Saturday 4 October 2008
If you ask me: John Prescott got close to the flame but seemed to learn little about the fire
If you ask me, the prospect of John Prescott fulfilling his post-office potential becomes more enticing by the week. And before you splutter on your Cheerios and ask yourself if you've missed something – though it would be amusing to imagine the "great butcher of English prose" running a sub-Post Office, complete with his cheap uniform and a big, "Free with Look and Learn" badge – I'm actually referring to whatever it is he is going to do next.
Obviously he will be doing a reality TV show, but having done one myself (that I don't think anyone saw) and knowing several other people who are presently doing them (apparently with some success) nowadays I just assume that everyone does one. And if Prescott were to participate in one, there's no reason why it shouldn't be any good; it's simply that, from a journalistic point of view, it wouldn't be very interesting.
As there was such a deluge of publicity surrounding the autobiographies by Prescott, Lord Levy and Cherie Blair, I was going to leave well alone, but as I was working my way through Matthew Parris's far more agreeable memoir, Chance Witness: An Outsider's Life in Politics, I was reminded of what a funny – and yes, slightly ludicrous – character Prescott can be. And so many thought so. Whereas Parris was always cruel, without wishing to be so, Christopher Meyer – in his own book of New Labour revelations – was seemingly intentionally so, building a picture of a politician who simply didn't know what he was talking about, and that if he did, he was incapable of articulating it.
If you haven't read Prezza: My Story – and there's no good reason why you should have – you'll know as much about the man as you would have done if you'd read it. Frankly, I find it remarkable that while the New Labour period is one of the most dissected periods of British political history, Prescott's book tells you precisely nothing. How can you be so close to the flame and learn so little about the fire?
It was said that Prescott had a long and inconclusive war with the English language. Having read his book he appears to have had a long and inconclusive war with his career, too. Who knows where life will take him next?
Actually I don't think the Post Office is such a bad idea after all.
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'
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