Ancient Wit 155

It is my birthday! I had a celebratory dinner last night in the home of very dear friends from student days. whom I had not seen for decades. We regaled each other with stories of those long ago times, and for a while were young again.

I heard again how I forgot about one of my finals and had to be helped, too drunk to walk, into the examination room but still got a first. Absolutely true but I had forgotten it until reminded. I did remember the tales of Clement Freud’s sleaziness while Rector in his advances on female students. There was one story in hearing which I took a shamelessly big-headed delight, of when we were at a Clement Freud speech in a formal university occasion. Rather pompously, he said: “You know when you are doing the job of Rector properly when the University Court thinks you are on the students’ side, and the students think you are on the Court’s side”. I interjected loudly “Two-faced bastard” and brought the house down.

If you live long enough you will make some jokes worth retelling.

But I haven’t changed in one respect. Just as I managed to miss the start of a final exam, I managed today to miss my speech to SNP conference by not being in the hall when called. I simply misread the programme, though to be fair to myself the programme is not plain whether the resolution would be in the 10am resolutions session or the 11.30am session. I am annoyed with myself nonetheless.

The motion was on the BBC Charter and I had wished to move a reference back on the grounds that it was not radical enough in its treatment of the BBC. SNP activists are continually accused in the media of being against journalistic freedom in their “attacks” on the BBC. I intended to say that, after a great deal of professional experience monitoring state propaganda organisations around the world, I know one when I see one. To oppose the propaganda output of a state propaganda organisation is not to oppose media freedom, it is to promote it. I missed out on the applause this would have got in the hall. You can applaud now.

I was fortunate in that for the whole of my twenty years in the FCO I had staff working for me who could organise me. Tell me where I was supposed to be, take me there, and make sure I didn’t forget my coat, briefcase or wallet. Without this structure around me, life is a constant struggle against my own impracticality.

Oh well, I have got through 57 years of this. If the next forty are even slightly as enjoyable, I have much to look forward to.

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155 thoughts on “Ancient Wit

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  • Philip

    Make loud the applause from the floor,
    And empty the alcohol store;
    And then, without hurry,
    Raise glasses to Murray,
    And here’s to a great many more!

  • John Spencer-Davis

    Said it on the last thread but here again: Many Happy Returns!

    Warmest wishes,


  • John Spencer-Davis

    Whenever I do a major mess up that makes me cringe with embarrassment (which is with reasonable regularity), I reflect to myself how I will feel about it in a year’s time – wholly indifferent – and try to advance that feeling to now.

    Kind regards, John

  • PJ

    I too, was born on this very day and am proud
    to tell everyone I share the same birthday as
    Craig Murray and Evel Knievel.

    Happy Birthday Craig!

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Happy Birthday, Craig.

    I forced my retirement at 57, and it was the best thing i ever did.

    Happiest and most productive time of my life,

    Put my teaching days behind me, and concentrated on enjoying myself.

  • Clive Scott

    Sorry you missed your speaking slot. Did you attend the fringe meeting yesterday at 5.00pm re BBC Charter? Quite a lot of agitated contributions from the audience along the lines of outrageous BBC bias. Also some thoughtful contributions on how engagement with the Charter renewal might bring improvement about.

    However I have my doubts as I believe the BBC is irredeemably an agent of the Westminster elite and beyond reform. I urge every member of the SNP to cancel their licence. I cancelled before Indyref1 and only see BBC news when staying in a hotel (as last night at the conference). After a period of blissful abstinence, it is astonishing how utterly jaw droppingly crap and pathetic it when you look at it again.

    Happy birthday!

  • Pete

    Happy Birthday Craig!

    You are quite right about the BBC, sad to say. A constant parade of American neocons and their middle-eastern lackeys, clapped-out Blairites,gabbling economists who rejoice in mystifying the public about issues that are actually quite simple, shameless grovellors to the House of Saud like Frank Gardner. And that’s just Radio Four. I’ve not had a telly since 2007.

  • Pete

    By the way Craig what’s all this latest stuff about Lockerbie? I hope your inside knowledge of foreign affairs and Scotland will be brought to bear on this topic sometime. I lack such expertise, but I’m guessing that anyone doing a life sentence in a Libyan prison might have some incentive to seek a transfer to Barlinnie, for which a false confession could be an acceptable price to pay.

