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By Alan Wheatley

Alan Wheatley cartoon

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Eric ShackleEric Shackle is one of those indomitable journalists of the old school; one whose search for interesting stories takes him to all corners of the globe, and one who seems to be undeterred—in fact, spurred on—by the minutiae involved in news-gathering. Eric began writing for Bonzer! in Issue 29—Jan/Feb 2004—and has subsequently been a regular columnist.

Eric says he's been a compulsive writer since the age of 11, and as he'll be 87 this month, that means he's churned out millions of words—'good, bad, but mostly indifferent'—for 76 years.

His first published work was a sci-fi story published on the Sydney Sunday Sun's children's page, for which he was awarded a Blue Certificate. His latest work is in this issue of Bonzer! (which pays him even less).

Apart from that, he has written for the New York Times, the London Observer, the Straits Times (Singapore), and the Sydney Morning Herald. On the flip side, he has also written for such august publications as America's Chewing Gum News and Cleanaway's (Sydney) house journal.

Born in England, he migrated Downunder with his parents and sister in 1929. The voyage in the steamship Demosthenes, which called at the Canary Isles, Cape Town and Albany, Western Australia, to take on coal, took six weeks. Arriving in Sydney, the ship passed between the still unjoined ends of the Harbour Bridge.

Eric attended schools in England, Australia and New Zealand, and has worked as a journalist on The Press (Christchurch, NZ), The Courier-Mail (Brisbane), and in Sydney on the Daily Telegraph, Truth, the Daily Mirror, and 'a dreadful rag called Weekend, edited (incredibly) by a young Donald Horne, who later achieved fame as a literary figure, historian and philosopher, and author of The Lucky Country.'

In World War II, he was a member of 1 Field Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers, and spent 18 months in New Guinea, including several months as a staff-sergeant with the Army newspaper, Guinea Gold, in Lae.

After the war, he married Jerry Germaine, another former staff-sergeant (in the Australian Women's Army Service), who had been attached to US General Douglas MacArthur's personal office staff in Brisbane. They lived in Sydney, and raised four sons, who have now produced seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

These days, Eric lives on the NSW Central Coast. He is author of 'Life Begins at 80. . . on the Internet,' a monthly e-book aimed at encouraging the world's over-50s to ride with him on 'the magic carpet of the Internet.' He also writes a regular column for senior citizen webzines in US, Canada, UK, South Africa and Australia, and is copy editor of Anu Garg's Seattle-based A Word A Day free newsletter, which is e-mailed five days a week to more than 600,000 wordlovers in 200 countries.

Eric's e-book              BONZER!