One of the joys of stepping down from Parliament has been the new time I have had for others and other things.
Today was no exception as I had lunch with Mark Fisher who'd also stood down this year after 27 years as MP for Stoke on Trent. He had had two brain operations in the New Year and rightly thought his longer term health should come first plus, and more importantly, he was marrying Gilly, so why not a fresh start?
He cooked me lunch up in W10 and we chatted for a day and a life. He was by some way our best Arts Minister. I was a PPS in the DCMS for 2 years and know how many red boxes went unread. Mark was most concerned as to whether we had adequate replacements for the current outstanding directors of our leading art galleries.
In the evening, I went to the Frontline Club (www.frontlineclub.org.uk
) in Paddington to hear a conversation with Scott Malcolmson whose new book Generation's End: A Memoir of American Power since 9/11
has just been published here. Scott worked for the Op End pages of the NYT and then for Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN High Commissione for Human Rights, before he was killed in Afghanistan in 2003. Subsequently he has edited the foreign pages
of the NYT Magazine which have won countless awards.
The place was packed and the event understandbly overran. Scott told a funny story taken from his book about the time he was in the White House with Bush, Condi and Sergio when Blair came through on the direct line. Condi thought he should take it but Bush refused saying he was always fretting about something or other.
It's hard to believe that it has been 13 years since I have been able to just go out and not have to worry about a vote.......other Parliaments are able to vote online but not our's......