I read the Filth-O-Graph through the 'nineties; its photographs were the best in Fleet Street, science and nature coverage were exemplary - readable, up-to-the-moment, diverse; the barefaced redneckery of its letters page a healthy antidote to the suffocating, liberal, multicultural bleating in the Guardian, and it even published some of my letters, the editor telephoning me on one occasion to verify the cause of an insult I had paid to John Prescott but most of all I read the Telegraph for writers like Auberon Waugh and AN Wilson.
Wilson, as drily gracious on screen as on the page, presents BBC 4's Betjeman Land, an affectionate hagiography of a complex, deceitful, bibulous, effete, idle, selfish yet personable and much loved poet laureate, Sir John. His influences, his education, his vices, his adultery and notably his architectural campaigns, the saving of Victorian buildings and his rage at the vandals who would displace them with concrete torments are patiently and affectionately recalled through Wilson's seemingly effortless erudition.
My resolved view of poets is How dare there be such, making rhymes and rhythms from the entrails of our sorrow? And then selling them. Betjeman, though and Wilson are more my own sort of people, street entertainers, quizzicalising the daily, the humdrum and the mortal. It is a lovely programme, suffused with a scholarly grace, it hymns a man dead just these thirty years, a writer comprising snob, dilletante, waster and enthusiastic Everyman. It will be available on some sort of what I believe are now called portals, some fantastical, impersonal contrivance which Betjeman would have rejoiced in excoriating.