Tuesday, September 20, 2005

L. J. K. Setright.

I came across his obituary in my newspaper yesterday. Leonard John Kensell Setright was born in London on 10th August 1931 and died in London on 7th September 2005.

I remember reading his articles over the years in many car and motorcycles magazines. He also wrote for the Independent newspaper. He seemed to have been around for years and I always enjoyed his writing. It was always different to other journalists and the quality of his writing was always higher than his peers. He seemed like a wise old wizard giving advice from the top of a mountain. His script was always knowledgable yet entertaining at the same time. He would stand aside from the crowd and offer alternative views, giving the reader something to think about that other journalists had probally not touched upon. He combined a unique writing style with a technical knowledge that led the reader to understand the engineering principles involved. I feel as though I grew up with him like an older brother I never had. When the world of automotive engineering advanced he was my guide to understanding the way things were developing. He outlined trends as they developed and put things into perspective. I shall miss his articles now that he has left this earth but his writing has left as big an impression on me as did his own father. His father was best known as the inventor of the Setright ticket machine, widely used on British buses. I remember using these ticket machines in my earlier working life, they were very well built and reliable. I never had a problem with one and they were elderly when I got to use them on a daily basis. They seemed a masterpiece of precision engineering to me and seemed to work like magic with their audit register - you never knew what management had set the audit register to record.

Journalism has lost a great writer and I cannot think of another automotive journalist to replace him at the top. The only journalist I read regularly of his calibre today is the Indepedent Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk. Hopefully, terrorism and war permitting, Robert Fisk can continue to write his quality reports, although he is in his mature years.
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