Diary - Kevin Marsh
At the Today studio, faxes pour in from Mr Hoon and Mr Bradshaw. Mr Bradshaw's are very long, and no
Groups of Today journalists stand around TV monitors watching the Commons foreign affairs select committee deliver its verdict on - among other things - the "sexed-up" dossier. It is a clear verdict, we think, and vindicates our decision to run Andrew Gilligan's original story. Ben Bradshaw, the minister for - among other things - fish, says we must apologise. We say we have nothing to apologise for, but will correct anything that is proved to be wrong. So far, the only things proved one way or another have been proved to be right.
By the weekend, I was, thankfully, marginal to the dossier row. It became Greg Dyke's scrap. His case is a simple and formidable one: the right to publish. Alastair Campbell's apparent counter-proposition - that the BBC should not publish stories that Downing Street doesn't like - is as far from Greg's understanding of BBC journalism as you can get, and all flows from that. It is difficult not to feel ever so slightly proud of Greg - which for a BBC lifer like me is the hardest thing to say about a DG.
Meanwhile, faxes pour in from Geoff Hoon and Ben Bradshaw. Mr Bradshaw's are very long, and nothing to do with fish; Mr Hoon's are mostly shorter and about "process".
It's appraisal season at the BBC. I was once given a Dilbert greeting card on which Dogbert says appraisal is "one of the few genuine pleasures of the job and you should milk it for all it's worth". Dogbert would not have coped with appraisals at the BBC, which have to fit in with one of Greg's fine ideas - VALUES. Under VALUES, we give FEEDBACK, and TV editors are not allowed to punch, kick or bite their staff or each other, and putting bleach in eyes is now completely not allowed. But presenters do not have appraisals. They have lunches. So I spend an hour or so with Ed Stourton talking about the Apostle Paul. While we are in the restaurant, more faxes arrive at the studio from Mr Hoon and Mr Bradshaw.
Back home to France, most of all to make sure I fulfil my obligations under French law to kill all nettles and thistles by 14 July and pick up the carrier bag of rat poison that is left at the gate. This has been done on the orders of the mayor, M Hauteclocq, who has decided that the village will be rat free. The local paper, the Montreuil Hebdo, still writes its news pages in the kind of French we used to sweat over in dictation. This week's crime headline is: "He has burned two cars", and its opening par reads: "If there is a kind of inquiry that is particularly difficult to undertake and - especially - to see to a conclusion, it is without doubt one which concerns criminal fire-setting." It is the only crime in the entire paper: the second lead is: "A woman slightly injured - collision at Enocq". Inexplicably, there is not one mention of Alastair Campbell or his dodgy dossier, his relationship with intelligence material and the intelligence agencies, nor the absence of conclusive evidence as to his role in fashioning the September dossier.
Affirmingly, though, the Montreuil Hebdo declares the sun will continue to rise after Monday and even gives times. This will happen in spite of the many faxes Mr Hoon and Mr Bradshaw send.
Ten years ago this week, my body decided to try to kill me. Not in the decades-long way that all our bodies are killing all of us. But within the year. An infection of the heart - proof that God is an ironist - that the cardiologist described as "worse than cancer". My body's ill intent lost. So this week to the annual (NHS) consultation, where I was scanned, stethoscoped and declared still alive - indeed, slightly more so than last year - by Ms Banerjee. These consultations are but one beat in the crossed rhythms of daily anticoagulant pills, monthly blood tests and quarterly bungs of antibiotics. And somewhere just beyond the place you can sense is the ever-present fear that the smallest cut will infect the little plastic ball and cage in my heart whose 80 clicks a minute confirm I'm still alive. The surgery that put it there - thank you, Mr Pugsley - apparently ages the brain 20 years. So I have the mind of a 68-year-old in the body of a 48-year-old. But not in quite the way I would have wanted.
Kevin Marsh is editor of BBC Radio 4's Today programme