The section on journalism - one of five long, free-form parts of a book that manages to be both loosely structured and perfectly rhythmical, symphonic almost - offers a portrait of a drink-fuelled, seat-of-the-pants, less spin-obsessed age when it was also possible for Mount to get an exclusive interview with prime minister Harold Wilson. It took place at 9pm one Saturday evening in Wilson's study at No 10, which was in virtual darkness because a fuse had blown. "The atmosphere was rendered more sinister still by the fact that the prime minister was wearing a large black eyepatch," writes Mount. "The single lamp that was still functioning gave a weird cinematic effect. It was as though I had tracked down some war criminal in his last redoubt."Some very good phrases elsewhere in the piece--I like it when people have very striking and idiosyncratic spoken English...
Typically, Mount's tape recorder ran out of tape and he had no idea how to put in a new one. Wilson's press secretary did it for him. Oh, and what sounds a magnificent set-piece interview never ran. The Daily Sketch had just bought the life story of the first Miss World and plumped for that instead.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Stephen Moss has a very good piece about Ferdinand Mount at the Guardian: