Meeting readers tends to be a lot of fun. i’s reader parties have been a great chance for our journalists to hear first-hand your enthusiasm and gripes about the paper. Yesterday I met Kathy Moyse, who began reading The Independent on 7 October 1986 – its first issue – after leaving uni, and who bid successfully in our charity auction last Christmas for Lot 10: Lunch with i’s Editor at The Ivy. (Your generosity meant we raised more than £250,000 to help child soldiers rebuild their lives.)
During three hours of talking, occasionally pausing to eat, we covered life in Africa, naughty children, unease about the niqab, teenage girls who love the Queen, most of British politics, and the merits and weaknesses of i and The Indy. (Kathy enjoys John Lichfield and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown but thinks Sport is dominated by football and would like to read more stories about women.)
Kathy was Head of English in various schools before leaving teaching because she and her colleagues, she felt, were being straitjacketed by bureaucracy. She has a dim view of the Education Secretary, who she thinks obsesses about the vested interests in teaching, without appreciating the nobler motives of the majority of staff.
Up the M1 and M6, the Prime Minister was delivering a subdued speech, by his standards. Mr Cameron is trying to plant the saplings of aspiration and optimism but we await a bit more detail. Withdrawing state benefits from under-25s, he said. Mr Cameron wants to prevent young people becoming dependent on welfare – but for that to happen his land needs a lot more opportunity.
Last word to Kathy, who said of our Berlusconi story: “When you look at Europe, it puts what happens here in perspective.”