Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dear Bill...

We'd been pursuing Bill Deedes for Word to the Wise ever since Word launched. It had to be postponed for a variety of reasons, all of which were politely explained. Lord Deedes was not in the best of health. Lord Deedes was flying to some war-torn trouble spot to report for the Telegraph. And now it won't happen at all, which is a shame.
Deedes couldn't go to university in the thirties because his family lost all their money in the crash. He became a journalist instead and was packed off to the Abyssinian war at the age of 23. Like Richard Stott and Frank Johnson, who also died within the last year, he was a representative of that group of people who rose to become the editors of national newspapers without going to university. It's difficult to argue that they were any the less cultured as a consequence and the fact that they knew something about life beyond Soho and Westminster probably meant that they were better at their jobs.
The "edukashun-edukashun-edukashun" project means that even the guy writing the dog racing column for the Daily Star is probably a graduate now. I was recently told of the daughter of a friend who has just read English at Oxford and is now writing stories about weight loss for a weekly celebrity magazine. There would be nothing wrong in this if it wasn't her dream job.


  1. I recently took on a "graduate" who it turned out couldn't workout percentages. What shocked me was:
    a. How do you get a degree if you can't do percentages?
    b. She wasn't embarrased by her lack of knowledge.
    C. That her "degree" hadn't equipped/empowered her with the skills or gumption to look up the solution on the internet.
    d. That she thought it was funny, and called me "professor" after I'd showed her how to do them.
    (we are not the sort of organisation where this would be sacking offence, sadly)
    ps. I am all for education it took my family over 1000 years to be allowed into college, I just wish people would do more with it.

  2. Couldn't agree more. I think university these days (how old do I sound there?) makes people less aware of life red in tooth and claw than ever before, and how can you be a journalist if all that you know is a super life of your own, and the smashing lives of the stars? One of the best journos I ever worked with started off as an engineer, and one of the most characterful young journalists I worked with started off at university hoping to pursue a career in astrophysics.

  3. Oh, and I just spotted you've linked to me - thanks very much, David!