To Liverpool this weekend, with childhood friends. Three of us were born at the same time – two of us in the same maternity ward, a bed apart – and our joint birthday celebrations will take us to the watering holes of Bold Street. I like Liverpool's charm and absence of pretensions – it has less of the pomposity that can stifle London nights. And my father was born there, before his family's migration to Oldham and then Hertfordshire.
What has kept us friends for 30 years? The shared rites of passage, of course – sandpits, playground football, burning of schoolbooks, the lies to pub landlords – and a sense of mischief, the realisation that we're all still aged about 12, really. Even as death and birth begin to buffet our lives, and every other weekend brings a wedding, that affinity grows – our group has doubled, welcoming girlfriends, fiancées, wives. So tonight we'll toast friendship. It all reminds me of the truism that a friend is someone who knows you and still likes you.
I wrote four weeks ago about how i reporters caught a sexual predator – a Foreign Office employee who was targeting hard-up female students – and collected enough evidence to help secure a criminal conviction. Yesterday he was jailed (page 23) and the judge praised the role of the media. “It was through investigative journalism that the defendant was revealed,” she said, “and as a direct result his activities… [were] brought to an end.” The conviction would never have come about without journalists and police working together constructively – something chief constables might like to bear in mind as they seek to cut off good journalists with the bad.