Desert Island discs is one of my favourite radio shows as it so often cracks open the public facade of the guest and shows the real person underneath. This mornings castaway was, someone I’d not really heard of, writer Paul Johnson. It didn’t get off to a good start with his description of the Liberals in the current coalition as being so often the poison in Government. He then went on to describe how, whilst at school he belonged to the Sovereigns Guard of Honour, and how they would stand in a line at the Eucharist, then at the moment of consecration would present arms with bayonets fixed. He then went on to say “you don’t get that happening nowadays but in those days people took religion seriously”.
All that was before he’d even played his first disc so I was starting to think oh Lord who is this nutjob! But after the first disc he went on to talk about his life and he said that he’d been editor of the New Statesmen for 6 years and at the end of his term he’d decided that he didn’t enjoy power and hence he didn’t aspire to greatness. This was something I can relate to in my own life. He also told about how he was present at the birth of all of his children and even had to deliver the last one himself – given his age this must have been quite unusual for the time.
I enjoyed listening to his stories which included recollections of asking Margaret Thatcher if she like to go punting while at Oxford, meeting George Formby and John Paul Satre of who he said “he could write 20,000 words a day but he was writing in French!” It just goes to show that you don’t always have to agree with someone’s point of view to enjoy listening to what they’ve got to say. He has quite outspoken views and was asked if he felt that people should practice what the preach. He replied that he had always tried to do so, sometimes with success but at other times he’d failed!
Bad news today Postkat has taken a wrong turn and ended up in Minsk (where, apparently, all the filthy mink come from)