Alastair's Blog

Return to:  Blog | Articles | Videos RSS feed

Beautiful but macabre setting for work on volume 2 of diaries

Posted on 24 July 2010 | 8:07am

Greetings from Lake Megunticook. Those of you who read my second novel, Maya, may have heard of it. It is the place in Maine, New England, where the narrator, Steve, came to write the story of his friendship with Maya.

In a piece of detail, I (or Steve) described how youngsters leapt from a 60 foot high mossy ledge into the lake as a coming of age dare, and how the person renting the lakeside home to Steve advised him against trying it.

Proving the old adage that fact is stranger than fiction, the lake is currently buzzing with police and marine rescue boats and divers because yesterday four young men went leaping from the cliff, and only three came back. Our hosts say it is the first time they have heard of anyone actually losing their life trying the leap, though people are warned against it.

Just as fictional Steve finished his book here, so I am going through volume 2 of my diaries, Power and the People, which covers the heady first two years of the Blair government, a period which included everything from Princess Diana’s death to Monica Lewinsky, the Good Friday Agreement, the Omagh bombing, devolution, Britain’s presidency of the EU, Kosovo, the first attacks on Iraq, the first sex scandal (Robin Cook), Peter Mandelson’s first resignation, and much else besides.

As well as checking in a control freak kind of way that all the footnotes makes sense and the square brackets are in the right place, this relaxed lakeside reading is mainly aimed at thinking about the overall message and positioning for this volume, which will be published early in the new year.

It is the sort of process which led Peter for example, to position ‘The Third Man’ as being all about himself, and without much regard to the possible political fallout of anything he might say. I must say that, half way through this volume, it is striking that someone who now presents himself as having been so all important at the time spent so much time and energy complaining how little he was involved.

This volume also covers our first difficulties with so called sleaze, not least the furore over Bernie Ecclestone’s donation to the party. It is interesting to note the very different media approach to any funding stories concerning the Tories, even though they are now in power.

We certainly had a honeymoon period. But even during it, the media never stopped coming at us big style whenever they had the chance.

By the way, if David Davis is reading this, give me a call to fix lunch. It’s been a while.

And finally, thanks to Iain Dale who is reading Prelude to Power and has already sent me half a dozen emails pointing out editing errors … proving that even with several layers of control freakery, sometimes mis-spellings get through.

*** Buy Prelude to Power here at Amazon.

  • Tiffany Brinks III

    My memories of Maine at this time of year (the four weeks of real summer to be had in that part of the world) was the buzz of horrendous numbers of horse flies, sand flies, black flies midges and tourists. Seen any of these around the lake?

  • Malcolm H

    Nice swipe at Mandelson. I went to his interview with the editor of the Times and I could hardly believe it. He drops a heap of s h i t on the paarty and then says no, no don’t rely on the extracts, buy the whole book. It was hard to leave without the view that it was all about money and vanity

  • Corinne Hall

    That’s two plus for Mr Dale in almost as many days… what is it with you two??

  • Graeme Marsh

    Am halfway through Prelude to Power. My girlfriend got it for me as a gift and having read The Blair Years, i was not so sure I could get thro another version. But it is gripping. How you had time to write this while doing all the things you describe is beyond me. Your friend Mandy does not come out too well, which is probably why he has done what he has done with his book on which I must agree with the journalist I heard who said ‘ill advised’

  • Barry

    Not a great week for the ConDems ! David Davis reportedly repeating “Brokeback Coalition” aimed at Clegg and Cameron is the tip of the iceberg. In a week where we had the Prime MInister of the country bending the knee and labelling us a’ junior partner’ in the special relationship with the US, getting the facts wrong about WWII and effectively diminishing our country whilst simultaneously elevating the US, to the farcical situation where Clegg as Dep PM speaking for the Government at PMQ’s states ‘the illegal war in Iraq’ which is not what Cameron thinks nor most of the Conservatives ! We need some leadership from the Labour Party, to take them on. They will surely be imploding, but possibly not quick enough to prevent the catastrophic damage to the fabric of public services in this country.

  • Robert Jackson

    If Trinity Mirror have their wits about them they’ll remember the gag about Brokeback previously appeared in a cartoon in the Conservative leaning Birmingham Post when they took a swipe at the LibDem/Tory (so called) “progressive partnership” running the Second City.

    Not long after the film came out – I think!

  • Mark Wright

    Peter Mandelson is not so much a human being as he is a concept. And I love a bit of post-modernism mixed into my political ideology. What did people expect?

  • Graham Jones

    I find it very unfair of David Davis to suggest that the coalition are penetrating each other, when they are, in fact, shafting the whole country. While Colin and Justin set about ruining the recovery, which they will, thousands of people are going to feel the pain of their actions. Unlike them, the rest of the country won’t be able to afford lubrication, because we will all be out of work.

  • Steve Brundish

    Clegg and Cameron are certainly a couple of cowboys and to be honest if i were Clegg I would watch at meal times because the Tories are aiming to spit roast Clegg nice and slowly. The Tory press are attacking the Lib Dems at every oppurtunity and it is showing in the polls with the Lib Demss dropping to the low teens and the Tories above 40%. So perhaps Cameron and Clegg less resemble Brokeback mountain and more Silence of the Lambs. As Hannibal Lecter once said, “People don’t always tell you what they are thinking. They just see to it that you don’t advance in life.”

  • terry aston

    could you not of been honest and published one version of the book.

    oh sorry forgot alastair

    your not honest!

  • Robert Jackson

    Following up on my comment below, what is especially distasteful about this whole “Brokeback” reference is the latent homophobia concealed within it.

    Something the Tories couldn’t escape during the election with Chris Grayling and others suffering the fate of Marsyas.

  • Pauline Ward

    I would like to strongly object to the homophobic comment by Graham Jones which I find very distressing. (2010-07-25 07:21:31). Can it be removed please?

    My reason for checking this website is actually because my RSS feeder had not shown any new posts from Alastair since 25 June. I realise the address of the feed has probably changed, but when I clicked on the orange RSS logo it said the address was unavailable, so it’s not working. Sorry to post technical info on the blog but I couldn’t find a feedback link on the website.


  • Chris lancashire

    Keep having a go at Mandelson. When thieves fall out ….

  • Graham Jones


    I did not mean any offemce. If anything, I was lampooning the attitude of David Davis. I have a very good friend who is gay, and I’ve known him since school, so I take incredible offence at your insinuations. It was a harmless joke, which i assure you he found funny. In fact, I have to admit that it was his lubrication punchline. I couldn’t care less what a persons sexuality is, but I do care what the two idiots running the country are doing to the economy, public services and clearly the nations sense of humour. So lighten up a bit. Or is that offensive too?

  • Bryan Weaver

    The earlier poster is right about the RSS feed problem. I reported the RSS feed not working about 2 weeks ago by emailing Silverfish but didn’t even get a response. Wake them up Alastair!! Not a good reflection on your deployment of technology.