remember I was surprised by your online site look-and-feel, it was so fresh and clean and readable. As I continued to read, I was amazed not only by the quality of the information but also by your sense of humor and your sense of community and responsibility. I couldn’t believe that such a wonderful site was open to the public, and that you were so careful with your advertising; I am very grateful for your free site, because at the time I couldn’t afford a subscription. I need to express my gratitude to you, for the way you kept us informed with the latest developments about Covid. Because of you, I started taking precautions earlier (the local press and government are perpetually lagging), and I was able to advise my family and friends, I can’t help but thinking that you kept my family safe, with your work.

Please, stay safe. Please, don’t give up. Please, go on speaking for those who can’t.
Haydeé, Ciudad de México, México

I took out a digital subscription to the Guardian in July 2020. Had been a regular reader online for a few years and having enjoyed all those brilliantly written pieces from the likes of Owen Jones, John Crace, Marina Hyde just to name a few of your fantastic journalists I felt I should support the Guardian even though I didn’t have to as anyone can view your articles for free.

Most of the other papers are behind a pay wall, I think it’s great that the Guardian isn’t and only asks for what people can afford if they can’t afford the premium subscription. For me £11.99 per month is tremendous value for money
Luke Morrison, 36, Essex, UK

I first learned of the existence of the Guardian during a staging of the play The Lover by Harold Pinter in 1998 in which I played the part of Sarah. I told myself: “If a great author like Pinter has his protagonist read the Guardian surely it must be a super newspaper!!!” Later, I was in a production at the Edinburgh fringe, and as my English began to improve I decided to start reading the Guardian on a daily basis.

Today, the Guardian is my favourite newspaper and the first one I read every morning. I like the way you deal with world issues, always seeking truth, justice and a global vision in which I very much reflect myself. I like the great importance you give to fact-based and in-depth analyses, as well as the possibility to read news from all over the planet.
Livia Carli, 58, Imperia, Italy

I am an 80 year old New Zealander. I’ve been a reader of Guardian publications now, principally The Guardian Weekly since I was 20. Over the past 60 years as a Guardian reader I have lived and worked in a host of countries in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia with side trips to India and China. I have come to rely on your excellent standard of journalism to keep me informed and in touch with the world.
John McKinnon, 80, Lower Hutt, New Zealand

I started reading The Manchester Guardian when I was a young child in the sixties, living in Withington, Manchester. We had the paper delivered. It was my father who read it most and I think he was mainly drawn to it because it was edited and published in Manchester, but later when we moved to Pontefract in Yorkshire, we continued to receive the Guardian. I read it now – mostly on my phone whilst drinking my two mugs of tea first thing in the morning.

Thank you for being there.
Helen Hawley, 65, Hove, UK

As a 16-year-old school leaver in 1954, living in a town eight miles east of Manchester, I embarked on a journey to my first job in Manchester. Joining me on the train was a colleague from school – also on his first day in the city. He was joining the Manchester Guardian.

We agreed to meet up on the returning train and exchanged our experiences of the day, whereupon he handed me a copy of that day’s early edition of the paper. He said it was mine to keep as he somewhat gloatingly said he would produce one for me every day as he was now “staff! (He had spent the day running errands and making tea!) That was my introduction to 67 years of readership.
Geoff Kirkham, 83, Suffolk

When I first started dating my wife, I noticed piles of copies of the Guardian on the floor of her apartment. I was delighted to realise we had something important to break the ice; the conversation flowed.

Three years later I plucked up my courage to ask Rosemary if she would marry me, and was delighted, though somewhat deflated, to hear: “Well, YES Julian, I’ve been hoping you would ask me for at least a year!” Soon we reduced the piles by subscribing to the Weekly and loved it from the start.

All being well, J’n’R will celebrate in August 50 wonderful years of Guardian reading.
Julian Burn

When, post WWII, I was posted to the Middle East for national service, I was delighted to still get my usual paper, the News Chronicle, flown out each day for a nominal sum.

However, soon after my demob in 1956 it was suddenly bought by the Daily Mail. The civil service had posted me to Edinburgh where the accepted morning newspaper was the Scotsman, but I wanted more UK and world news.

An English colleague suggested I try the Manchester Guardian, which I’d barely heard of, but I quickly came to see it shared my values, and I have been a daily subscriber ever since (65 years!).
Donald Brown, 85, Devon, UK

It was the late 60s. Every Sunday during term time a small group of us would take the bus into Bristol, to a small coffee bar with a jukebox.

We would buy the latest Italian coffee and settle down at a corner table with our packet of Disque Bleu cigarettes, a collection of six penny pieces for the jukebox and a copy of the Guardian which we had pinched from the masters’ common room during the week.

