I agree to record a second short interview about Corfu, Lord Mandelson, George Osborne, oligarchs, yachts, canapés etc. Now I put on my severe face and gravely opine that what these people have got to understand is that they’re free to socialise as they please but they must be open about whom they wine and dine and yacht with, lest any suspicion arise of undue influence.
Still feeling smug I return to my kitchen to read (in that morning’s Times) my own column which, after the expression of similar opinions, concludes that Mr Osborne’s reputation has taken a deserved knock, but should be able to recover, and that Peter Mandelson’s non-disclosure was inappropriate.
All in all, a satisfactory day’s work.
It is only at about 3am on Sunday that something nags me awake. I’m a friend – aren’t I? – of George and Frances Osborne. Not a close friend, but I’ve dined with them at least as often as Mr Mandelson admits to having met Oleg Deripaska. OK, I’m not the EU Trade Commissioner or Shadow Chancellor, but I’ve got to believe that a Times column may sometimes matter. I’m naturally confident of seeing to it that my social life never influences my professional judgment – but isn’t that exactly what Mr Osborne or Mr Mandelson would say too? Why should there be transparency for them and privacy for media commentators? How pompous, how unself-aware we are, in the modern media.