The case for a new political party is overwhelmingby Jolyon Maugham / April 27, 2017 / Leave a comment
I arrived from New Zealand at 17, after a not especially distinguished secondary school career, and met my father, David Benedictus, for the first time (I had learned of his existence only a few weeks earlier). After several months working as a shop assistant in Fenwick’s, Newcastle, I learned from him that there was a clerical job going at BBC Radio, where he then worked. I was interviewed, stumbled through a typing test, and was offered a job paying £8,000. Six months later I had secured £300 of “seed” money from Radio 3 to return to New Zealand and record some interviews for a feature on New Zealand’s national poet.
I mention that story only because I would not, now, have the courage to offer Radio 3 a feature on anything. This despite the fact that I am much better qualified: my poor B in “University Bursary” English replaced with an MA with distinction in Modern Literature. So what has changed?
I reflect on that question a lot. And I think the answer is this: there is something intellectually debilitating in the intellectual life of our nation. A fearfulness that causes us to believe that things cannot be done. And sometimes they cannot. But sometimes they can, and we must not stop trying. And the programme I would not now have the courage to offer—”Images of James K Baxter”—was a considerable critical success.