Since signing up to something called Blogpatrol, which supplies a free counter, and becoming aware of the ‘stats’ facility offered here, I’ve kept, for no very good reason, really, a keen eye on what visitors are actually looking at. Someone or other, probably the author himself or another chap who insists he has more or less been plagiarised by that author, keeps on eye on the entry about Jesus The Terrorist. And thinking I had spotted a literal, I went over the list of previous entries to track it down. What struck me was that, in the past (i.e. last year) I was far more prolific. At first I felt rather guilty (although I’m not sure exactly why I should), but then I realised that were I to blether on at greater length and more frequently, the result would probably be entries which were far more contrived, far more artificial and generally pointless.
Incidentally, the first book is interesting, although the publisher did his author no favour in his editing. The second might well be interesting and might well cover new ground, but unfortunately is utterly, utterly unreadable.
. . .
I hear Andrew Marr, by now firmly part of the Establishment despite his undoubtedly impeccable left-of-centre credentials, has labelled bloggers ‘inadequate, pimpled and single’. You can read the Guardian’s account of the great man’s outburst here, or if you prefer the Telegraph’s account try here. It took place – where else – at the Cheltenham Literary Festival which, it’s fair to say, has joined Glyndebourne and other occasions on the social calendar of
those members of the Establishment who are cultured or like to think they are cultured. Marr (pictured - spot the ears) is part of a small group – all part of the Establishment – who I find rather irritating. Others in that group are Stephen ‘He’s So Intelligent’ Fry, Jeremy Vine, who has gone horribly native since he started his Radio 2 show, Polly Toynbee and Tony Blair. I must concede that every man and woman of ambition who regards him or herself as ‘left-wing’ or at least ‘left-of-centre will always face a difficult problem. None of the above who will insist they are 'of the left' is, I’m sure, short of a penny or two, and will most certainly have bought a weekend retreat somewhere or other in. Nothing wrong with that, of course, except when they insist that the Left is on the side of the ‘working man’. Just how they square their ownership of more than one property while claiming, tacitly or openly, to be in favour of the eventual establishment of socialism is beyond me. But then Blair, Diane Abbot, Sally Keeble (who I once briefly went out with) and various others on the Left sent a child or two to a private school while managing to oppose others doing so with more or less a straight face. Marr's comments on 'bloggers' are very odd, particularly as all and sundry of the BBC's correspondents write a blog (more or less hourly in the case of one of its political correspondents, Nick Robinson), and Marr's spiritual home, The Guardian, also carries any number of blogs by any number of thinkers. So who is he referring to? Marr is, of course, the man who takes out injunctions against any newspapers who threaten to report on his public life, even taking advantage of so-called 'super-injunctions' - an injunction which prevents the media even reporting that an injunction has been taken out. You can read further details here in an account by the former Private Eye editor and one of the magazine's co-founders, Richard Ingrams. Marr's stance on the freedom of the Press would seem to be rather confused. I understand that the injunction was taken out to prevent the Press reporting that he, too, belongs to that gaggle of Labour and Left-wing worthies who have decided to have their children educated privately although the denounce the practice vehemently in others.
. . .
I once had a brief run-in with Marr. It was when I was, for around 14 months, a fully-paid up member of the Conservative Party. In October 1970-something of other, it was holding its annual party conference in Blackpool, and I decided to go, although attending a party conference and visiting Blackpool (above) – which every Brit should do at least once, although having done so once, the experience should ensure they will decide never to do so again – was more important than attending the conference because it was Tory. To be honest, I regarded the conference as something of a short break. (American readers should think of Blackpool as a kind of downmarket Coney Island.)
There were, as there are at all these party, many sideshows, all of which attempt to garner an audience by supplying food of some kind and red wine. So in the interest of being fed and having a drink of five at someone else’s expense, I attended seminars and meetings on all manner of arcane political matters, ranging from The Future Of The Countryside, Education In The Modern Age and Why Local Government Is A Mess to a very lively meeting organised by Tory party members who were undoubtedly Ulster unionist fellow travellers. I can proudly assure my reader that on four days I did not spend a penny on either food or drink and never once went hungry.
On the Wednesday night, the night before the Leader’s
Speech (the leader at the time, by the way, was Iain Duncan Smith (pictured), so if you really want to know what year it was – there’s your clue), everyone gathered at, I think it is called, the Excelsior, where the VIPs were staying. After attending yet another meeting about something or other – and again enjoying another generous spread of various canipes and unlimited red wine – I adjourned to the hotel foyer, more or less just to enjoy the ambience. (Some spell it ‘ambiance’, so take your pick.) There I fell into conversation with a chap from Solihull, a small businessman – small in both sense of the word – who was already well-gone on his favourite tipple when I came across him. While we were chatting about this and that, I
spotted Andrew Marr deep in conversation with The World At One’s Martha Kearney (pictured), although at the time she was still working for Newsnight, and another Newsnight producer/reporter called David Grossman. Would my new friend like to meet Andrew Marr, I asked him. He most certainly would, he told me, so both of us picked up our glasses and stood with the group, my friend swaying rather a great deal. Although I wasn’t half as drunk as he was, I was certainly not sober. Marr (who is, incidentally, rather shorter than I thought he might be, shorter than I am certainly) held forth about something or other, and I do remember he did all the talking. At first he ignored us, but after a while, obviously irritated by these two silent stooges at his shoulder he turned to us and announced: ‘Do you mind, we’re trying to have a private conversation.’ I told him that my friend would very much like to meet him, but that cut no ice and after being ignored by him for a few more minutes a retreated, pulling my new friend with me. Not much of an encounter, you’ll admit, but I was glad to see that Martha Kearney and her colleague were rather amused. I cannot say for certain, but I sensed they had more of a sense of humour than Mr Marr. Oh, and his ears are just as big in real life as they are on screen.
. . .
I feel you need an explanation as to why I became a card-carrying Tory for just over a year, much to the astonishment, it is only fair to add, of various friends and collagues. I shall supply one at some point. By way of a trailer: I even managed to get myself onto the Conservative Party list of approved Parliamentary candidates. But, in fairness, I should add that I never felt I was 'a Tory'. Not then, not now, and, I should think, not ever. Ever-so-slightly right-of-centre, but not 'a Tory'.