Fame

Shortly after Chris Mullin published his first volume of diaries, he came to speak to the Hull Politics graduates association at Westminster.  He bought a box full of copies of his book to sell.  At the end, the box was empty.  He has not looked back since. 

He has now published a second volume, Decline & Fall, covering the period from 2005 to 2010.  The entries go up to May of this year. As with the first volume, it is a cracking good read.   Keen readers will doubtless already have noticed the following 2010 entry:

Thursday, 18 February

To the University of Hull, my alma mater, to see Professor Norton and colleagues, who want me to do a series of ‘master classes’ for their politics students.  I arrived early, walked up Beverley Road to the university and whiled away the best part of an hour exploring the campus, which, at first glance, seems remarkably unchanged.  The number of students has increased fivefold but they look remarkably similar to those of forty years ago, except maybe a tad more respectable.  I have to pinch myself to realise that not one of them was born when I first set foot here; most indeed were not born when I was first elected to Parliament.  Truly, I am a dinosaur.”

At least he doesn’t have students bounding up to him to announce “You taught my father”!

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About Lord Norton

Professor of Government at Hull University, and Member of the House of Lords
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5 Responses to Fame

  1. Croft says:

    The recent publication of CM and TBs books only seems to reinforce the truth that the best written and most interesting/revealing commentators on politics are not those who rise to the very top.

  2. Lord Norton says:

    Croft: I agree. Those who reach the top pen memoirs to justify their place in history. Some are especially unenlightening. Memoirs of those who observe from the sidelines, or (in Chris Mullin´s case) the foothills, can be especially revealing. Diaries – from those of ´Chips´Channon through to Alan Clark – can be revealing as well as great reads.

    • Croft says:

      Not read CC though if its anything like AC or CM it sounds good. I don’t envy you professionally needing to read political autobiographies – some I’ve read many that made me angry with the sheer dishonesty, rewriting of history and preening accounts of how they ‘were right about everything and anything that went wrong was someone else’s fault’..

      • Lord Norton says:

        Croft: One advantage of having to read them is that one can compare. The danger is if one reads just one person’s interpretation (in other words, how they saved the world) and get a one-sided view. It is possible to read memoirs by two politicians of one event and come away thinking they are writing about completely different events. The memoirs should be treated as what they are – one person’s (usually self-serving)
        interpretation. It helps that most leading politicians nowadays pen their memoirs – preventing one effectively cornering the (interpretative) market – but it does mean a lot to read. And to buy!

  3. Frank W. Summers III says:

    Lord Norton,
    This discussion especially your second comment more than the post itself brings to mind something I have long wanted to read in one of your posts. I would like to read your discussion of the Library at Lords. I will be so bold as list some things I am intereseted in:
    1. Compared to a university library like that at Hull ….
    2. Some little touches that make it feel noble and aristocratic are ….
    3. I still buy a good number of books because….
    4. When it comes to acquisitions and loans….
    5. Administratively it is tied to the archives in the tower and the library in commons…
    6. As a reading room a like it quite well/ tolerably/ not at all because…
    7. From what I hear about the Library of Congress I want to say…
    8.One story we hear about it is….

    I know without knowing that there must be at least one good book on the subject and that you have plenty to blog about but I would love to see a blog post on this topic in the View or the LOTB…

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