Yesterday I went to The Times Destinations show in Earls Court. Sadly I was there to schweff, rather than to buy the tailor-made luxury trip of a life time. With freshly printed business cards in my pocket, I meandered through the vast quantity of stalls – past Aruba, Mauritius, South Africa, China, Nepal, Japan, Malta, Russia (well odes to them) – until I found the first of my targets: Wanderlust Magazine.
After a chat with one of their journalists and an exchange of cards (I knew they would be useful!), I set off to Food and Travel Magazine and of course to The Times travel and repeated the process. Emails can be ignored, but a person in front of you, well that can’t be ignored, and after financially battling with the journalism industry for eight months, fighting dire debt in a bid to pursue my dream job, I have taken my destiny out of cyber-space and into my own hands.
And the result of my endeavours, my loyal followers, the result was that they said they would email me. So back into the abyss of email – the escape route from etiquette. Oh to the bygone era of telephone calls, of person to person contact. I await responses with bated breath, with very bated breath.
Jonathan Dimbleby? Ah yes. Well, after my morning of schweffing and listening to a talk on the Azores, I was rather peckish, so I met my father for lunch. Over a salad and a diet coke, he raised the topic of my latest article; a rather scathing review of an art exhibition I was sent to the night before.
(Photo: Laramie Shubber)
He warned me to be careful about offending people. I argued back with one of my favourite Media Law module quotes:
“Well Mr Justice Salmon
said: ‘We are all free to state fearlessly to anyone our real opinion, honestly held, in any way we like, diffidently, politely and discreetly or pungently, rudely or even brutally. Violence of language does not necessarily mean that the views were not honest views or views which could not be held by fair-minded men.”
“And,” I continued, “I honestly believe that if you were to go down to a landfill site, you could recreate Wagner’s work.”
Topic changed and he left for a meeting. I set off schweffing again, but the thought of the review and offending people dogged me. ‘Just because I’m not an artist doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to have an opinion on art,’ ‘I am covered by fair comment,’ ‘knowing that I call it how it is gives greater credibility to the exhibitions that I like,’ ‘my job is to write my honest opinion, which may not be an opinion that the artist wants to hear, but that is my opinion nonetheless.’
I bought a copy of Wanderlust and sat down to read Daisy Cropper’s article on Siena. After whetting the appetite for a return trip to Italy, I heard the crackle of a microphone and realised that the interview with Jonathan Dimbleby had started on the World Entertainment Stage. I arrived as the questions from the audience started. A woman in a purple jumper got the ball rolling:
“I am very concerned that if the Leveson force is put into effect there will be a curtailment of freedom of speech and reporting and investigation – without which we wouldn’t have found out about the MP expenses scandal. What are your views please?”
In Jonathan Dimbleby’s lengthy response, in which he said that having politicians in ‘the driving seat’ of the press would ‘be very undesirable’, he also talked of freedom of expression and said this: “I’m offended like anyone else, sometimes people write things that really offend me… But I’m far more offended, I hope I’m not breaking the law now, I’m far more offended by those who say that my right to be offended should be taken away from me. That’s where I am on freedom of expression.”
And Mr Dimbleby, that’s where I am at too.