Why you should never accept a drink, a cigarette and sandwich

Why you should never accept a drink, a cigarette and sandwich

Veteran journalist and arts aficionado Len Ashton celebrates 15 years as Noseweek’s books editor. Sue Segar chats to him about his long career in newspapers and lessons he’s learnt on the job.

Trying to sum up his career, Len Ashton muses: “I’ve met extraordinary people and done some extraordinary things – a long way from Klerksdorp”. That’s where Ashton grew up, having been born en route to the dusty mining town while his parents were in the throes of moving their family there.

He and his seven siblings were born to an English mother and Irish father. His maternal great-grandfather had come to South Africa with the Coldstream Guards during the Anglo-Boer War. Ashton’s father ran shops and then worked in the mines “Ours was a very Irish family, of painters and writers – a lot of us – and part of our energy came from a determination to get the hell out of Klerksdorp!”

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