  • Republicofscotland

    Have a good one on your birthday Craig, not too much booze

    Speaking of the Ministry of Truth, aka the BBC, faced angry SNP activists yesterday, and their bias against Scotland and the indy ref.

    Senior Ministry of Truth executive Ewan Angus, was heckled and booed, at a stormy meeting on the fringe of the party’s annual conference in Aberdeen.

  • ------------·´`·.¸¸.¸¸.··.¸¸Node

    I too, was born on this very day and am proud to tell everyone I share the same birthday as Craig Murray and Evel Knievel.

    Happy Birthday Craig!

    Happy birthday to you both and, if I remember correctly from last year, to Brian Fujisan, this blog’s ray of sunshine.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    I was reminded of leaving it all last night when I read a review by Linda Colley of a book about life in the UK during the French revolutions in the New York Review of BOoks.

    Of course, I was most interested in the period because this was the time that Edinburg’s Henry Brougham really got established in London.

    While I didn’t expect any mention of him, I thought that Professor Colley would last least say something about the vast transformations in Ireland, England and Scotland which I think must have been in the book under review,

    There was hardly anything about it, just a boring essay about Colley’s last offering.

    Hope to get a copy of the book, and tell the NYRB bout what a crappy review she wrote, knowing full well that it still won’t publish it.

    That’s just tipicall; of the academic life.

  • Tony M

    Shared a Common’s office with Cyril Smith, he must have had an inkling. Probably blackmailed him and blew it on the nags.

  • nevermind

    Happy birthday Brian, Craig and PJ, wishing you health and happiness thereafter.
    The BBC is too big to fail or be cut into its various pieces, Its crookedness and knowledge of crookedness of other leading lights, hallo Jimmy Saville and all those who turned a blind eye to his crimes, will always make for good levers in any discussions about future franchises.

    Even a wholesale abolishment of this evil aberration would only result in the same gatekeepers being employed by other MSM stooges, these characters would not go away and pest the rest of the journalistic praternity with their urges to serve the stale establishment.

  • Tony M

    Nicholas Parsons partiality towards Clement on JAM is legendary, it was so blatant, it always struck me as odd, unfair. That benefit of the doubt seems to have transferred now to Paul Merton. Clement was an interpreter at Nuremberg, he must have some firsthand exerience of extreme torture, took to drink with a vengenance afterwards. Parsons’ father, a GP, delivered the blessed Margaret Hilda Roberts into the world. It’s is still the only thing worthwhile coming out of the BBC, that can raise a laugh, but old Nick can’t go on for ever. The News Quiz is dying the death of a thousand cuts under Miles Jupp, it’s really not working, awkward silences, stagey mechanical laughter, poor material, gits for guests. It’s fair to say the BBCs passing will not be much of a loss.

  • K Crosby

    All together now,

    Happy birthday to yoo,

    happy birthday to yoo,

    happy birthday to yoo-hoo,

    happy birthday too yoo,

    EE! EE!

  • fedup

    Happy birthday Craig, and many happy returns.

    Also happy birthday to BrianFujisan and PJ and many happy returns.

  • Ben-Outraged by the Cannabis Bigotry

    Happy B’day. You will be amazed at how smart you’ll become after 60.

  • bevin

    “I was reminded of leaving it all last night when I read a review by Linda Colley of a book about life in the UK during the French revolutions in the New York Review of BOoks.”

    Have you got the name of this book, Trowbridge. And the date it was reviewed

    “Of course, I was most interested in the period because this was the time that Edinburg’s Henry Brougham really got established in London”

    Now there was a total waste of space- Brougham was almost as evil as he was vain and foolish.

  • Mary

    From one of those silly astrology websites/

    Forecast for October 2015 to October 2016

    If You Were Born Today, October 17:

    You have strong opinions and possess much determination. Your insight into human nature makes up part of your appeal to others. Your tendency to bang your head against the wall and to become frustrated easily is something that you outgrow and/or temper over the years. Your strong ideals and emotions, if channeled constructively, can bring you much success in your chosen profession. Communication is important to you, although your own communication style is moody. You are highly intelligent and possess the ability to “hit the nail on the head”. Although you can be blunt at times, you generally come across well to others, simply because they can sense your good intentions.

    Famous people born today: Pope John Paul I, Evel Knievel, Arthur Miller, Eminem, Ziggy Marley, Rita Hayworth, Montgomery Clift, George Wendt, Margot Kidder, Craig Murray, Brian Fujisan and John Spencer-Davis.

    🙂 added a few names.

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