Down to "The Lights", Andover yesterday to see Paddy Ashdown (pictured).
The evening was an unashamed book promotion for his recent autobiography, and his one hour talk was interleaved with readings from the book: horrors from the Balkans, military anecdotes and amusing political stories.
In the question period, he was able to give his views on a number of contemporary issues: the war in Afghanistan, the likely outcome of the coming general election and future military policy. I think it is fair to say that none of his opinions were surprising for a military man who is a current liberal Lord.
Having never seen Lord Ashdown in the flesh before, I was most interested in his character. He came across (in Myers-Briggs terms) as an engaging ESTJ with a well-developed inferior "F" function - necessary for a successful politician. He exhibited the classic ESTJ characteristic of personal vanity, with little asides about his success in learning Mandarin ('a very hard language - I got a first') and mastering Servo-Croat in the Balkans despite apparently having little native aptitude for languages.
A young 68, he's clearly finding retirement a real come-down. You're a confidante of Tony Blair, you're offered a job by Gordon Brown (and reject it), you almost become High Commissioner for Afghanistan ... and then you're addressing a half-empty hall in Andover on a Thursday evening, for God's sake.
Ephemeral, isn't it, position and fame.