Saturday, December 15, 2007

From parliament to park bench

In between the Diana-Dodi letters dominating the papers, I was just listening to the Today programme and the interview with Ed Mitchell, the former ITN news editor now reduced to living rough in Brighton. The story was discovered by a journalist on the Brighton Argus who was volunteering with a homeless charity (see we are not all bad). Since then all the papers have taken up the story. The pictures of Mitchell then and now stop you short, but what was strange was hearing the umistakeable broadcast tones of a newsreader being interviewed on Today - speaking in carefully timed and modulated sentences.
There are two trends to the story: the credit card spiral that Mitchell found himself in and the alcoholism that according to the papers which seems to have dogged him from his early days as a reporter. There is of course endless debates about whether journalistic lifestyles can exacerbate problems like drinking or whether it is something about the nature of those who go into journalism that means that you tend to find a large number of people susceptible to drinking. My personal belief is that it is a mixture of both.
Whatever, the story at least reveals what most of us turn our eyes to: the idea of the homeless as individuals. My friend N used to volunteer for Crisis every Christmas, I admired him hugely. Listening to Ed Mitchell saying cheerily that he wouldn't starve this Christmas but unable to really answer what his children thought, I felt ashamed for not doing the same.

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