It is such a relief that Dominic Cummings has gone. Not for the sake of the country or the government — you can make your own mind up about that. No, no, I’m talking about me. Over the past year or so, the abuse I’ve received on Twitter and Facebook for reporting anything perceived to have originated anywhere near Cummings has been wearing. I’ve never endorsed anything he said or did. That’s not my job, as you well know. My job is to tell you the thoughts, plans, hopes and dreams of the most powerful member of the government (which he was for a period last autumn). Sometimes that was briefed by him, often it was gleaned from old-fashioned reporting. But so triggered are some by him that even sophisticated opponents extended their hate to the chronicler, me — which I ignore, though it’s a dull background noise. Just days before Cummings quit, the virtual world infected the real world, when a posh thirtysomething bloke on Hampstead Heath approached me with his hands in prayer, ‘begging’ me to stop being Cummings’s ‘stenographer’. I pretended not to notice. He hadn’t banked on my partner Charlotte Edwardes. She may at first glance appear mild-tempered, but she was moved to explain — in explicit terms that I won’t print here — exactly how journalism actually works, and cautioned him on the dangers of social media echo chambers. I feared for him, especially when he asked if she was part of ‘Boris’s inner circle’. He backed away with the lamest rejoinder: ‘I am glad you have a girlfriend who stands up for you.’ Actually so am I, you sexist twit.
One day Johnson may regret the loss of Cummings. Because he performed one service that money can’t buy: in the public’s view, if something went wrong, it was the fault of the Mephistopheles of Barnard Castle.