Things didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. This was always the case with Andrew Sullivan. He asked me to write a poem for the school magazine once. And then took that poem and had his 6th Form English class analyse it, without knowing who the poet was. The ensuing analysis was presented under the poem in the magazine (carefully edited – or possibly just as was – to make me look a complete twat.) I remember my girlfriend’s mum at the time reading it and giving me a look of solace that nearly knocked me off my feet, given how much she disliked and disapproved of me.
“You mean Albert Camus” he said. And him a year below me.
Andrew Sullivan? Who he? I hear you say. He’s been a key player in the smarmy political commentariat business for most of the last thirty-four years, and famously so in The United States, whilst remaining unknown here. He could easily have been a Tory Prime Minister, had he wanted, and things had fallen his way. He trod the same Oxford Union path as many. Handed on the torch to one in particular.
The other person on the bus arguing with Andrew Sullivan and, in Andrew’s eyes at least, losing, was Keir Starmer. Neither of them seems to have changed their views much. Keir has become more pragmatic, and Sullivan has the same perverse notions of freedom as our current PM, but being severely right-wing whilst being openly gay and latterly an opponent of Trump has seen him shoe-horning his rationalisations into ever more complicated shapes to fit the contradictions inherent in his ideology.
Keir Starmer, on the other hand, still basically believes in simple notions of goodness and decency and he still wants to be a good and decent man, and frankly seems to have succeeded.
When we were arguing on the bus, Sullivan’s persistence could be so stubborn that I swear several times my head spontaneously combusted. I turned to a woman listening once and said – be very worried – he’ll be Prime Minister one day. But he won’t be. The kid who sat one desk in front of him at school will be. I wonder how Andrew Sullivan feels about that.
Either way, not bad for a couple of 11+ kids, of normal stock, from a run-down state Grammar school. Which, of course, begs the question, did they do really, really, well, or do I really, really, suck?