Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Reading Habits of Mr Matthew D'Ancona

I worry about Matt D'Ancona. The picture of him sitting at his Spectator Editor's desk in yesterday's Guardian shows a bookshelf bulging with left wing political biographies - Gaitskell, Mandelson, Blair, Callaghan, Tony Benn, Lance Price, Ramsay Macdonald. Not a single Tory tome in sight.

However, I suppose I should take consolation that my oft-remaindered tome of Blair quotations is also visible. Anyway, should Matt ever need a recommended Tory reading list he only needs to pop across the road from Number 56 to Number 18 Doughty Street. Our doors are always open!

37 comments:

philip walling said...

Iain, I'm surprised you're surprised; he's always sounded less than a Tory to me - especially in his Sunday Telegraph column - and now he seems to be changing, ever so subtly, the tone of the Spectator.

Peter Hitchens said...

Since when has leading northern comedian peter kay been editor of the Spectator?

i spy strangers said...

Sitting at his what?!

Croydonian said...

Glad I'm not the only sad enough to peer at backdrop bookshelves / CD racks....

Praguetory said...

Names on one of my bookshelves Kasparov, M Waugh, Robbie Fowler, Anthony Sampson, John Simpson, Milosevic, Heseltine, Milosevic again, Gorman (only cost a quid your honour), Botham, Andy Gray, Allan Donald, Rudy Giuliani and Alan Clark.

Og said...

I am told that D'Ancona is a cleverclogs, but his SunTel column often seems to be uncritical Cameroon propaganda and prone to Westminster Village "accepted facts" that the rest of us don't get at all.

This weekend, for instance, he came out with the old cliche "never underestimate Chancellor Brown, the foremost political strategist of his generation" (or something close to that). Well, it seems to me that the Brown strategy has been up shit creek for some years now. Since Blair first began welshing on the Granita deal, in fact. And this week's events hardly suggest that the cunning old fox Brown has got his ducks in a row, does it?

Anonymous said...

what a little porkie!

The Druid said...

Like me he probably keeps his crappy books in the office. No doubt he figures that colleagues at a right wing rag are less likely to "borrow" books on the left. Besides, what does he need them for? He was a prize fellow at All Souls, and no doubt still has access to the Codrington.

In any case what is wrong with a book of quotes on Blair? Have you forgotten the philiosphy of new Labour is espoused in soundbites!

tapestry said...

I hope left wing books are better than their blogs. last week's spectator was quite good. it struggled to find its feet for a bit after boris left.

FergusMac said...

I subscribe to the Spectator (for the moment). I do not understand why the editor thinks I might be in the slightest bit interested in reading anything Hattersley writes.

Anonymous said...

But hasn't The Speccie now moved to Victoria - rendering any trip down the road to No18 not that easy ?

Anonymous said...

On my bookshelf; Doyle Brunson *2, Mason malmuth, David sklansky, Phil hellmuth, tom Mcevoy, Mike Caro, margaret thatcher, some book on wandsworth (good read actually its about how it was won and held),John Lynch, botkin and keller, turner and wallace and hops ( the last few are environment science books!) Bjon Lomborg, William hague

Nicholas Bennett said...

Mine includes those on Matthew's bookshelf plus a wide range of books by pre-war communist leaders and tracts. Including those by my Communist trade unionist great grandfather and CP grandfather, biographies of most Prime Ministers, and politicians of all hues since World War 2. One should always know what one's opponents have and are saying.

Adrian Yalland said...

what's in his CD collection Iain? Surely a far more important judge of a mans charactor!

Adrian Yalland said...

on my bookshelf:

Both Thatcher autobiogs
All Tony Benn's diaries
All Lynne McDonald's books on WW1
Some unreadable book about John Major (very boring - obviously)
Most Lonely Planet publications
A Times world atlas
McCarthy's Bar
A load of WW1/WW2 history books I inherited from my father
Some Nigel West
Freddy Flintoff's Autobiog
Another book about Freddy Flintoff
'Me and my big mouth' by Austin Healey
Martin Johnson's autobiog
A few books on the Setwart monarchs
Some general cricket/rugby publications
HoC guide (1997)
Alan Clarke's diaries (brilliant)
....and about 3 million travel books!

