Late love, if kindled, leads to scandal : Why bother to ‘blog’ at 71?
I find myself these days – August 2011 – one of the few grizzled old men of Middle Eastern commentary still walking. Even though I was last regularly on public view in 1996 – in the pages of The Times – broadcasters still remember. On some particularly hot days – and the past six months of the “Arab Spring” have seen many such hot days – the BBC arrange for me to give up to 16 interviews to their innumerable national and local radio stations before breakfast: Every 10 minutes from 6 to 9, one of them is connected to my ISDN line – a miracle of modern technology that turns your desk into a radio studio – and that station gets about five minutes of reflection on the subject that’s making the headlines. This is partly explained by their own correspondents being stretched on such occasions, and partly by the convenience of the high-quality sound that the ISDN line provides. At short notice, it may prove hard to get some other, more attractive commentator to a studio.
But it must also have something to do with the bonds of friendship that develop across the years between broadcasters and print journalists – even in the political class generally, across ideological lines. Until recently, I had on my noticeboard a fading piece of paper bearing an address in the Barbican in the City. It was written by the late Brian Redhead – the John Humphries of his day, only more gentle – and it was his home address. One morning in 1990 in the Today offices in Broadcasting House, he dragged me to his desk and wrote down the address and asked that I visit him and his wife at home. Unfortunately, I never did. In those days – remember the gassing of the Kurds of Halabja in 1988 by the accursed Saddam or his invasion of Kuwait in 1990? – it sometimes felt as if I lived at the BBC, to the annoyance of the Foreign Desk at The Times. (I was told that Simon Jenkins, at one of his first morning conferences as Editor, had asked: “Who is this man Teimourian who is everywhere described as one of us”? Later on, he told me – or threatened me – that he read every word I wrote, but was also gracious enough to ask me to have breakfast with him at the fabulous Connaught Hotel, where he lived.) Thus I have accumulated many ‘friends’ I have never met, among the broadcasters of the world from Sydney to Calgary, through Dublin, Glasgow, Cardiff, Belfast and New York.
Sorry for the digression. Why am I starting what the young call a ‘blog’ in my 8th decade? Well, first of all, let’s see whether it lasts and whether anyone will read it. It’s probably a whim and one last attempt at weaving my way into the company of the glamorous young. I was once their darling and old longings die hard. As the Persians say: Eshqe piri, gar bejonbad / Sar be rosva’i zanad (Late love, if kindled / Leads to scandal.) But assuming it lasts, it won’t do any harm to hear the occasional reflections of a man who has watched the world from the privileged position of the British media superpower for over 40 years. If it becomes embarrassing, hopefully my family and friends will gently let me know that it’s time I spent the remainder of my time in the greenhouse talking to my aubergines.
A glimpse of my career and some of my past writings can be found at http://www.HTeimourian.net or http://www.KhayyamByTeimourian.net . You may also be interested in http://www.MigrationWatchUK.com and http://www.BalancedMigration.com . I am on the Council of the former, under Andrew Green, and a non-parliamentary member of the latter, the Cross Party Group for Balanced Migration. The Group is chaired jointly by Frank Field (Lab.) and Nicholas Soames (Con.) and includes such non-partisan figures as former Archbishop Lord Carey.
- Assad and Saddam, Khan Sheikhoun and Halabja, 2017 and 1988
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- Report of a high-level private debate on Brexit in London on June 14, 2016
- Peter Cave on my review of Bryan Magee’s Ultimate Questions
- Bryan Magee’s Ultimate Questions, Princeton University Press, 2016.
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