“Virtually indispensable,” was one friend’s verdict on National Review Online. That seemed to me to make the point precisely, but he went on to tell me that “virtually” jokes were really old hat. I would have to try a deeper track.
Let’s try the truth. My life has changed because of NRO. No, really, no exaggeration. There was a time — say, the 1970s in London — when my morning went as follows: alarm clock, coffee machine (six cups), the Telegraph, the Times, the Guardian, the FT, the Mail, and finally the telephone call from Frank Johnson, my Telegraph colleague and closest friend. On a slow news days, this might go as follows:
See the Mail — another scoop. When will the other papers catch on that the Mail man has something going with a girl at Number Ten?
Scandalous, that kind of stupidity.
Great report from the Guardian’s reporter in Saigon. It’d be nice if their editorial writers occasionally read him. I take it you had a good laugh at the FT’s lead editorial on monetarism — oh, well, best not mock the afflicted. Poor Philip Hope-Wallace was weeping on the phone just now — victimized by the sub-editors again. Last night he wrote that Maria Callas sang “like a tigress deprived of her whelps.” It came out in the paper as “like a whelks-deprived tiger.” Hopeless. Now that the Catholic Church no longer expels “spoilt” priests, there are no educated people going cheap for those kinds of jobs.
And so on, and so on.
Frank amazed the rest of us with this encyclopedic knowledge of Fleet Street. Well, he’s no longer with us, and in all manner of ways he has proved to be not virtually, but truly, indispensable. But though I would dearly love to repeat those morning conversations again, I have to concede that at least the information conveyed in them has been effectively replaced.
What I would get in an hour I now pick up in a single glance down the front page of NRO. Someone else has already done my initial research and picked out the day’s most important stories. Then there’s NRO’s own take on matters grave and gay by writers as diversely brilliant as Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg, Myrna Blyth, Ramesh Ponnuru, Rich Lowry, NRO’s reigning goddess, K-Lo (or Madam K as I prefer to think of her), Jay Nordlinger, John Derbyshire, Andrew Stuttaford, and a dozen other regulars, epigrammists, psephologists, and mad-ranting polymaths. And having strolled through their glades of fact and bowers of fancy, I turn to “The Corner” where I get the latest take on the most up-to-the-minute controversies by, well, by Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldberg, Myrna Blyth, Ramesh Ponnuru, Rich Lowry, NRO’s reigning goddess, K-Lo, Jay Nordlinger . . .
But I seem to hear the interjection: “Sir, you have delighted us enough.” So I will remain long enough to say only: Keep NRO alive with your donation and with your subscription to NR. NRO is your ticket to a world seen through a glass clearly — a glass of shrewdness, wit, principle, and common sense.
Everything else is just blah!