Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Thursday 14/9/2006 "I went in search of news," said gorgeous pouting Tom Espiner, sporty young reporter of this parish, "but it all went badly wrong". Tom had been dispatched to the ISSA Security Day, on the grounds that even if nothing much was announced, the world's most aristocratic IT expert, Merlin, Earl of Erroll, was going to give a speech on RIPA and the Computer Misuse Act.

Thursday 14/9/2006

"I went in search of news," said gorgeous pouting Tom Espiner, sporty young reporter of this parish, "but it all went badly wrong".

Tom had been dispatched to the ISSA Security Day, on the grounds that even if nothing much was announced, the world's most aristocratic IT expert, Merlin, Earl of Erroll, was going to give a speech on RIPA and the Computer Misuse Act. Merlin is the 24th such Earl, hereditary Lord High Constable of Scotland, chief of the clan of Hay, a member of the Court of Assistance of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers and quite possibly the possessor of the coolest business card in the whole of IT. It may be sad that the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers lost its legal right to adjudicate disputes on the matter of fish at the end of the 14th century, but while people like Merlin are batting for the team they will not soon disappear from the radar.

There was, as Tom suspected, no world-shattering events to report. But if you can't get a story from the Laird of the Hays talking about computer misuse, you're not really trying. The Earl got up and cleared his throat, Tom sat down and prepared to scribble some notes.

Now, Tom has reported extensively on RIPA and the CMA in the past. He is au fait with the subject. It is not unusual at the beginning of a speech for the speaker to go over common ground, to set the scene and prepare the way for the insights to come. Yet as the speech went on, Tom found not only the concepts strangely familiar but the words themselves, even some of the sentences, strongly reminiscent of material he was not so much at ease with, as author of.

The Earl had clearly done his research from impeccable sources, and thought so highly of what he found that he felt able to quote copiously and repeatedly from that river of knowledge into which he had so readily plunged. The audience was agog.

Tom had somewhat mixed emotions. "It's very flattering," he confessed to the Diary afterwards, "but I can't really write up my own words, even if they are ennobled."

As other members of the team observed, the Right Hon is thoroughly up to date with technology and able to function as his own text-to-speech converter. And it can only be a matter of time before Tom Espiner gets the call to ermine himself and becomes the Baron of Kingston and All The Realms of the South, for services to the gentry. All the fish he can eat, too, I'll be bound.