One of the unexpected drawbacks of fatherhood is how it affects your reading habits. Not just in the inevitable increase of Miffy goes to the Zoo and the Just So Stories at bedtime, but in how it reduces your capacity to read large books. And I do mean large. Since reading time has now been reduced to three opportunities – bed, bath and commute – it has become effectively impossible to read hardbacks at all. Family Britain has sat on my bookshelves reproachfully since Christmas. I haven’t even bought Anthony Beevor’s book on D-Day, nor the new Robert Service book on Trotsky – I won’t have the time read them.
What’s really frustrating about this, is that I really want to buy Andrew Rawnsley’s book The End of the Party. I loved Servants of the People, and the sheer publicity that the book has garnered means that I feel like I’m missing out. Not least because there seem to be so many anecdotes that they’ve largely been missed by the press. Alex Massie has a fabulous one here:
The scene: Anthony Minghella has arrived to film a 2005 PPB featuring Gordon and Tony that's designed to show what good pals they are...
'It's all about working as a team,' Brown was recorded saying to the Prime Minister he wanted rid of. 'It's a partnership that has worked,' said Blair of the Chancellor he had planned to sack.
Before the filming began, Minghella did a warm-up exercise with his subjects to get them into the mood for some acting. The director gave each of them a notepad on which they were to write down the greatest achievement of the other man. On his notepad, Blair's looping handwriting paid tribute to Brown for: 'A strong economy'.
On his notepad, Brown wrote in his cramped script: 'A strong economy'. The Chancellor could think of no achievement that he wished to credit to Blair so he wrote down a tribute to himself instead.
That’s just gold. And it’s bloody annoying that I’ll have to wait until David Cameron’s second budget to read the damn thing in paperback…