A recently submitted comment on an old post, makes a valid point. It's in response to my repetitive and transparently self-serving requests for evidence that people read this blog:
'Matthew, ten people want you to keep on blogging. Please employ a cost-benefit analysis. R'
The comment (leading me immediately to suspect anyone whose name begins with the letter 'R') panders both to my unquenchable thirst for self-deprecation and encourages me to spend less time posting. (See what you've done, 'R' - bet you feel pretty low now?)
Fortunately, I can kill two birds with one stone. Towards the back end of last year, The Times ran a couple of articles by me in their '4th plinth' (as I call it) commentary slot. I also got invited to some great breakfasts to coincide with the publication of the newspaper's Eureka supplement. At last, I thought, my ambition to be a regular columnist is about to be fulfilled. Sadly, the new dawn turned out to be a flash in the pan. Since then, I've sent in loads of ideas, and even a couple of full columns, with no joy.
So, human nature being what it is, you would expect me to read The Times comment pages with a jaundiced eye - 'how can they reject me and print this rubbish?' But I am bigger than that, oh yes, and being big is made very easy today when there are four brilliant pieces:
Duncan Bannatyne, urging British entrepreneurs to invest in Haiti;
Richard Kemp, on why we should feel positive and determined in the face of bin Laden's latest claims;
David Aaronovitch, writing about the Edlington case with his usual mixture of common sense and scathing wit; and
Rachel Sylvester on Chilcot, making me feel (a little) better about my old boss. (Accompanied, for balance, by a clever and cruel cartoon.)
The fact is I could write articles till the cows came home, made themselves a light supper and settled back to watch Newsnight (or should that be 'Moosnight'?) and still not match any of these.
I guess I'll have to stick to the quality-assurance-free zone that is my blog. Sorry 'R'!