Inside the forbidden garden
The wisteria in full bloom, the grass mown, and the Downing Street garden – for so long a neglected and unpretty place – seemed to have been left much improved by its departing tenants. Only a dark parched patch in the middle of a lawn stood testament to the little wendyhouse Fraser and John Brown used to play in.
I hadn’t been in the Downing Street garden since Tony Blair threw a surprisingly generous party for Michael Foot’s 90th birthday. Indeed the last news conference I’d been to there had been John Major’s back in 1995 when he resigned the Tory leadership (though not the premiership) to face down the Cabinet challengers he termed the “bastards”.
Out of the bitter Whitehall wind at 2.15pm yesterday afternoon it felt as if I had stepped into a world of Alice in Wonderland. Charmed hacks sat on gold chairs covered in red velvet. Anxious earnest women handed out the “agreement” between the Ace of Spades and the King of Clubs…and then backlit the two men, so recently at war with each other, sauntered shoulder to shoulder into the forbidden garden.
Let’s be candid. I enjoyed it! As I left the garden – an old friend, one of the few hacks of my own generation, whispered in my ear “so Anglican”!
Suddenly I remembered my own ecclesiastical roots – and thought perhaps I had indeed seen a Methodist/Anglican moment in which the two churches had agreed to join up and agree both to have, and not have, bishops. It was almost as if, when they attacked Labour, they were speaking as my father’s generation used to speak about Catholics. Strangely the attacks on Labour felt uncomfortable in such comfortable a “love-fest” circumstance.
What amazing threads have wound though Snowblog in these days – Paul Begley asking about how we the media have portrayed Gordon Brown given the elegance and culture of his departure. Rebecca Carmichael is intrigued too. Brown is so hard to describe. So personable and warm in private (at times) so dark and brooding in public and private (at times) a complex man – but not a man out to enrich himself, somehow a man with a large heart, as big a brain, but somehow undermined by something verging on the paranoid (at times). I suspect history may judge him more kindly than Blair.
Richard-of-Nottingham spots my weakness – a capacity to believe in, and be swayed by, the last person I spoke to! (Someone made the same observation at our morning editorial meeting at Channel 4 News yesterday!).
Good old Adrian Clarke wants to cast the (to him) wretched Scots, Welsh and others who give we English our colour and edge into the sea!
I like Jan Benfield’s call to end the “three line whip” – let’s hope!
Thank you Colin R and Akramrburns for your generous observations about our broadcast efforts in these days.
Frank Green I feel for your inner city neice…these will be ever harder times. Moonbeach calls for us bloggers to change too. I think maybe we have in this time…let’s see.
I heed Paul Dicks’ salutary warning, and rejoice that Sarah Joy read my book Shooting History. I do indeed conclude the best is yet to come…I still believe it!
And finally I’m chuffed that Margaret McGrath watched from as far afield as the Costa del Sol. I know Snowmail makes it to New Zealand and Central China, but I’m delighted that our broadcast product and Snowblog are going international too.
Another good day in prospect – the sun is up, the wind still cold…we have interesting times ahead.