Yesterday I rose in Moscow at 0230 British time to catch an early plane to London. I finally reached my bed at 0230 this morning.
After some shopping and other fun in London, I arrived at the Marquis of Granby pub just off Smith Square yesterday evening. In a function room upstairs, Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes were holding court. The event was a pre-Christmas and "thank you" drinks party for the contributors to the "Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze," among whom I am numbered.
I had been rather nervous about this party for a number of reasons.
1. I blog anonymously. It's not that I am ashamed of my opinions, or reticent about expressing them openly. But I have to be careful of publishing anti-Government sentiments when, like all major law firms, my firm from time to time advises the Government. There's no reason my partners should suffer for my views and there was a remote chance that someone at the party might recognise me. That wasn't an issue and I happily spent the evening being addressed as "Tom" or "[real name]" interchangeably.
2. I suspected I would be the oldest person there. This was not, technically, the case since Wat Tyler is of an even riper vintage than myself, but I was a long way from the statistical mean. Blogging is a young person's game, at least at present. I meet a lot of intelligent and opinionated young people through my daughters and my work, so it wasn't that much of a shock. Some were, however, far too young to have serious opinions - let alone to be blogging them. I strongly advise them to get out of the smoke-filled rooms of politics and have an energetic social life. There's plenty of time for curmudgeonry later.
3. I had a fear that I might discover that all these people with whom I have engaged in virtual debate for the last two years might prove to be "wonks," "nerds" or even plain loons. Not so. There were a couple of grumps of whom one wondered why they troubled to drink in public, but mostly they were an interesting bunch whose company I greatly enjoyed.
Matthew Sinclair and I agreed that some technique to link unaccustomed corporeal presence to blog name would have been useful. I would have been easy to talk politics all evening and leave none the wiser as to who wrote which blog. Matthew thought name tags would have been a good idea. As I have to wear them all too often in my professional life, I would have preferred everyone to have been given 10 seconds each to introduce themselves. Or maybe they could have been announced on arrival, in grand traditional style?
In any event, we managed. I didn't get chance to speak to everyone (or, should I say listen to everyone - political bloggers are a verbose bunch). But I did meet the author of my favourite blog and have the chance to deliver my wife's compliments. It's the only blog she will let me read out loud to her although, God knows, my mother would be shocked to hear it read.
I was delighted to have the chance to meet the above and also to chat and trade jokes with Andrew (don't forget the Ian) Dodge, Croydonian, James Cleverley, Ellee Seymour, Paul Linford, William Norton and the talented illustrator of the book.
I had a great time. Thanks to Ian and Guido for their hospitality and to all of the above for their company. It was a pleasure to meet you.