Desert Island Discs: John Prescott

A public school education can be like slapping on an expensive set of veneers. You get something blindingly shiny, but you  wonder what they’re hiding. You only have to watch five minutes of Made in Chelsea to see how some of those who have been brought up to think they deserve to rule the world, have a forcefield of braying confidence which seems to substitute for brains, actual talent or a decent personality.

I also count amongst my friends, many decent men and women emotionally messed up by their experiences of boarding school. It’s not Hogwarts. Harry Potter, like Malory Towers and St Clare’s, portrays a preposterously positive vision of boarding school. Lord of the Flies with plusher furnishings and rugby pitches is more like it. And, to think, Parliament always has been dominated by public school boys. God help us all.

So it was refreshing to hear Secondary Modern-educated John Prescott (technically, Baron Prescott of Kingston upon Hull) on Desert Island Discs. He’s not a man to whom the word ‘slick’ would ever apply, but he’s so much more interesting than Cameron and Osborne ever will be. He shone in this interview. In contrast to them, and despite all of his achievements, his self belief is low. He finds walking into restaurants alone impossibly stressful. It’s clear that there are parts of him that are messy and chaotic, and equally clear he’s done some dumb stuff. The Jags, the affair. I’m not counting the punch, because although it was politically unwise, it was also done rather superbly (not that I condone punching people of course). But he admits his faults, and what also comes across is that he’s sincere, fascinating, and in many ways, remarkable. And he genuinely admires and adores his family. This was a man taunted and tormented in Parliament for being working class, Northern and not having the slick schtick of the braying Hooray Henries. But I think, it’s evident in this programme, that he will be remembered long after they’ve merged into one unmemorable pile of beige, over-privileged bores.

If you’re quick you can catch it on iPlayer. Well worth a listen.

Posted by Inkface


Filed under Radio

7 responses to “Desert Island Discs: John Prescott

  1. Corumba Love

    Cripes Inkface,

    I’m a pretty scared, beige mush of a Corumba Love right now. Over-privileged, I grant you, but scared nonetheless.

    By way of nothing important; it just occurred to me that the term “elitist” means exactly the opposite of what you might expect when you consider all the other ‘ists” out there (racist, sexist, etc). Shame really, otherwise I could accuse you of elitism – in a warm, caring and friendly grin kind of way, naturally.

    Anyway, I think I’m going to have a bit of a lie-down until the fear passes.

    Later on I may download me a podcast of Dsert Island Discs.


    • inkface

      I meant no offence to you dear CL, I was having a bit of a (largely anti-Tory) early morning rant, so take it with a pinch of salt please do. Lots of good friends of mine went to public schools. But those who went to boarding school pretty much seem to have been emotionally messed up by it one way or another (although all are doing well in their chosen professions). And my anger comes from the way John Prescott has been belittled by Tory MPs in the commons for his accent and for not being educated as they have been. It’s vile, nasty behaviour.

      • Corumba Love

        Ah, if only a chap had ever mastered a profession rather than settling for being a renaissance dilettante or idiot (both in fact & school not to blame for either).

        As for Prescott, I think his vulnerability in parliament was less to do with his upbringing than an entertaining tendency to mangle his sentences: malapropist, if you like. Among friends this can be fun (Old Girl comes out with some real swingers, sorry, zingers) but in an unforgiving pit like the HoC it was courageous but asking for trouble.

        Anyway, will listen and report back.

      • inkface

        I don’t think they were quite malopropisms, actually. The sentence mangling I mean. John Prescott is both dyslexic and probably dyspraxic. I am intimately acquainted with someone who worked with him during his deputy PM years so I know this for a fact. We’re talking about something that is close to being (or, in fact, is) a kind of learning disability. Mocking that is both vicious and vile, in my view. But I agree it was enormously courageous of him to get into the bear pit, knowing that.

  2. Maudie

    “He’s not a man to whom the word ‘slick’ would ever apply, but he’s so much more interesting than those Brylcreemed twat twins, Cameron and Osborne ever will be.” Mocking is most vicious and vile…?? It would appear that Inkface has just dealt the sort of unfounded insult to which he objects.

    I enjoyed the programme; interview and music alike.

    • inkface

      I find the smugness of the behaviour of the extremely wealthy and powerful Bullingdon Club elite, who seem to think it’s their born right to treat other people like dirt, drives me to rage.

      I don’t think my comments are at all unfounded. Quite the reverse. I think they are entirely based on observation of the actions and words of both David Cameron and George Osborne. But I do agree rising above base insults is the wise action in life. And I will endeavor to strive to do so.

  3. Qwerty

    Finally got round to listening to this and I agree, I think he came across really well, and a lot more subtle and nuanced than his media persona. Enjoyed the way he mentioned Pauline in every other sentence. Still feeling guilty about the affair, cupcake?