And no, you cannot borrown them!

Neil Craig said...

So like me you alsways check out people's bookcase.kofokz

Perdix said...

I emailed D'Ancona last week to ask him why he admired a bunch of socialists/communists turned NuLabour. His wife is a Labour supporter.

Anonymous said...

Never mind his reading habits, it's his eating habits you should be worried about if that photo's anything to go by!

Sir Bentley Pauncefoot said...

One wonders if in fact Signor d'Ancona are Nicholas ("Oh, well perhaps just a LITTLE more pudding, after all it can't hurt, can it..") Soames are in fact one and the same (or more accurately one-and-a-half and the same) person.

Are they ever seen in public together? (or is the gravitational risk of pulling down any satellite passing overhead at the time too great?)

newmania said...

Adrian Yalland ( jolly good bloke actually)

So what you are saying is that you attended a minor public school were useless at Rugby and indeed all sport and compensate for this by researching trivia. You travel widely and inflict your awful barbarities on the unfortunate locals obliged to sell you sun tan lotion whilst snickering at your dressing up box travel wear. You will make several odiously chummy best man speeches which will cure insomnia for miles around and whatever the cost you avoid reading anything requiring more imagination than might be expected from a gerbil. You will marry a plain girl who reminds you of your mother having previously been sick on numerous` wimmin` in the clubs you attend where actually being able to dance is a throwing out offence.
Your musical taste in that you have any is whatever comes free with the bottom of the range BMW stereo; it used to be Phil Collins.
Your children ……..and so on

The Alan Clarke Diaries are pretty good but otherwise either you are being ironic or you are a walking cliché straight out of central casting.My book case is full of wonder that I will leave unspecified at this time.

XXXXX

newmnia said...

Adian Yalland
...and you want to grow up to be Jeremy Clarkson.

PRAGUETORY you`re next if I can get the time

Peter Hitchens said...

I have to add
those head phones are a bit stretched by his neck arent they?
I bet his tie stops 6 inches below his chin.
Iain , as a football fan do you ever find yourself wanting to chant "who ate all the pies" when you see him at a spectator party?

verity said...

Some anonymous person just honoured us with the contents of his bookshelf. Is he mad?

D'Ancona is a little leftie (actually, now I see his picture, a porky leftie) and he's taken The Speccie even further away from the days it was a can't miss read. The only standard he has maintained is the plodding, unfunny nature of the yawneroo cartoons.

hatfield girl said...

My bookshelves have all the books our visitors to central Tuscany have brought to my house over the last 40 years; when they leave we ask them to leave their holiday reading behind. I have the best trash library in the world.

Verity said...

The best editor for the Speccie was another candidate - Quentin Letts, a terribly funny writer. I think possibly the Barclays don't have a sense of humour. Socialists never do.

Mike Hunt Stinks said...

Left wing biographies? Get out of here!

Earl Stansgate excepted, 'Daz' Cameron is well to the left of that lot!

Griswold said...

One shelf
Alan Bennett Untold Stories
Gore Vidal United States Essays 52-
Father Joe Tony Hendra
Citizen Cohn N von Hoffmann
Matthew Parris Chance Witness
N Mailer The Executioners Song
N Mailer Oswalds Tale
T Gray Swimming to Cambodia
A Devils Chaplin R Dawkins
G Orwell Collected Essays
M d'Ancona is dumbing down Speccie. It is proper that he is widely read.

philip walling said...

Fergusmac,I agree about Hattersley's new column in the Spectator. Who on earth wants to read anything by him? It's plodding, dull and silly - I feel slightly annoyed that a suburbanite socialist should be writing about country life, of which he appears to know very little. Astonishing how in Britain hanging around for long enough seems to confer respectability on the most disreputable characters.

wonderful for his age said...

I've been hoping for some time that my sub. to the Specie is on a standing order and not one of these new fangled direct debit thingies. Then I'll be able to remember to cancel it.

I've been musing on the thought of the 'Good Fairy' offering me the choice of banishing to outer space, M D'whatsit or the the boy Dave. I think I'd choose the boy Dave.

The speculation has sent me into trance.

