William Rees-Mogg is one of the pivotal figures of post-war Britain. In this memoir he recounts the story of a colourful life, and reflects on the key figures and events of his time.
As editor of The Times (his glory years), journalist, commentator, Chairman of the Arts Council, and, later, Chairman of the Broadcasting Standards Council (when he was accused of censorship), William Rees-Mogg has spent his life at the centre of events in politics and journalism.
Often controversial, he has always had the courage to hold strong, fiercely defended opinions which go to the heart of the problems of the day. From his famous defence of Mick Jagger on a charge of possessing cannabis when he attacked the ‘primitive’ impulse to ‘break a butterfly on a wheel’, to his recent criticism of the morality behind the war in Kosovo and defence of monetarism, his writing has demanded attention, to the point of becoming newsworthy in itself.
He knew and knows most of the people who have shaped public events, from royalty to prime ministers, presidents, business magnates and religious leaders, and uses his unique insider perspective to great effect, with perceptive, sometimes provocative, recollections of people such as Rab Butler, Margaret Thatcher, Anthony Eden, Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, Robin Day, Rupert Murdoch and many more.
From an early age his life was filled with incident – among the many anecdotes are the stories of the Bristol Blitz; his doomed attempts to enter politics; writing speeches for Anthony Eden during Suez; hiring burglars to uncover corruption in the Met; an eventful stay at Chequers with Harold Wilson; how Rupert Murdoch amused the Queen at lunch; and how Harold Macmillan impressed Ronald Reagan at dinner.
These are colourful and illuminating memoirs.