Roy Hattersley, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Cheerful, relaxed and fluent, Roy Hattersley let his reminiscences off the leash in a talk that added up to an evening's amusing entertainment at the Playhouse.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

Cheerful, relaxed and fluent, Roy Hattersley let his reminiscences off the leash in a talk that added up to an evening's amusing entertainment at the Playhouse.

And when it seemed it might be no more than that, he would reveal something more serious. He has retired as a politician, but not from politics.

Though he likes to laugh, there are depths of commitment beneath the surface. He represented the cuddly face of Old Labour, and disappointment with New Labour was a strong undercurrent. He recalled his childhood with affection and he enjoyed his anecdotes. What gave them edge was a weakness for irreverence. This man who had sat at the Cabinet table rejoiced in finding a great friend in his dog.

Culture mattered, too, and Shakespeare was his unhesitating choice as the greatest Briton.

After speaking, he took questions. His ready answers nearly all developed the theme of the obligations to help people least able to manage on their own, and he was not ashamed to leave us with the conviction that things really can get better.

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