Thursday, April 16, 2009

When I was a member of my university's Labour Club, a few other members of that august institution tried to pass a motion of censure on me, for being close friends, nay housemates, with a known Tory. Even then, in the first flush of idealism, it seemed absurd to let political allegiance decide friendships, especially as my political allies were such a dull bunch socially. Now it seems even more mad, but still it goes on. "How can you talk to him? He's a Conservative." Because he's fun and interesting, now piss off.

In the fun and interesting camp is a chap called Iain Dale, whom I came to know when he was running a bookshop in London called Politico's. We disagreed pretty vehemently on just about every single thing politically, but we both had a thing for the Eurovision Song Contest and he was/is the owner of a very smart little dog, which beat politics in a game of scissors/paper/stone any day of the week. I visit his blog, still disagreeing with him pretty vehemently on any subject other than the Herreys and aniseed treats, but doing so from a position of warmth and respect.

Iain's been onto the Damian McBride thing for a while now. Indeed, he was on the 'to be smeared' list himself. With Dolly Draper denying the existence of the incriminating emails, Iain was going to file a Freedom of Information request. With the whole story now public and Iain proved right, the FoI request turned out to be unnecessary, and Iain's been making the most of his vindication, writing articles here, there and everywhere (I would say left, right and centre, but...) and appearing on almost every channel and managing to stay just this side of a gloat.

Now, following some more digging into the way LabourList - the 'e-network' run by Dolly - is funded (or not, as the case may be), Iain's had to contend with 40 calls on his private phone, some of them threatening, and emails like this, apparently promising to blow Dale's blog off the face of the Internet with denial of service attacks. The way Dale has been treated for getting too close to some uncomfortable truths is nothing short of a disgrace. If Iain's blog is DOS-ed offline, however temporarily, this will be why.

EDIT - 27/5/2010 - A follow-up post to this one appears here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Many thanks to all of those who contacted me with notes and queries about Turned Out Nice Again to be borne in mind for the paperback edition. The corrections were finally, belatedly sent off this morning. The delay came partly from the fact that I was waiting on educated responses from a couple of respected individuals, and partly from the fact that there is precious little more boring than reading your own words for the fourth or fifth time. When I read a book by someone else, I might read it through twice, and then keep it for reference/dipping. When you're checking something for corrections, however, dipping and skimming aren't options. Comparing notes with a fellow author and close friend, he admitted to glazing over on the first read-through, but I think he was being self-deprecating. Don't get me wrong, I'm immensely proud of the book and the re-reading merely fortified that pride. However, I know the ending already.

Ah, endings. Had the timorous BBC not forced the last two editions of Stewart Lee's Comedy Vehicle to swap places, the show originally scheduled for Easter Monday being about religion, the show would have had the best closer of any TV show for some years in the form of the riotous apple shop sketch, which culminated in the superb Paul Putner - representing the holy trinity of Ronnie Barker, Harry Worth and Cyril Fletcher in one body - trashing the set, pursued by Kevin Eldon in a brown overall and a lady trombonist. As it is, they'll have to settle for best finish of a run's penultimate show, but I reserve the right to restore the original order when I put the series on disc.

Talking of endings, I suspect that those who predict the imminent end of days may have a point. I'm not talking about New Labour's Nixonian smear shite. I'm not talking about natural disasters all over the shop. I'm not even talking about the return of Britain's Got Talent. I'm talking about the fact that, earlier today, I bought a JVC hi-fi stereo VHS recorder in good condition for £4.99. I remember when tapes cost more than that.