I Confess: Novelist Paul Bailey reads Paul Johnson

EVERY Friday morning I give myself a secret shot of adrenalin by reading Paul Johnson's column in The Spectator. My views incline more to those of the New Statesman, but I read him in order to know what the enemy is thinking. He's absurdly predictable, but that's part of the pleasure.

The only point at which we meet is his hatred of John Major. But then, he upbraided Margaret Thatcher for not being extreme enough.

I particularly liked his pre-general election article telling us how he had bought a Victorian watercolour. Convinced that Labour would win the election, he felt sure that such pleasures would disappear under Socialism.

His appreciation of Francis Bacon for the Telegraph acknowledged that Bacon had talent, but he deplored the fact that Bacon had used it to such despairing effect. We then had several paragraphs in praise of Paul Johnson the watercolourist whose work radiates optimism.

He referred to me last week as a 'brickie' - a reference to Carl Andre's Tate Gallery bricks - for having signed the notorious Brian Sewell letter. To be dismissed by him was rather a delight.

Paul Bailey ('Gabriel's Lament', 'Sugar Cane') was in the confessional with David Benedict

(Photograph omitted)