One thing that seems to surprise the various people I’m talking to in the course of my research for the Private Eye at 50 book (that’s not even really a working title, is it?) is that I’m slowly working my way through the back issues. All 1232 (and counting) of them.
I’m not sure why. It’s kind of necessary.
It throws up some nice surprises along the way. So far I’ve stumbled across the first appearance in the national press of Doctor Who’s K9 and an early look at a teenage Sharon Osbourne.
And look who’s just popped up in the New Boys column, almost certainly written by Christopher Silvester in issue 584, 4 May 1984:
Dr Gordon Brown
The new Labour member for Dunfermline East, Dr Gordon Brown, is typical of the brand of mediocre, middle-class careerists who make up an increasing proportion of the undistinguished lobby-fodder and whom Labour habitually returns from Scotland, though he has greater academic pretensions than most.
Brown shot to provincial fame on being elected as Edinburgh University’s first student Rector in the late 1960s and ever since his ambition has outstripped his ability. Although, in a tribute, his old history tutor Dr Paul Addison has stated that Brown was “always more than a swot”, it appears that he lacked certain essential social graces. He never fully recovered from his rejection as suitor by the lovely Princess Marguerita of Romania (who works as a computer programmer in the University’s Computer Department) and ever since has devoted himself obsessively to his political career.
Before becoming Labour’s Scottish Chairman (a meaningless appointment made on the “Buggins’ Turn” principle) Brown worked on a series of current affairs documentaries for Scottish TV which were so excruciatingly dull that he was mercifully taken off the air (he has two brothers in the Scots media).
Once again he has been exceeding his limitations in his new role as a Scots lackey in the outer limits of Kinnock’s kitchen cabinet. A recent Sunday Times article which he had ghosted for the new labour leader had to be withdrawn as “hopeless” by Kinnock’s press officer, Patricia “Harpie” Hewitt.
In June, Brown will enjoy a three-week CIA freebie trip to the USA (he will get $60 a day pocket money while out there.) Kinnock felt obliged to approve this unfashionable hostage to fortune because he himself had been on a similar trip some years ago.