Me and my Guardian: ‘When I first met my wife, our shared love of the paper broke the ice’

·12 min read
<span>Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Linda Nylind/The Guardian

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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