Mrs Blair's Diary: a family living in quite a nice area but with rather noisy neighbours

Cherie Blair's forthcoming autobiography has been described as "a warm, intimate and often very funny portrait of a family living in extraordinary circumstances". DJ Taylor offers a sneak preview...
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From the introduction

I have often asked myself why I have written this book. Naturally our enormous mortgage has been an incentive. But mostly it is because I feel privileged. Privileged to have come so far. Privileged to have been given the opportunity to escape from the world of my father, who made such a heroic contribution to the development of the Scottish whisky industry. Somehow it feels wrong to let the journey pass as if there were no money to be made out of it.

Chapter Three: We move into No 10!

I was determined that when we moved into our new house everything would be just right! How vividly I remember that first evening when Tony and I sat listening to all the instructions Mr Murdoch had left on the answering machine, when there came a mighty roar from outside in the street.

"What on earth is that?" I wondered – a shade nervously, I will admit, because everyone had told us that the house was supposed to be in quite a nice area. "It's a cheering crowd, darling," Tony confided, in that bashful way he has. "They want me to go down and address them."

"Oh, you and your cheering crowds," I told him. "Don't be long. And perhaps you could get a pint of milk on the way back." Anyway, he went and spoke to them and I was very proud, although a teeny bit cross that he forgot the pint of milk.

Like many a young couple familiarising themselves with a new environment, we had our little differences. Later that first night, for example, I found Tony unpacking a framed photograph of a nasty-looking old lady in a blue dress. "Who might that be?" I wondered. "Someone to whom I owe a great deal," he said. "In fact, she used to live here." I don't mind admitting that I relieved my feelings by hiding it in the downstairs loo.

"Don't forget there's the state banquet tomorrow night," he went on. "Oh, you and your state banquets," I teased him. It was so extraordinary, because when I went off upstairs to change, I discovered a connecting door to the next-door house. Tony and I like our privacy, so the next morning I rang a nice man at the Office of Works and had it bricked up. "Quite right, too," Tony said. The state banquet was quite fun: I sat next to a nice old man I thought I half recognised. "How's your wife?" I asked him, knowing that old people like to be kept "in the swing of things". "Still Queen," he said.

Chapter 94: Time tosay goodbye!

Just as I shall always remember our first night at Downing Street, so I shall never forget our last. Tony was a bit disappointed that Mr Murdoch hadn't offered him a job, poor love, and rather annoyed by the loud music from next door where they were having some kind of party.

"What's that noise from the street?" I wondered. "It's an angry mob, darling," he explained, looking just like a little boy again. "They want us to leave as soon as possible." "Oh, you and your angry mobs," I said. Really, you know, it was little moments like this that made the whole thing worthwhile...

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