I was up north for a wedding yesterday, in one of the most beautiful parts of Britain. Hence the stunning backdrops to telly interviews I did on David Cameron, Andy Coulson and the News of the World phone hacking scandal.
‘Oh Heathcliffe, Heathcliffe,’ or variants on the theme, was the most common text message that followed the one done right at the top of a Lancashire moor. That was for the Beeb whose equipment was apparently not as advanced as ITV and Sky, and who had to drive around to find a signal.
Anyway, as a result, I decided to get on the bike first thing this morning, and climb the said hill. Out of the hotel, the Inn at Whitewell, turn right, and the hill is immediate. If I tell you my top speed was 11mph and my lowest 2.7mph, you will know not only that I am not a top cyclist, but also that it was bloody steep.
But there was something wondrous about the early morning view that emerged at the top. I had a bit of a Wordsworth moment, stopped and tried to drink it all in, then thought what a wonderful country this is. You would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful spot anywhere.
On the return journey, I hit 38mph freewheeling downhill before panicking and hitting on the brakes pretty hard. Then breakfast, and reading Frank Skinner’s column in The Times led to my second ‘what a great country’ moment of the day. He was writing about the Trafalgar Sqaure fourth plinth project, taking a pop at the critics, saying it was a great symbol of freedom, and we should open our minds and enjoy it.
He has been along to see Anthony Gormley’s idea, One and Other, and his enthusiasm has made me want to do likewise when I get back to London, so I will. But first, I have a day with the manager and players at Burnley, filming for the BBC documentary I’m making on the club’s promotion. Happy days.
The phone hacking story seems pretty low key in the papers. I wonder if that is because the News of the World is not the only paper, and News International not the only group, to have got stories this way, so there may be a collective willing away of the issue.
I thought the police statement yesterday raised as many questions as it answered. There was also a very odd contrast between the speed with which some of these allegations were dismissed by assistant commissioner John Yates, and the long, drawn out investigation he led into so-called ‘cash for honours,’ an investigation launched on no evidence other than the claims of a Scottish Nationalist MP.
If I know John Prescott, I doubt that he sees Yates’ statement as the end of the matter.