Why, for heaven’s sake?
Well, one can easily dispense with the liverish Oborne and the like , but the book reviews have an edge on those in The Times. Unquestionably, the magazine has improved out of all measure since Matthew d’Ancona moved from the Telegraph to take over the editorship. The added depth and coverage are evident, while style has not wholly lost out to gravitas. The real reason, one suspects, despite Malcolm’s emphatic denials, is his growing pash on the delicious Tamzin Lightwater (a pseudonym as transparent as—well—”Malcolm Redfellow”).
This weekly “Dairy of a Notting Hill Nobody” improves by the week. From the very beginning there was speculation whose hand was up the glove-puppet’s skirt. Names which appeared on the Tory blog-sites suggested Blasted Boris and d’Ancona himself. d’Ancona himself wrote:
Like many people I meet since I took over, Geordie [Greig of The Tatler] wants to know the true identity of the ‘Notting Hill Nobody’, the Cameroon press officer who writes a new diary in the Spectator under the nom de plume, Tamzin Lightwater. All I’ll say is that it isn’t me. Beyond that, like Manuel, I know nothing. But this isn’t enough for Tory frontbenchers who are ringing me up: ‘Look here, who is this person Tamzin?’ says one. ‘It’s got my girls in a terrible tizzy. They all think it’s based on them. Who is it?’
That’s understandable, for Tamsin seems to be ahead of the news and on the spot with the gossip of Conservative inner-circles.
Here is the punch-line from this week’s column:
V annoying call from Labour Party Bev. ‘So, to recap, you’re going to charge people for going to the supermarket, supertax their holidays and fine them for watching their own televisions. While we are going to cut taxes, boost business and clamp down on immigrants. And people are going to vote Tory because …?’ I could have cited any number of policies, not least our super new pledge to teach every child in Britain to make scrambled eggs. But quite frankly, it’s beneath me.
Tamzin has a promising clone at the New Statesman, going under the name of Tara Hamilton-Miller. Typical of the Old Staggerer, she is a whit more intense, and lacks the Speculator‘s whiff of acidic sparkling cyanide. For example:
When David Cameron first adopted the notion of “quality of life” as a political issue in September 2005, he made a crowd-pleasing speech defining it as high-performing local schools, available GPs and tackling crime-riddled urban areas. The crossover to strictly environmental issues has had a mixed reaction from his MPs.
Many are uncomfortable with the rhetoric, and some with the substance, such as the idea of replacing GDP as a major indicator with a Happy Planet Index. One younger shadow secretary of state visibly blushed when asked about the idea of such an index. Having not read the report, he thought it was a pop group that Dave had downloaded. A press officer has found the phrase so buttock-clenchingly intolerable that he mumbles “HPI” under his breath. He is relieved that so far he has not been asked to explain what it means.
This is Michelin two-star stuff: mérite un détour. Tamsin, for Malcolm, is the full vaut le voyage.