Richard Ingrams’s Week: I'm sorry, but all these apologies are ridiculous

Share
Related Topics

Gordon Brown has followed Tony Blair's example and taken to apologising for things that he had nothing to do with. In Blair's case it was the Irish potato famine; with Brown it is the suicide of the brilliant wartime code-breaker Alan Turing, a homosexual who killed himself after being convicted of gross indecency.

This could be interpreted as a cynical attempt to appeal to the so-called gay community. I prefer to see it as a sign of insanity on Brown's part, he (like Blair) regarding himself as a kind of Christ-like figure who can take upon himself the sins of the whole world.

As for Turing, it is interesting to realise that it was only quite recently that his wartime achievement has been recognised at all. In my old edition of the Dictionary of National Biography published in 1975, the entry on Turing says simply and misleadingly that "during the war he worked for the communications Department of the Foreign Office".

And while he was on the subject, Brown might also have apologised for the fact that at the war's end, which Turing did so much to bring about, this mathematical genius was rewarded with a humble OBE.

All this had nothing whatever to do with anti-gay prejudice but with the understandable desire on the part of Churchill and his warlords to play down and if possible to keep secret altogether the achievements of the code-breakers.

After all, if people were aware that thanks to Turing and co we knew in advance what Hitler was going to do before he did it, then Churchill might not seem quite such a brilliant far-sighted war leader as he would like us to believe.

So much for our rainy summer

We have had a washout summer. Those foolish weather forecasters promised non-stop "barbecue weather", but instead the rain has poured down in a non-stop deluge. Gales have battered the coasts. Almost every day the papers have carried pictures of shivering holidaymakers huddled on the beach trying to make the best of their seaside vacation.

So why, in the light of the above when I try to do a bit of weeding in the garden do I find the ground rock hard – so hard I can scarcely get my fork into it?

Another intriguing point. People keep asking me if I've been abroad and, if so, where did I go. The reason is they see that I have a very deep suntan – something that could have been acquired only in an exotic faraway location. I haven't. I've just been sitting in my garden whenever I had the chance, enjoying the sunshine. But how was that possible when everybody knows the rain has been bucketing down non-stop?

One explanation for these apparent discrepancies is that it wasn't a washout summer at all but, as summers go, rather a good one – including two weeks of Wimbledon with scarcely a single drop of rain.

But that would mean that all those stories about a washout summer were wrong, which in turn would mean that the people responsible for keeping us informed about what goes on in the world are so unobservant that they don't even know what kind of weather we're having, and is that possible? I'm afraid it is.

Someone must have lost the plot

Only once have I been on the judges' panel of a book prize. It was in 1992. Graham Lord, then literary editor of the Sunday Express, had had the commendable idea of launching a new prize, a rival to the Booker.

His thinking was that the Booker Prize tended to go to rather pretentious overwritten books. In contrast, the Sunday Express prize would be awarded to a book which was considered by the judges to be simply "a good read".

A shortlist was duly drawn up and we, the judges, all assembled for our final meeting which would precede the award ceremony. To the relief of all of us, there was general agreement that the prize should go to Robert Harris for his recently published thriller Fatherland set in an imaginary post-war Germany run by a victorious Hitler. If ever there was a good read, this was surely it.

However, that left some time to fill before the result was due to be announced. The discussion now turned to some of the other contenders for the prize. One of my fellow judges mentioned how much he had enjoyed a novel by Hilary Mantel called A Place of Greater Safety. There were murmurs of approval but not from me. Mantel's book was about the French Revolution. It was quite long, involved a large cast of characters and I had got stuck about a quarter of the way through. I sensed, however, that, for whatever mysterious reasons, the judges were going to ditch Harris and choose Mantel. And that is exactly what happened.

I mention all this only because I notice that on the Booker shortlist announced this week there is another very long book by Hilary Mantel. Wolf Hall, like its predecessor, is a historical novel, this time about Henry VIII's evil henchman Thomas Cromwell. If I were a betting man I would put big money on it to win but nothing will persuade me to read it.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Dynamics CRM Developer (C#, .NET, Dynamics CRM 2011/2013)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Dynamics CRM D...

Web Developer (C#, ASP.NET, AJAX, JavaScript, MVC, HTML)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Web Developer ...

C# R&D .NET Developer-Algorithms, WCF, WPF, Agile, ASP.NET,MVC

£50000 - £67000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# R&D .NE...

C# Developer (Web, HTML5, CSS3, ASP.NET, JS, Visual Studios)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Deputy Editor's Letter:

Independent Voices, Indy Voices Rhodri Jones
A couple stand in front of a beautiful cloudy scene  

In sickness and in health: It’s been stormy but there are blessings in the clouds

Rebecca Armstrong
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?