Dave did the papers thing on Sunday AM (or Breakfast with Marr) BBC1 this morning. He has lost a lot of weight, and actually looks quite healthy.
The papers review can be fun if the guests have any sparkle, but poor Dave (representing, I think, ‘the left’) was beached next to “royal biographer” Sarah somebody (representing, I think, ‘the right’) who didn’t have much at all to say, apart from some very old story about someone you’ve never heard of, who is flogging some letters on eBay which reveal something about Camilla Horse-Face (except that everyone involved, the recipient(s) of the letters and the bloke selling them all knew, so not much to reveal really). David sat very still while she wittered about how interesting this was, but I was crying out for him to interject with something on the lines of “It’s not interesting at all.”
Everyone seems to sit very still on the programme; it’s like they put something in the coffee, like whatever neurochemical it is which keeps you semi-paralysed when you dream. But perhaps that’s just in comparison with Andrew Marr, who makes hummingbirds look narcoleptic.
But that’s not why I brought you here. I don’t think Dave’s performance was bad exactly. He seemed awake and articulate enough, and the time slot meant he only discussed three stories, but for a supposed “heavyweight” he didn’t do well either. True, Marr sort of upset the pattern by starting with Bali, and instead of asking an open question, delivered a short essay on how newspaper editors (he edited the Indy for a time) deal with big stories and no real information with a question mark at the end. Dave handled this rather well, noting that the photos did all the work in all the papers, and the background was somewhere between exiguous and non-existent, and that journalists had obviously flown from Jakarta to Bali just for the purposes of being on the spot. (That may be true for today’s editions; for the rest of the week being there might count for more than just the dateline.) He had to end, as anyone would, by saying “You’re exactly right.”
His next contribution marked precisely what it is that annoys me about him. Not that he’s a bad lad in any sense, but he does have a talent for misdirection which would make Paul Daniels proud. On David Blunkett, raised by the royal woman, because he’s covered in the Sunday Times and the News of the Screws, he said, quite rightly, that an unmarried man having sex is not a story. (He said the opposite, sarcastically, but that doesn’t work on a blog.) Like most points he makes in his columns, this is correct — or, at least, I agree with it. David Blunkett’s — or anyone’s private life — is no one else’s business. Usually. But Blunkett in this case is different. First, he may have given an interview to the Mirror about his new relationship. (I say “may” because he denies that he did, but see his biographer Stephen Pollard‘s blog for other occasions when David Blunkett denied saying things). If you tell a newspaper that you’re shagging (correction: have a platonic thing with) someone, can you be surprised when others take an interest? Second, Blunkett resigned over the story that he “fast-tracked” a visa application for his then lover’s nanny (whose charge was his own child), and to pursue his paternity claim over the baby she was then pregnant with — which turned out not to be his.
Then there are the stories themselves. Blunkett wants baby with his new girlfriend in the ST. Not really of much interest, as DA says. But the Murdoch stablemate, the NoTW has BLUNKETT BLONDE’S SECRET LOVER (the pictures of “secret passionate dates” show a couple coming out of Tesco). In itself, trivial. In contrast, well, something.
I’ve forgotten the third thing now, and the video of the programme isn’t up yet. But this seems to be typical DA to me. The art is the obvious truth in the service of a lie.