The anniversary of the ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech by Enoch Powell reminded me of my stint as literary editor of this mag. If you are responsible for finding book reviews each week, you come to cherish the regulars, such as Enoch, who are prepared to review anything. His besetting sin was not racism so much as vanity. He always wanted to cut a dash by saying things, however foolish, which drew attention. Hence his famous, almost invariably ridiculous, opinions — that Our Lord was not crucified, that Shakespeare did not write the plays etc. In delivering the R of B speech he got what he most wanted: attention. No one can remember the mainstream politicians of half a century ago, but the BBC is still making programmes about Enoch, years after his preposterous claim that the black man in Britain would by now have the whip hand over the white man.
This is an extract from A.N. Wilson’s diary, which appears in this week’s magazine