John Gibson: A shame I missed Roy this time

Roy Hattersley. Picture: Paul Raeburn

Roy Hattersley. Picture: Paul Raeburn

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I TOLD them I was unwell. Consequently, in a Milliganesque moment I opted to miss out on Roy Hattersley at the Book Festival.

Like sacrificing a Wimbledon final ticket. An illness so debilitating that, yes, I missed Lord Hattersley’s sell-out event. From all accounts, the highlight of this year’s Bookfest.

Hatters, though, is a habitual star turn on Charlotte Square’s tented village and I rarely missed him with the inseparable mongrel Buster.

Reasons enough to consult the Gibpress File for a snippet or two from my memorable encounter with Roy Sydney George Hattersley, formerly Labour’s deputy leader. Lord Hattersley had been reflecting on 25 years as an MP.

“I enjoy appearing on television, I really do. I’m projected as the old bumbler on the box. I’m the bumbler who comes along to your house on Christmas Day to mend the fuse and blows it. There are worse things to be known as than a bumbler.”

And: “I hate London, positively loathe it, I can’t give you a rational comparison. The real difference is that Edinburgh has an identity. It has character. It is a place.

“I’ve never identified with anything so sprawling and amorphous as living in London.

“Mind you, at Festival time the traffic here is as bad as London’s. Getting to some things in the Festival has been a nightmare. It took ten minutes to get from here in Charlotte Square on Saturday afternoon to see Miriam Margolyes in her show. That’s London pace though I concede you had a Hearts-Hibs game and it was raining hard.”