Daily Archives: September 16, 2012


Leave of Absence

I was invited to be on the Murnaghan programme on Sky News this morning – which I always find a great deal more intelligent than the Andrew Marr alternative on the BBC. I declined because I did not want to get up and get a 7.30am train from Ramsgate on a Sunday morning. I had a meeting until 11.30pm last night planning a conference on human rights in Balochistan [I still tend to say Baluchistan], and I have a newly crowned tooth that seems not to want to settle down. But I am still worried by my own lack of energy, which is uncharacteristic. Is this old age?

I also have some serious work to do on my Burnes book, and next week I shall be staying in London to be in the British Library reading room for every second of its opening hours. So there may be a bit of a posting hiatus. I have in mind a short post on an important subject on which I suspect that 99% of my readership – including the regular dissident commenters – will strongly disagree with me.

This is a peculiarly introspective post, perhaps because my tooth is hurting, but I seem to have this curmudgeonly spirit which wishes to react to the huge popularity of this blog by posting something genuinely held but unpopular; a genuine view but one I don’t normally trumpet. The base thought seems to be “You wouldn’t like me if you really knew me”.

Similarly when I wrote Murder in Samarkand I was being hailed as a hero by quite a lot of people for my refusal to go along with the whole neo-con disaster of illegal wars, extraordinary rendition and severe attacks on civil liberties, sacrificing my fast track diplomatic career as a result. My reaction to putative hero worship was to publish in Murder in Samarkand not just the political facts, but an exposure of my own worst and most unpleasant behaviour in my private life.

I am in a very poor position to judge, but I believe the result rather by accident turned out artistically compelling, if you don’t want to read the book you can get a good idea of that by clicking on David Tennant in the top right of this blog and listening to him playing me in David Hare’s radio adaptation.

Anyway, that’s enough musing. You won’t like my next post, whenever it comes. Promise.

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