June 11, 2014 09:30
I don’t know who it was who said that ‘only the good die young’, but they certainly had a point. Yesterday I attended the funeral of another friend who also fell victim to that same dreaded disease at the age of 54.
Andy Wilson is not someone many of you will know, but to me and many others he was a total inspiration. I first met Andy back in 2006 when I had the idea of launching Total Politics magazine. I went to see Michael Ashcroft to see if he would back it. He was very enthusiastic and suggested I took the idea further with the man who handled many of his investments. His name was Andy Wilson. Right from the off, Andy became a confidant and a business guru, but also quickly became a friend. But more than anything else he was an enthusiast. He didn’t come from the world of politics or publishing but was fascinated by both. He was a man of ideas and positivity. He understood a company balance sheet like no one else I have ever met, and was able to explain basic accounting issues in a way that even an accounting ignoramus like me could easily understand.
Above all, Andy was a people person. He understood the power of motivation and certainly knew what motivated me. He had the power to make you feel good about what you were doing, even in difficult times. And believe me, when you launch a political magazine at the beginning of a recession, there are difficult times to go through. Even when I had difficult news to impart to him, I would always leave the room feeling much better than when I went in, and there aren’t many people I can say that about.
We didn’t always agree – that would have been odd, but in eight years of a business relationship we never had a cross word. We could be totally straight with each other without either of us taking exception to what the other was saying. He taught me more about running a business than anyone else in my career and I will always remain profoundly grateful for his guidance and inspiration.
His brother in law Damian Thornton gave the most fantastic eulogy yesterday and nothing I can say can improve on what he said. Andy bore his illness with the most tremendous courage and fortitude. He worked for as long as he could., but when he didn’t come to the Political Book Awards in March I knew things must be bad. I never talked to him about what he was going through as I decided that he probably had enough people asking how he was. And I knew if I did ask him and he told me the truth I would become too emotional, and he could do without that.
I mentioned the Political Book Awards. Everyone thinks that event was my brainchild. It wasn’t. It was Andy’s. And next year I want to name an award after him. He was a lover of books and in his eulogy yesterday we learned that on a family holiday at he age of 14. Andy polished off 15 books in 14 days. I would always send him every single book published by Biteback. Every so often he’d send me an email saying “loved that book” or “mystified as to why you took that one on”, and he’d also come up with ideas as to authors we might approach. But it was always done in a spirit of helpfulness. He was always optimistic and positive.
It is largely thanks to Andy that Biteback is now a profitable company. It took us longer than I would have liked to get there, but I do know that without Andy we wouldn’t have got there at all. I’m just so sorry that he didn’t live to see us achieve what he was always confident we could. In my moments of doubt he would take me aside and tell me how well we were doing and success would come.
He also knew how important my broadcasting is to me. I remember telling him LBC had offered me a permanent show, back in August 2010. I explained to him that I had had two dreams in life. One to be an MP and another to have my own radio show. Well the first dream had been extinguished and I really wanted to see if I could live the second. I felt I needed Andy’s and Michael’s blessing as it would effectively mean taking on the equivalent of two full time jobs. They didn’t hesitate to give their approval and I shall remain forever grateful to them both, as it would have been perfectly understandable if they felt that it would have been too much.
This tribute has already become far longer than I had intended, but that’s because there is so much I wanted to say about Andy. I can’t begin to understand how his wife Emma and their three children are coping. But they know from the turnout at the funeral yesterday the level of love and admiration there was for Andy. He was just the most kind, generous, most empathetic man you’re ever likely to meet. As an illustration of that, three years ago John and I were thinking of buying a house in Norfolk, but we couldn’t get a mortgage on it because of the fact it was of non standard construction. We didn’t need a massive mortgage so it was incredibly frustrating to see it slipping through our hands. I was sounding off about this to Andy one day and he immediately offered to lend us the money himself, personally. I was totally bowled over. In the end we didn’t win the auction so it didn’t happen, but I will never forget what he was prepared to do.
