Much more than the story of one of the greatest, most chaotic scoops of them all – this is a glorious, unabashed evocation of a world that is gone.ITV’s Brough Scott.
Just 31 when he delivered the finest scoop of his career, Colin Mackenzie had already interviewed some of the world’s most important and fascinating figures. He had grilled Margaret Thatcher, Richard Nixon, President Nicolae Ceausescu, actors Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, the Led Zeppelin band and many more.
His location of Ronnie Biggs and his lotus-eating existence in far off Rio de Janeiro was recently nominated as one of the best ten scoops of the 20th century by the UK Press Gazette, Fleet Street’s trade magazine. This one story elevated the Daily Express circulation above the critical four million mark in 1974. In the pre digital world described in detail in this fascinating account, this was no easy accomplishment.
Mackenzie lovingly recreates for the reader a clubbable Fleet Street which, sadly, no longer exists as newspapers, battling for survival in a computerised world, have moved offices to the outer boroughs of London. “The Street of Shame” as Private Eye characterised the newspaper world of the Sixties and Seventies, is no more. Today, politicians, top sports stars, and celebrities, employ teams of public relations and protection employees to ward off the attention of journalists. In 1964, Mackenzie got through to former Prime Minister Harold MacMillan with one phone call.
Throughout his career, Mackenzie entertained a love of the Sport of Kings, owning small shares in racehorses that challenged his financial resources and yet provided adrenalin pumping excitement. In 1985 he was invited to be a founder reporter on the Racing Post, a new racing daily. From there he rejoined the Daily Mail to become, after 20 years, the doyen of racing correspondents. In this role he rubbed shoulders with the Queen, the Queen Mother, Princess Anne, the Aga Khan and Sir Alex Ferguson.
David Yates (of the Daily Mirror). “Colin is a fantastic journalist who got fantastic stories. His book is a real page turner. His Fallon story (following the Old Bailey trial in 2007) was an amazing piece of work which Colin is very modest about.”
Mike Cattermole (sportinglife.com website) “Colin Mackenzie used Lockdown very productively to pen his entertaining memoirs “Pressing My Luck”. Colin’s recall of events is quite extraordinary even when unearthing a titbit about Prince Charles’s “O” level results. There are plenty of juicy tales from the Turf from a well connected man. Well worth considering as a Christmas gift for a racing man.”
Henry Ponsonby (racing manager) – “The memoirs of one of the last original Fleet Street journalists – a very racy read about the end of an era when journalists had to work hard with no cheating from social media.”
Marcus Armytage (The Daily Telegraph) – “Mackenzie’s (memoirs) are up there with the best not least because they are well written in an easy style and well edited (not always a given) and, always a bonus, the book is not just about racing.” – “Sub titled the Memoir of a Fleet Street veteran, if nothing else Mackenzie’s book should be part of the syllabus for would-be journalists, sport or otherwise.”
Lorraine Kelly (The Sun) “As a former inky-fingered hack I’m greatly enjoying Pressing My Luck, Memoir of a Fleet Street veteran. The book, out now, is by legendary journalist Colin Mackenzie who tracked down Ronnie Biggs in a story voted one of the top ten of all time. It is jam-packed with colourful anecdotes conjuring up an exciting, sweaty Fleeet Street that, sadly, no longer exists. For years Colin, a lover of horse-racing, rubbed shoulders with the Queen and Queen Mother and got to know them in a way most never could and it’s a fascinating insight.”
Cornelius Lysaught (Racing Correspondent) “Looks like it’s going to be a long, dark Covid winter so plenty of time for reading; just finished Colin Mackenzie’s terrific memoir Pressing My Luck; a great read about life and exclusives in the glory days of Fleet Street, both racing and non-racing.”
Emily Horan (Hello Magazine) “Fleet Street Veteran Colin Mackenzie has written a riveting memoir of his 44 years in journalism covering everything from interviewing Margaret Thatcher, Elizabeth Taylor and former US President Richard, to-when he was a racing correspondent- rubbing shoulders with the Queen and the Queen Mother.”
Olly Smith (TV presenter and host of The Media Lunch Club) ” I warmly recommend this book to you all!”
Piers Morgan (Host of “Good Morning Britain”) “Fleet St Legend Colin Mackenzie, the reporter who found Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, has written a very entertaining memoir about his life in journalism. Fascinating and funny, with some great stories. Highly recommend.”
Roger Alton (Daily Mail) “What shines through is Mackenzie’s love of horses, racing and racing people. And he hasn’t done too badly either as an owner: he’s had 71 winners. Journalists’ memoirs are rarely War And Peace, but this is a tremendous story of a life enjoyed, a race well run, often hilarious, always engaging. Well, several races in fact, with hopefully a nice touch at the bookie’s afterwards. Do enjoy.”
Peter Thomas (The Racing Post) – “Fleet Street has gone and with it the boozy, incorrigible days of a memorable era in British journalism. But the stories won’t be going away any time soon and Mackenzie has plenty of them…it’s a crystallisation of a bygone age of cultural history – but it’s also great fun.”
Mark Dolan (Talk Radio) “Best copy you have ever filed. Well done Colin!”
As a New York correspondent for The Daily Express in 1973 I went on tour with Led Zeppelin. I can be seen in the film The Song Remains The Same, about to get on their private jet with them. I’m the only man wearing a tie amongst all the hippy rockers. I fear this assignment…