Tue | May 11, 2021

Thanks for the life lessons, Ken

Published:Wednesday | January 27, 2021 | 4:18 AM


I have fond memories of Ken Allen when he was The Gleaner’s opinion editor at the turn of the century. He was a man of candour and wit. But more important, he sought to make you a better person.

Not everyone could appreciate his directness, especially when he conducted reviews of The Gleaner daily.

I remember, when I was a subeditor, watching as journalists sidled over to the notorious column on which the post-mortem was posted – often a pithy, merciless dismantling of stories. Gods were demoted to mortals. Invariably, they walked away fuming at this miserable old man.

Ken Allen called you out. His analysis earned more boos than bouquets. But you had the choice of learning to survive the rhetorical bloodletting or retreat in defeat, swollen with your own self-importance. I chose the former.

The sage baulked at errors – and you were gutted when something slipped through.

I remember well when Director of Public Prosecutions Kent Pantry walked into the newsroom on the day when the printer’s devil dressed him down and performed surgery. There he was – Jamaica’s chief prosecutor published as Kent PANTY.

Never had I longed more for the letter ‘r’. I begged for a hole to swallow me as I feared the bellow of rage. As I learnt later, Mr Panty, er, Pantry was making a visit unrelated to the mangling of his name.

Ken Allen made you feel accountable – even when he wasn’t looking over your shoulder.

Thanks for the life lessons, Ken. Walk good.