I still can’t believe that I won’t see him again. But when I think of him, I will always think of him with his infectious grin. Andy, what a very special man you were. Are. I don’t think you could have possibly comprehended what a massive hole you would leave in the lives of all who knew you. Rest easy, my friend.
June 03, 2014 10:30
Iain Dale has acquired World rights to former MP Denis MacShane’s prison diaries, which Biteback will publish in August.
Last November, MacShane pleaded guilty to false accounting at the Old Bailey and was jailed for 6 months. He was sent to Belmarsh prison and later to Brixton. This diary is a compelling account of his experiences, where he reflects on why his political career ended in one of Europe’s toughest prisons. MacShane also reveals what life is really like as a prisoner in Britain today, and delivers a damning report on the state of the UK’s failing prisons.
Iain Dale, Managing Director of Biteback says:
“Denis is a brilliant writer and knows how to tell a story. But this book has some important messages for those who run our dysfunctional prison system. It ought to be read by every MP, every prison governor and every prison officer. Perhaps some good can then come out of Denis MacShane’s prison experience.”
Serial has already been sold to a national newspaper. Publication will be supported by a major PR campaign.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 740 6497.
May 30, 2014 16:00
John Bercow, Charles Clarke, Norman Fowler, Jim Murphy… The list continues. June is a fantastic month for new releases here at Biteback. They will all be available on our 2 week price promise, so don’t miss out.
Tennis Maestros : The Twenty Greatest Male Tennis Players of All Time
Best known for his role as Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, a keen tennis player and qualified coach, assesses the merits of the legends of tennis, from Fred Perry to Roger Federer, to create a list of the all-time greats. A must read for any tennis buff.
Last Trains : Dr Beeching and the Death of Rural England
Published on the 50th anniversary of the controversial Beeching report, Last Trains looks at why the railway system contracted and criticises the political failures that bankrupted the system. The story of how alienation and modernity in the 1950s led to the death of rural England.
“A first-class journey through this defining moment in history.” Ian Hislop
Aids: Don’t Die of Prejudice
Aids examines the crisis that continues to affect millions of people around the world. In this comprehensive study, Norman Fowler travels to nine different cities from Russia to the United States and questions when governments will finally take the necessary action to prevent the ever-rising death toll.
“An immensely readable and important book.” Stephen Fry
The Too Difficult Box: The Big Issues Politicians Can’t Crack
Edited by Charles Clarke
Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke assembles an extensive cast from the world of politics, academia and public service to look those taxing topics people avoid. With essays from such influential voices as Margaret Hodge, Shirley Williams, David Blunkett and Anthony Giddens, this book aims to tackle all the issues previously consigned to the ‘too difficult’
“Charles Clarke’s commitment to grown-up politics is much-needed and runs through this book.” David Miliband
The 10 Football Matches That Changed The World: …and the One That Didn’t
Blending a love of the game with an appreciation of its place in global events, this fantastic collection is just in time for the World Cup 2014. Jim Murphy takes us from Franco’s Spain to Africa’s Alcatraz, Robben Island for a definitive look at the most important games in football history.
“This is a really fascinating book” Kenny Dalglish
Klop: Britain’s Most Ingenious Spy
With a license to bemuse and seduce the enemy into revealing their deepest secrets, ‘Klop’ Ustinov, codenamed U35, tricked his way into the confidence of Soviet commissioners and Gestapo Gruppenführer. Passing on his gift in trickery to his actor son Peter Ustinov, Klop’s untold story is one of intrigue, flirtation and beguilement. Peter Day tells the extraordinary true-story of Klop, Britain’s most enterprising spy.
Happy reading everyone.
April 09, 2014 13:15
Betrayed : The English Catholic Church and the sex abuse crisis by Richard Scorer is out now. Richard Scorer, an expert in the field, explains why this book had to be written:
“I have written this book in tribute to those many survivors of abuse brave enough to come forward and tell their stories and others who may yet do so. It is a matter of public interest that the tragic events of the last few decades are more fully understood, the better to prevent repetition in the future.
