To the “Guardian Unlimited”:http://www.newsunlimited.co.uk party last night, which was painfully hip even by the standards of Guardian parties. For people of our impeccably fashionable instincts, thought only slows you down, so it makes sense that here you really couldn’t hear yourself think at all. The treble was champagne-fuelled voices and the bass was rolling out of huge speakers around the edge of a low-ceilinged room with two or three hundred people in it. It would have been a solecism to call it anything but a space. I felt ten years older than everyone else in the room; I would learn there were at least four people older than I.
Everyone was dressed in black, even my editor, Ros Taylor, who was also wearing glamorous black-framed spectacles. Rusbridger, greatly daring, had a white shirt under his black suit. He made a speech that I haven’t heard since 1990, on the _Independent_ — the one where an editor recounts a genuine success. In the course of this, he made a joke about Eric Hobsbawm’s being present. I took this for surreal humour, but after the speech, as the noise rolled us over like big surf, I saw in the corner an old man with wattles and a fleshy nose, dressed in blue and grey. It really was Britain’s foremost Marxist historian with his wife.
What was he doing here? No one seemed to know. So I went over to talk. His son, he said, worked in the Internet business. I shouted a bit about this: it seemed damn foolish to ask him what he made of the interweb thing. Then I asked him whether he thought that ethnic cleansing would ever lose popularity. Yes, he said. Urbanisation will stop it. So I signed him up to go on the programme and staggered out, ears ringing, into the night. There appears to be a number for him in my contacts book, so I had better ring him and organise this.