The Magical Machine

I’m sitting at a table in the corner of a room wearing a furry hat and dosed up on pseudoephedrine hydrochloride. Pseudoephedrine hydrochloride alleviates many cold symptoms, but increases hypertension, leading to greater likelihood of strokes and heart failure. What a world.

I have just listened to episode two of a new series of interviews called The Magical Machine. The subject of the second episode is I, Karl Webster, and I confess I am quite pleased with the results. Which is a relief. I was worried when it finally came to fruition a few days ago that it might give me fresh cause to loathe myself, but in the end I was able – sincerely too – to feel pretty much the opposite.


Now – partially as a result of listening to that interview, partially as a result of seeing Owen Jones earlier in the week – I am on the verge – the very meniscus no less – of what may very well be meaningful change.

On Monday night, wasted on Strepsils, I dragged myself to King’s Cross to see Owen Jones deliver a masterclass in column-writing. And despite shameless use of the word ‘columnising’, and despite the fact that the difference between the passive and active voice was promptly forgotten by Mr Jones, I was pleased that I’d made the effort. He is very good company, which for a two-and-a-half-hour-plus-fifty-quid investment, is absolutely essential.

Much of the first half of the session covered stuff I already knew, stuff I’ve gleaned and garnered during the scattergun clusterfuck of my writing career, but it all needed consolidating, and reinforcing, and that’s what it got.

The second half included an interview with Kira Cochrane, acting editor of Comment is Free, or if you prefer, Guardian Opinion, and that was very good. Enlightening, to some extent, and mildly encouraging. Which is all I could really have hoped for.

As events go, this was probably a relatively easy gig for Owen Jones, and he certainly makes it appear so; but that’s no bad thing. He wings it very well, and with enormous warmth, even when his face is buried in his phone mid-conversation.

What I really loved though, as I always do, whatever the context, was seeing someone so at home in his own skin and so able and comfortable in the role that he’s fallen into and made his own.

I don’t really have that yet. I’m pretty comfortable in my own skin finally (relatively), but the whole role thing has not really got off the ground.


But that may be about to change.

No, I’m serious.

So anyway, I did this interview, back in April or May, and it’s finally been edited and polished and set free to roam the internet, where there is every chance it will bring joy to millions. There is also every chance, of course – let us not forget – that it will just hunker down somewhere and stagnate, and putrefy, like dead flesh or faeces. At this point, it’s impossible to say.

But for posterity, and because it has a very good editing joke around the 23-minute mark, and because it’s a very good marker for the brand new leaf that’s coming very, very shortly, I’m putting it here.



About the Author

I am Karl Webster. I wrote these words. If you liked them, you’ll be overjoyed to know that there are plenty more where they came from. So you should definitely sign up to my newsletter if you haven’t already.

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