There’s been a huge amount happened to me while I’ve been away, some of it very good; I have caught and eaten the world’s most expensive trout (another story); finished the Selma Lagerlöf translation, and read a great many other stories from the book, which are well worth translating in an even more Grimm-brotherish way: two thirteen-year-old girls complained they were way too gloomy. I have slept little in cramped aeroplane seats and gloriously on motel beds the size of a small European farm. I met some very nice and clever people, and deflated a couple of well-filled windbags.
And when I return, the country is still obsessed by the doings former Independent journalists or the people who married them. Two of the most interesting witnesses to the Hutton Enquiry come into that category: Susan Watts — I think she is completely admirable — anf the husband of our former colleague Sarah Helm, Jonathan Powell.
Powell’s evidence today was strangely heartening: not what he said about the Gilligan/ Campbell imbroglio, but the memo of his, quoted from the time of the first dossier, shows that she didn’t marry a fool:
“The inquiry was shown an email Mr Powell sent to Mr Campbell and Sir David Manning, the prime minister’s then foreign policy adviser, which said the Iraq dossier was “good and convincing for those who are prepared to be convinced”, but that it did “nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Saddam”.
It is entirely possible that Mr Blair did not realise that he was lying to us. I’m glad that at least his advisers understood the facts.