All entries for Saturday 22 July 2006

July 22, 2006

Review: Chance Witness by Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris is an interesting guy. A failed MP (by his own admission), followed by an inadvertantly successful journalist, his career trajectory's been quite odd, and his autobiography only occasionally refers to it. Instead, it's a brilliant read because of the bits inbetween.

With the (few) biographies I've read, I've usually tried skipping the start because the 'childhood memories' bit have been like watching paint dry. But Parris's childhood was very different, and so is his writing style.

Much of the book can be described as 'nice' without being derogatory. Parris seems acutely aware of the naivety of some of his actions, especially his visits to Clapham Common which ended up with him being beaten within an inch of his life. Similarly, writing Margaret Thatcher's correspondence provided plenty of holes for Parris to dig himself into, which he seemed to have no trouble in doing.

Parris is perhaps most infamous for 'outing' Peter Mandelson on Newsnight, much to the surprise of Mandelson's friend Jeremy Paxman. A lot of the book feels voyeuristic, with insights into the political underworkings that you rarely see, but without the boring self–obsession that you get from conventional politicians.

Chance Witness is probably the best biography I've read so far, and well recommended for anyone considering being in public life or in the public eye. Read it and you might avoid some of the many pitholes Parris fell into along his way.


Well, not quite, but I've got a House!

At 9am this morning, I had no housemates, no house, and quite frankly, no clue.

At 9pm tonight, I have four housemates, one house and quite frankly, am sorted.

Next year I'll be living in what will probably become known as the 'Purple' House. It's not purple, but the staircase is. I'll be living with Helen, Ruth, Caz and Paddy, none of whom I had met until today, but all of whom (with the exception of Paddy who I haven't met yet, but am assured is lovely) seemed great and should make great housemates. Doing the same course will assure mutual sympathy for being overworked.

And here's a reason not to go to Warwick: the rent. You might only just realise it while you're there, but Leamington's a rip–off. For a nicer property you can pay far less (I'm on about £48 a week now) and the city seems much nicer.

So it'll be a bit late now, but my advice for people who don't have anywhere to live in Warwick yet… Commute. From Cardiff.

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