Notes

A Minor Public Figure…

We are so priviigded to get some amazing guests. From movers and shakers in the jazz world to journalists, chefs and fashion designers. We were very honoured to have the wonderful Des Wilson and his gorgeous wife Jane with us this week, and to also cook dinner for them.

We were surprised and touched when Des left a copy of his very recent book Memoirs of a Minor Public Figure in the suite after they checked out. But what a book! Choc full of information on the transformation of British politics and the people behind it. As Sir Harold Evans says in the forward: “Every country needs a Des Wilson.”

Des Wilson’s career achievements include: The founding of the influential homeless charity Shelter; receiving the 1989 ITN award as ‘environmentalist of the decade’; being a member of the English Cricket Board. As well as being the author of 15 books and a journalist, public speaker, and radio and television personality, he found time to actively engage in two life-long interests, in his younger years to play cricket, and in later years to play poker. Des Wilson’s compelling memoirs, published to coincide with his 70th birthday in March 2011, will fascinate those who remember his many dynamic campaigns for social justice. They should also excite and inspire a younger generation who will discover, by reading one man’s story, just how much ordinary citizens can achieve if they decide to fight political dereliction, bureaucratic bullying, and corporate greed. The philosophies and practical strategies that helped change Britain are just as relevant today. So is his revealing account – as one of its ‘founders’ – of how the Liberal Democrats came about and how the party has developed. His intriguing history of that party and his discussion of the emergence of a coalition will enliven the current political debate.

The pages in these memoirs really do, as Peter Hennessy says “crackle and burn”. This is a two-in-one book. At one level, it is a hugely-engaging memoir of an indefatigable character who, by sheer force of personality, political instinct and a driving sense of right and wrong rose from beginnings in New Zealand to national political and social prominence in Britain. It is a life very well lived and lived with evident glee. But this is also a must-read book for anyone involved in campaigning who wants to learn from a master strategist how it should be done. And what a record of achievement he has to draw on: Shelter, lead-free petrol, protecting children from tobacco, Freedom of Information, Sunday shopping… I defy anyone to read this and not to be inspired by the energy and enthusiasm that fizz off every page or impressed the spine of integrity that runs through this book.

I know what I will be reading tonight!! Thank you Des for your wonderful generosity and choosing to stay with us.

Visit Des’s website here.