Sunday, January 8, 2012

Private Eye - The First 50 Years an A-Z - Adam Macqueen

After my birthday, Christmas, sales, the generosity of Penguin (a huge parcel of Adrian Mole thank you very much) and others, as well as a general lack of self control I think the book situation is getting a bit out of hand. I've spent a good portion of this morning scooping up errant volumes from the floor (where many have been forming precarious towers - not I hope in some sort of escape bid) and piled them all in one place, there is a much smaller stack of books already read. Some of these books have already been mentioned in passing but all cry out for more attention here as well as a more permanent and ordered home on a shelf they can call their own so it looks like I've got my work cut out.

First off the pile is 'Private Eye - The First 50 Years an A-Z', I wanted this from the moment I saw it but held off for lack of funds (and in the hope that someone would give it to me, nobody did) so was delighted to find it half price in Waterstone's when I was uncharacteristically flush. Back in the day, though certainly not including the Al Fayed owned re-launch in the mid 90's, I was generally a fan of Punch - more cartoons less pointed satire. It's a sad admission but my grasp of current affairs isn't quite up to getting the best out of Private Eye, that and without finding it offensive I can't always summon up a sufficient sense of outrage against it's victims - though as I get older that's changing. 

I do however (and can't quite believe I'm admitting this here) have a bit of a crush on Ian Hislop and admire the Eye's publish and be damned attitude as well as the way that it's steered away from sex scandals (which on the whole are probably not in the public interest however amusing they might be from time to time). The more I read about the Eye though the more intrigued I am and each time I put this book down (which isn't easy, the last two nights I've still been flicking through it at 2am hours after picking it up for an intended 10 minutes) it's with an increased conviction that the stories behind and about the magazine are probably more interesting than anything I'll ever find inside it.  

Of course that opinion might change if I read 'Private Eye' more often - which I might; after 50 years it's enough of an institution to appeal to me and Adam Macqueen has done a brilliant job of portraying it as a brilliantly anarchic gang of talents committed to exposing hypocrisy, criminality, and foolishness in those who should know better. I watched an interview with Hislop once where he explained that as editor of the Eye he basically had to be whiter than white - you can't go slinging that much mud if you have skeletons in your own cupboard - and for all those who've complained about their treatment in the Eye it would be well worth remembering that if they'd behaved better in the first place they wouldn't have anything to fear.     


  1. Private Eye is something everyone should be grateful for, as even if they don't read it, its revelations affect us all. I love the cartoons too. Mind you, I always feel I have to go and cuddle some kittens or some such after reading it, it does make me feel sad and cynical.

  2. I know the feeling. I got 30 books for Christmas! Think I might ask for a bookcase for Valentines Day.

  3. Overdue - I got one 2 years ago for valentines day, it was full in days and now I have no room for another but still can't resist More Books...

    Helen - I shall have to have a kitten handy for when I pick up a copy :)