A little hypocrisy from me today. I’ve just read Tim Farron’s ‘A better Ambition’ and I’m reminded that I prefer books to blogs and other online information sources. We all know that online news is hopelessly oversimplified. Apparently, the average blog is around 1000 words. Newspaper articles are usually around 800 words. Online news items, designed to fit into your 6 inch smartphone screen are shorter. Tweets are limited to 280 characters, but the average is apparently 33.
I remembered Tim Farron being called a “God-bothering little shit” before the Lib Dem Leadership Election. This immediately endeared him to me & meant that I followed his Lib Dem leadership and media appearances over the following years with interest.
Of course, the book is an unashamed apologia for his politics and his actions from his point of view. It has his photo on the front, it tells his story in his words and it sets out to clear the record. But that’s OK, because this is not a hidden agenda, nor is the book written as disembodied and unquestionable internet truth. It’s an autobiography written by an autobiographer.
The book reveals a man with some passionately held values who’s pretty good at communicating them & is able to do so with grace and self-control in most (but not all) combative environments. It opens up the nuances behind his labels: treacherous, sanctimonious, homophobic etc and reveals a Christian guy who is comfortable in his own skin, liberal towards people with different philosophical and ethical persuasions and kind to the people around him regardless of their backgrounds. You get to hear about the social, religious, relational and musical forces that have shaped his life. His role models, his hopes, his anxieties. Tim Farron begins to make sense as a person. A person (substantially smarter and more energetic than but) not dissimilar to me. I’d like to meet him.
It takes a considerable word count to achieve this. So here’s to books and to people who write books. Maybe one day when I have enough that’s original and useful to say, I’ll write one & you’ll get to know me better.