L’esprit de l’escalier

Oh, if only I’d made this point, or come back on that one…we all do it, and it rarely gets any better. L’esprit de l’escalier as the French call it – the feeling of anger when you walk away after an argument and wish you’d come up with the great riposte now forming (too late) in your mind.

It’s rather more annoying when somebody offers you a massive open goal and you miss. I had such an opportunity last Friday, when I went north to Glasgow to be on BBC 2’s The Review Show, the revamped and extended new version of Newsnight Review. Much of the very enjoyable discussion revolved around the increase in climate change scepticism, and it’s pretty fair to say I was on my own on that one, against Tristram Hunt, Paul Morley and the artist Beth Derbyshire. It got quite heated, but towards the end of that particular segment, while pointing out that it seemed clear the weather was changing, Beth mentioned Haiti as an example.

Haiti? We’re talking eathquakes here. Earthquakes are not caused by changes in the weather. By simply pointing that out I could have come back strong. But Beth’s point went whistling passed me. Only later, when Mike Mosbacher of this manor pointed it out did I realise what I’d let go.

Oh well. I suppose the mere fact that we were discussing it showed that the argument is moving – shifting, could I say, like tectonic plates?  

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