I didn't think I'd ever find myself uttering the words in that headline, but I'm afraid those looking for further evidence of my ideological drift to the dark side will be disappointed. I do have to express my heartfelt gratitude to the old curmudgeon, however it's for his guidance as a literary rather than an ideological mentor.
Shortly after I left the New Statesman, I found myself wandering through Waterstones on Trafalgar Square. I find bookshops very comforting in times of trouble. I was in something of a daze and found myself in the detective fiction department. Now this something unusual for me, as I rarely read the stuff, considering myself a little more high brow in my tastes.
It was at this moment, lost and directionless in a part of a bookshop where I rarely tread, that I bumped into big Bruce. "Hello, Martin," he boomed, full of the bonhomie my comrades on the left seem to find so difficult to muster at the moment. We discussed briefly his genius at his early championing of the cause of David Cameron, I told him of my sadness at leaving the NS and then he noticed where we were.
"Aha," he said (or the posh Scottish version of the same). "You like crime novels do you?"
I couldn't quite bring myself to tell him that I had wandered into that section of the bookshop in a daze and murmured something that could have been taken either way.
"Well, son, do you know the work of Reginald Hill," he said. "He's a socialist too. You'll love him." He reminded me that Hill invented the detective duo Dalziel and Pascoe and I vaguely remembered the TV series. Swept along with his enthusiasm, I asked him to recommend a title. "You could do worse than "On Beulah Height."
Now I'm hooked. I could indeed have done worse than On Beulah Height, the bleakest of murder mysteries with a backdrop of corporate greed that suited my mood.
I'm now reading a great set of short stories, There Are No Ghosts in the Soviet Union (the title story, set in 1980s Moscow is cracking).
So thanks Bruce. I owe you one.