In 1983, Gilbert Gauthe, a priest in Lafayette, Louisiana, was exposed as a paedophile. The case set in motion events which have devastated the Catholic Church across the world. In 1985, Gauthe’s defence attorney, Ray Mouton, and a Vatican official, Tom Doyle, wrote a 92-page report in which they pleaded with the US Church to confront the issue of sexual abuse.
The report went to senior Catholic leaders. It was ignored, then buried. The scandal which has since unfolded in the USA and internationally has been much vaster, its impact on the Church and its congregations far more profound, than Mouton and Doyle predicted. Across the Catholic world, victims have been traumatised, parishes left broken and respect for the priesthood has been shattered. The scandal is still unfolding and is likely to continue for many years hence.
In England, the societal impact of the scandal has been less profound, leading some to play down its seriousness; in his anti-papal polemic The Case of the Pope, Geoffrey Robertson QC suggests that ‘insofar as the church has had a success story in dealing with paedophile priests, this is in the UK’. Robertson is no apologist for the Church, but his view reflects a common assumption, fostered by Catholic leaders, that there were relatively few cases in England and that such problems as existed have been eliminated by the Nolan reforms, a raft of changes to child protection in the Catholic Church in England and Wales which were introduced in 2001.
The statistics and historical records, however, indicate otherwise. In writing this book I have established that at least sixty-one Catholic priests have been convicted of sexual offences in the criminal courts in England and Wales since 1990. That is a minimum number; there may be more. In this book, which is intended to be both a history of the Catholic abuse scandal in England and Wales over the last thirty years and an analysis of Catholic safeguarding as it now operates, I examine the detail of some of these cases. Many, if not most, are ‘historic’ but some, like the recent scandals at Benedictine schools, are contemporary and post-date the Nolan reforms. They illustrate that whilst Nolan has undoubtedly improved child protection in the English Church, that task is ‘very far from accomplished’. The Church now seems to be better at reporting abuse allegations to the statutory authorities. But there remains what one inquiry report called a ‘backsliding tendency’. And there are other continuing problems too: a failure to laicise (defrock ) priests convicted of sexual offences, and a failure to support and pay just compensation to survivors.
As the cases examined in this book will show, at least until the 1990s, and in many instances much later, allegations of abuse were suppressed in ways which could never have happened if the leadership of the Church had believed itself to be accountable to its congregations, to the law and to wider society. Whilst the Church has woken up to some of these problems, many of the underlying dynamics which gave rise to the abuse crisis remain in place. Those dynamics will only change if the Church remains under the spotlight. In writing this book I hope to help ensure that the Sins of the Fathers are not visited on a new generation."
Betrayed : The English Catholic Church and the sex abuse crisis by Richard Scorer is available with our 2 week price promise now.
March 28, 2014 13:00
Oh the world of business, the tedious industry driving our little nation forward in a world built on economics and finance. There’s little humour to be found in a job built on a foundation of stock markets, Excel spreadsheets, and taxes. Biteback’s got your back though, with the release of our hilarious book The Dictionary of Humorous Business Quotations to amuse you from nine to five. Along with a cup of black coffee (sadly not included) it’s all you need to get you through the working day.
“Monday is a lame way to spend one-seventh of your life.”
“We’re a non-profit-making organisation. We don’t mean to be but we are.”
Jerry Dennis, British comedian.
“I miss being able to slam my phone down when I hang up on somebody. Violently pressing ‘end call’ just doesn’t do it for me.”
“Show me a man who doesn’t make mistakes and I’ll show you a man who doesn’t do anything.”
Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States 1901–09.
“2640K ought to be enough for anyone.”
“I don’t want money. It is only people who pay their bills who want that, and I never pay mine.”
Oscar Wilde, Irish playwright.
“If my calculations are correct, I can retire about five years after I die.” Tumblr, 2013.
“Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put on an orgy in my office and I wouldn’t look up. Well, maybe once.”
Isaac Asimov, academic and science fiction author.
“It’s amazing how many people beat you at golf now you’re no longer president.”
George H. W. Bush, President of the United States 1989–93.
So, if you need to survive the upcoming tedium of statistics, pie-charts and poorly made PowerPoint slides get your copy of The Dictionary of Humorous Business Quotations by Fred Metcalf today! Available here