Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from this morning's papers.

1. The PM will forever be saddled with Raisa (Telegraph)

Stories of horse-riding with Rebekah Brooks in Chipping Norton embed a deadly image of Cameron as part of a swaggering lofty elite, writes Matthew Norman.

2. We need a welfare state that secures Beveridges legacy (FT)

James Purnell, former Labour Work and Pensions Secretary, calls for rebalancing welfare provision in lean times with an emphasis on quality childcare.

3. Silence in the court (Guardian)

Leading article attacks government proposals to hold certain trials covering 'sensitive material' in secret.

4. Knives out for Boris (Daily Mail)

Sonia Purnell, biographer of Boris Johnson, catalogues some of the reasons why his campaign for re-election is proving tricky and why senior Tories are determined to thwart any other ambitions he might have.

5. Labour must bite the welfare bullet to catch the public mood (Independent)

The economics of welfare reform aren't working out so well for the government, but the politics are, says Andrew Grice.

6. Maybe they are scroungers, just don't say so (Times)

The Tories' are right to be instinctively hard-hearted towards people on benefits (and the generally destitute), but to be elected they have to pretend otherwise, Matthew Parris argues.

7. From Google Downwards our Digital masters must be watched (Guardian)

Westminster's power pales beside the titanic reach of the new online leviathans, writes Jonathan Freedland.

8. Our era needs to rediscover economic statesmanship (FT)

America is reneging on its historic obligations to help the world sort itself out in a time of crisis, writes Financial Times Editor Lionel Barber.

9. As recession bites is a new kind of Northern politics emerging? (Guardian)

Ian Jack hunts for a Socialist revival in Huddersfield.

10. Admit it, the NHS is a rotten way of doing things (Telegraph)

The nation thinks it loves the health service, but it is deluded. In fact, the NHS is a vast, selfish bureaucracy, writes Charles Moore.

Getty
Show Hide image

Let's face it: supporting Spurs is basically a form of charity

Now, for my biggest donation yet . . .

I gazed in awe at the new stadium, the future home of Spurs, wondering where my treasures will go. It is going to be one of the architectural wonders of the modern world (football stadia division), yet at the same time it seems ancient, archaic, a Roman ruin, very much like an amphitheatre I once saw in Croatia. It’s at the stage in a new construction when you can see all the bones and none of the flesh, with huge tiers soaring up into the sky. You can’t tell if it’s going or coming, a past perfect ruin or a perfect future model.

It has been so annoying at White Hart Lane this past year or so, having to walk round walkways and under awnings and dodge fences and hoardings, losing all sense of direction. Millions of pounds were being poured into what appeared to be a hole in the ground. The new stadium will replace part of one end of the present one, which was built in 1898. It has been hard not to be unaware of what’s going on, continually asking ourselves, as we take our seats: did the earth move for you?

Now, at long last, you can see what will be there, when it emerges from the scaffolding in another year. Awesome, of course. And, har, har, it will hold more people than Arsenal’s new home by 1,000 (61,000, as opposed to the puny Emirates, with only 60,000). At each home game, I am thinking about the future, wondering how my treasures will fare: will they be happy there?

No, I don’t mean Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker – local as well as national treasures. Not many Prem teams these days can boast quite as many English persons in their ranks. I mean my treasures, stuff wot I have been collecting these past 50 years.

About ten years ago, I went to a shareholders’ meeting at White Hart Lane when the embryonic plans for the new stadium were being announced. I stood up when questions were called for and asked the chairman, Daniel Levy, about having a museum in the new stadium. I told him that Man United had made £1m the previous year from their museum. Surely Spurs should make room for one in the brave new mega-stadium – to show off our long and proud history, delight the fans and all those interested in football history and make a few bob.

He mumbled something – fluent enough, as he did go to Cambridge – but gave nothing away, like the PM caught at Prime Minister’s Questions with an unexpected question.

But now it is going to happen. The people who are designing the museum are coming from Manchester to look at my treasures. They asked for a list but I said, “No chance.” I must have 2,000 items of Spurs memorabilia. I could be dead by the time I finish listing them. They’ll have to see them, in the flesh, and then they’ll be free to take away whatever they might consider worth having in the new museum.

I’m awfully kind that way, partly because I have always looked on supporting Spurs as a form of charity. You don’t expect any reward. Nor could you expect a great deal of pleasure, these past few decades, and certainly not the other day at Liverpool when they were shite. But you do want to help them, poor things.

I have been downsizing since my wife died, and since we sold our Loweswater house, and I’m now clearing out some of my treasures. I’ve donated a very rare Wordsworth book to Dove Cottage, five letters from Beatrix Potter to the Armitt Library in Ambleside, and handwritten Beatles lyrics to the British Library. If Beckham and I don’t get a knighthood in the next honours list, I will be spitting.

My Spurs stuff includes programmes going back to 1910, plus recent stuff like the Opus book, that monster publication, about the size of a black cab. Limited editions cost £8,000 a copy in 2007. I got mine free, as I did the introduction and loaned them photographs. I will be glad to get rid of it. It’s blocking the light in my room.

Perhaps, depending on what they want, and they might take nothing, I will ask for a small pourboire in return. Two free tickets in the new stadium. For life. Or longer . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 16 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times