Neil Wilson Publishing, £14.99
ARNOLD Kemp was the complete newspaperman: an expert production journalist, an inspiring editor and a writer of rare elegance, wit and acuity. He was also the man who had most influence on my career and a dear friend.
I can’t pretend I read this selection of his journalism with detachment. Ten years after the rupture of a life pursued with passion, he is still missed by all who were close to him. For others who knew and worked with him, or daily bought the two great newspapers which were the principal beneficiaries of his gifts, Jackie Kemp, his journalist daughter, has recovered not only his presence but much of his talent and spirit.
Few old friends or colleagues will read this book without tears, laughter and – the response Kemp most relished – the urge to challenge his opinions long into the night. What of other readers? It’s often said that journalism by its nature has no shelf life and even its stellar names are remembered only by other journalists.
There is a new generation with little knowledge of Kemp’s impact on The Scotsman (as deputy editor) and The Herald (as editor) over four decades of rapid technological, political and social change. But for anyone interested in the fast-moving evolution of Scotland’s politics and the ongoing arguments about Scottish identity his work remains topical. This newspaperman not only grasped the zeitgeist but anticipated the future, which was only just taking shape in the new Scottish Parliament when he died.
Culturally and politically, Kemp was a Scottish patriot. He championed Scotland, but never parochially, exploring Europe east and west, the US, and the cities he loved best: Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, Dublin and Paris, where few were better equipped to combine the jovial pleasures of the flaneur with the intense appetites of the intellectual.
Kemp sensed in himself the “ever-lasting struggle between the bourgeois and the bohemian”; and it was perhaps this tension which made him the outstanding Scottish journalist of his generation. «
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