Dear Reader: Weekend Editor on politics and 50 Shades of Grey

Harrogate Advertiser Weekend Editor - Graham Chalmers
Harrogate Advertiser Weekend Editor - Graham Chalmers

I sat eyeball to eyeball with Alastair Campbell last week.

The occasion was the Harrogate Business Luncheon where he had just given a talk pushing his new book, Winners - And How They Succeed.

We were sitting knee to knee as people round us squeezed in to shake his hand. But I was ready for battle.

Up close, Campbell seemed less scary than in his heyday as Tony Blair’s Director of Communications and Strategy when he was the most feared spin doctor in the land.

The skin hung thin but loose from his face and his eyes looked warm.

“The last time I did this was with Ken Livingstone,” I proclaimed.

“He gave me 45 minutes,” I quickly added.

“Well, you’re not getting me for that. You’ve got five minutes,” the new, mellower version of the man who, allegedly ‘sexed up’ the Iraq Dossier told me.

I didn’t know what to say when someone in the office suggested we write a story about the launch of Fifty Shades of Grey at the Harrogate Odeon this week.

Even in these liberal times, to ask someone if they are thinking of going to see the movie version of this highly naughty best-selling book is to risk suggesting something about their personal life they may not want to reveal.

If you’re a woman and want to see it, what does that say about you?

If you’re a man and want to see it, what does that say about you?

Controversy aside, such is the hype surrounding this risqué tale of S&M, the movie is certain to be a hit - and that’s not a pun.

The words ‘Fifty Shades’ seem to be on the front cover of every woman’s publication going, except, I notice, Bridal magazine.

As for the film’s limited release on those giant IMAX screens, well, the mind boggles.

Oh for the days of Harry Potter premieres.