Anthony Howard is one of those people who has already lived forever. He’s impossibly permanent. Every time there’s yet another political scandal, a shock resignation, a change of Prime Minister, he’s there. On the TV, on the radio, everywhere, as reassuring as the sound of a whistling kettle or an aspirin fizzing in a glass of water.
“Well, of course, the same thing happened to poor old Reggie Maudling…” “I think the closest example I can think of was George Brown’s attack on Harold Wilson in the spring of 1968…” “We haven’t witnessed this kind of seismic shift in fortunes since the days of ‘Orpington Man’…”
He’s still as insightful and essential as ever, half a century since he began his trade. And to mark the anniversary, he’s doing a series of short talks on Radio 4 called Fifty Years Before The Masthead. They’re wonderfully no-holds-barred yarns, with our man even daring to include mention of – shudder – a close encounter with Michael Parkinson when the latter was busy cultivating a lifetime’s supply of mean-spirited moaning while working as “a proper journalist”.
Let’s hope he’s around for a good few more “worst week ever for the Prime Minister – since the last one!” yet.