With the heady smell of fresh ground coffee, French cigarette smoke and the Animals growling out the House of the Rising Sun, we would discuss the world and the mess it was in and how we would change it. Taking our cues from the Guardian gave us a sense of agency.
Chris Alexander, 71, Cumbria, UK

When I was growing up in the 50s, my mother wanted me to get into the habit of reading the newspaper; I resisted on the grounds of her usual newspapers looking too difficult and boring. One day, she brought the Guardian home. It immediately looked more interesting with a big heavy masthead and a more modern-looking typeface, as well as more pictures. I was hooked.

My mother went on reading the Guardian daily, on paper, from then until her death, at nearly 95, last year.
Sue Shutter, 70, London, UK

In 1976, when I was 16, I had an English teacher who asked me to go out to the local shop and buy him the Guardian. At home my parents bought broadsheet newspapers and I was used to reading them, but living in rural Ireland I never had access or any reason to read an English newspaper. I delayed my return to class to browse this “foreign” paper, got lost in it and was so late back the class had ended; I had to find the teacher to deliver the paper. When I explained I was late because I was reading an article and could discuss it, he started giving me his day-old paper. I have been reading it in hard or soft copy ever since. Thank you, Mr McGrath, for the introduction.
Pat Lambe, 61, Dublin, Ireland

I was doing a practical training as a librarian in 1996. And I spent three wonderful months in several libraries in Glasgow. I shared a flat with three men who introduced me to Red Stripe beer, awful techno music, Tony Blair, topless darts (don’t ask!) and the Guardian. Ian my flatmate read the Guardian and gave it to me afterwards. When I came back to Germany I switched to the website. It’s a habit to check the site each day and I enjoy it.

I still fondly remember my summer in Glasgow: Kelvingrove Park, Mitchell Library, the lovely cinema in Ashton Lane and reading the Guardian.
Kathrin Brümmer, 44, Lübeck, Germany

The Guardian has been the paper that starts my household’s day for decades; I really can’t remember how many. But my family’s connection with The Guardian is broader than just with the paper. I am grateful for the journalism but also for the feminism of CP Scott. He had a hand in shaping more than a newspaper – He was instrumental in the founding of a school in Manchester in 1890 that offered the same educational opportunities for daughters as was already available to sons. One of my children attended 100 years later and certainly had an education that matched that offered to any son. The school thrives, as does The Guardian’s journalism. Happy birthday.
Wendy Law, Altrincham, Manchester, UK

In 2008, during the summer holidays, my father had whisked me away to Greece for a week. I was sitting next to him in the back of a bus, though I don’t recall what we were doing in said bus. He was reading the Guardian, and he was right chuffed he’d managed to get hold of it abroad.
I’d always seen the Guardian, dad’s companion for his rail commutes, lying around at home — but I’d never had an interest in reading it for myself. This time, however, he was chuckling as the bus trundled down the Greek road, which piqued my attention. “What could be so funny in a businessman’s newspaper?” I thought.
It was Charlie Brooker’s speculation of how London might, in 2012, one-up China’s then-recent Olympics opening ceremony. I’d recognised his picture in the byline as being that shouty man, on at night on BBC4, whom my mother didn’t want me watching. And I loved the piece. Who knew you could find comedy in a newspaper? 12-year-old me was astounded — even more so when I was informed that Brooker actually had a weekly column, which I started reading whenever I could.
Ultimately, that was my “gateway drug” into the Guardian as a whole, which helped kindle my interest in social issues during those formative adolescent years. Thanks, Big G.
Kaitlyn Lynam, 25, Glasgow, Scotland

It was 1957. I had passed my A-levels with flying colours and had still no idea what future awaited me. One of my parents heard of a series of career advertisements in the Manchester Guardian. After a few years in the service of a computer manufacturer during which my life had many agreeable features including a daily battle with the Guardian crossword, I took the step of continuing my career abroad. In no time my father kindly arranged a gift subscription to the Guardian Weekly and this arrived regularly in my letterbox in the Netherlands for many years. Then came the world of PCs and the internet, so my Guardian underwent a further transition to the online version which is the current phase in more then 60 years of intelligent, responsible and above all inspiring material.
Phil Claydon, 80, Dordrecht, Netherlands

In 1980 when I was at school, my teacher recommended I take the Guardian on a Thursday for the science pages. I bought it and was hooked from then on. The Guardian has remained my constant companion (and along with my guitar my longest friend) ever since, being by my side through Uni, various cities in the UK, online in France where I joined CIF as it started up (different name to current one) and now as a supporter in New Zealand. I’ve appeared a few times in your pages – my proudest moment being Simon Hoggart recommending a book I’d written and sent to him.
Ian Andrews, 57, Wairarapa, New Zealand

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