"Boris, Boris, why did you desert us? Please, please, do your very best to elbow the bycycling Berk into touch. (btw Boris, I do so hope your bike is kitted out with a bell)"

newmania said...

Wonderful for his age (nice name)
I have been thinking about Boris as Englands greatest living Conservative recently and its all about style.People tend to think of the faintly Wodehauseian stuff as peripheral but I wonder if it isn`t central. From many years ago I remembered being told that the style of their poetry was a political statement for the cavalier poets and this is what wik. has to say


( Cavalier poets) `their use of direct and colloquial language expressive of a highly individual personality, and their enjoyment of the casual, the amateur, the affectionate ....that they distrust the over-earnest, the too intense. ... For them life is far too enjoyable for much of it to be spent sweating over verses in a study. `( Boris ?)
BUT
`Most of the Cavalier poets were courtiers, `

ie not a thing a king could do because it is insufficiently serious. I suspect Boris will remain a courtier

G Eagle Esq said...

Sehr geEhrte Iain

My Library

"And I wish that my collection were larger for your benefit and my own credit; but I am an idle fellow and though I have not many, I have more than I ever looked into"

Your obedient servant etc

G Eagle

After Mr Bingley (Pride & Prejudice)

David Farrer said...

The office should look like this and the bookshelves like this.

MorrisOx said...

Ah, the Speccie.

I hear that appalling arriviste Neil has put some tawdry 'advertising features' into it.

Who needs them when you have a lifestyle icon like little Matty as your pin-up editor in finest tweeds.

Mind you, I might be persuaded by a 'Petsy Goes Shopping' column. Sadly, the poor gel can never afford anything.

WeightWatcher said...

Re. all the comments about D'Ancona's weight, he used to be much, much fatter.

no longer anonymous said...

I became suspicious of D'Ancona when I saw him throwing the word "reactionary" around once.

Adrian Yalland said...

Newmania - that's spookily accurate!

The list isn't exhaustive. There is a lot of interesting stuff (well, interesting to me anyway) that I didn't mention. Most of my text books from Uni are still up there (most are political tomes anyway), as well as a few general holiday reads, like "band of brothers".

As for the sporting angle, I had trials for Saracens at Rugby (which thinking about it, probably makes your point), and played a fairly decent standard of cricekt until I busted my knee (five ops later I can just about walk without a limp).

As for the travel angle, I do own a travel company afterall, but it is not the kind of travel you describe - in fact, it couldn't be further from it.

I have never been a best man, but I must admit, I have always wanted to be one (anyone interested, let me know - I won't cahrge or nuffink). But your prediction about the speech might prove true - although I usually put in a haf decent public speaking effort. I ballsed up my second wedding speech as my best man kept me sober until after the ceremony (rather than drip feeding me red wine in controlled doses), and of course, the moment I arrived at the reception, everyone wanted to buy me a drink (there is a first time for everything) and I was MORE that happy to oblige, so when I came to speak, I was slaughtered after 6 pints of Gales Horndean Special Brew and a bottle of 1994 Rioja Gran Reserva!! I still made a decent enough effort - but the wedding night was a bit flat (well, a bit flat out on the bed really).

My wife is far from plain - in fact, I definitely pulled above my weight (see the picture of her on our website for confirmation of this fact). I kept her dosed up on rohibnol until after she sined the wedding certificate!

My music tatses - well, I suspect I am busted here. Mostly classical, folk, countrty, country rock, accoustic, and a bit of reggea and Iron Maiden. It is ecclectic to say the least - but far from contemporary. Anything recorded after 1980 is probably not in my collection!

But I do think South Park is funny. Crass, probably corrupting, banal and a bad influence on today's generation - but very VERY funny!

Favourate comedy is Blackadder!

And no, I don't want to grow up to be Jeremy Clarkson. Jeremy Clarkson is GOD, and one can only hope to come into the orbit of his influence, to reach out and touch his jeans and leather jacket, and be healed!

However, if I told you about my wine collection, then I'd be very easy to read!!!

So come on - now tell us something about you - whatchyer hidin?

Anonymous said...

Is peter kay stroking a cat? Grinning because his henchmen have Bond? (played by Paddy).