Such has been the velocity of events lately, it would be unwise of me to predict what might have happened in the short time between me resting my quill at the end of this column, and the words appearing in front of you. Perhaps the UK will have left the EU, rejoined it, then left again. Perhaps Michael Gove and Boris Johnson will have sumo-wrestled for their honour, married each other, then divorced. By the way, I think Mr Gove would come out on top. In the fight I mean, not the marriage.
The breakneck speed of change has left commentators scrambling for comparisons. The outcome of David Cameron’s referendum was, they said, the biggest crisis since Suez/Bannockburn/the death of Peggy Mitchell. Things have moved so fast, events you might have expected the news media to dwell on – David Cameron’s political obituary/referendum opinion polls/just how David Dimbleby manages to be so alert after 19 hours of live television – have been skipped over, as another surprising development bursts onto the news, showering everyone in embarrassment. Why did no one see THAT coming?
These are uncertain times. Like you, I’m sure, I’ve encountered people who are thrilled by what’s happening; others who’re terrified. The stakes for the UK are high, and if he wins, the steaks in America will all be Trump’s.
But if you’ll permit me to convey a point of view purely as someone who works on a daily radio news programme. I stress I offer this not to trivialise these momentous events, or the tumult that surrounds us. But strictly as a purveyor of news, who enjoys the unexpected and revels in the surprising: this is fun, isn’t it?
I’ve read some fictions about me from time to time. I tend not to bother about them. Articles by actual journalists that underestimated the number of family members I have, overestimated how much I get paid, and occasionally quote apparently well-informed BBC sources saying things that I can prove aren’t true. I don’t cause a fuss about the faux-pas of other hacks because, if you’ve ever heard PM, you’ll know that this hack is already busy apologising for his own mistakes. We’re all human.
But I’m consulting lawyers over a heinous and unforgivable mistake in my cherished local paper from Dundee, the city of my birth. The Courier is celebrating 200 years of publication. In an age when local reporters find themselves frequently unemployed, the pages of The Courier seem to be as full of local news and photos as they were before papers were challenged by social media and the internet. I salute them.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was to be included in a feature recently, listing 200 local folk who had had some impact on the world in the last two centuries. To be on a list that also featured Desperate Dan was quite something. Or so I thought until I looked more closely at the date of birth assigned to me. 1956. Yes. 1956. They think I’m 60 years old. I’m only 50!
I wrote to press regulator IPSO Facto or whatever it’s called, Nicola Sturgeon and Ban Ki Moon, demanding a huge payout, but they all agreed that while the 60 claim is wrong, it’s undeniable that I look it.