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'I'm offended... it seems I'm not hack-worthy'

Everyone likes a good rant. Sarah O'Meara finds out which hot topics make Frank Skinner tick, as the book of his newspaper columns is published

It demonstrated clearly that the mood of the people in the area is not to maintain barriers, which are ludicrously termed "peace " walls, but to have them dismantled in step with the growing understanding between the two local communities.

"It's like the Berlin Wall coming down or the fall of Soviet Russia. On one level, I can't think of a news story that's given me more pleasure. It's the moment when someone takes on the school bully.

"People were too afraid of the Murdoch empire because 'orrible things would be written about them.

"Murdoch must now have a long list of, 'If I ever get back on top, he'll get it'. Ed Miliband will be blown out of the water.

"My only profound sadness is there's no evidence I was hacked. I take this as a personal insult. I'm not even hack-worthy."

LIBRARIES TURNING INTO COMPUTER CLUBS

"My first instinct on closing them was that this was terrible. It's stopping people learning who can't afford to buy books.

"Then I thought, 'Aren't libraries alienating, quite smelly places, filled with strange people who I don't want to hang around with?'

"Just to check, I went to a local library and found it's all clean, smart and lovely, but it's still not what I want it to be. There weren't many books.

"And in a romantic way, I don't want libraries to be computer clubs.

"I want to see people sitting and reading Aeschylus.

"My point is, when the people march to defend libraries, most of them won't know what they're defending."

CONVERSING WITH KIDS

"I spent a long period being quite frightened of other people's children. I didn't speak the language.

"But I made a really big effort with David Baddiel's kids because his girlfriend said to me, 'Frank, you should talk to the kids as well as us when you come round'.

"I ended up at Dave's old country home in Kent, in their hot tub, with his six-year-old daughter.

"And for an hour I barely spoke while she told me about school and a holiday they'd been on. It was just her little head talking and talking and talking. It was absolutely blissful. And I got over the fear.

"That said, I do think some people have children because they've run out of things to say.

"I was in a chip restaurant the other day and sitting on the table next to me was a child, with their parents and grandmother.

"They sat the child at one end, while they huddled at the other, like they were watching the television. Every bit of conversation went through the kid.

"I think they were happier with that level of conversation."

POLITICIANS' SALES PUFF

"There should be more brilliance in Parliament and when I say more... I mean more than none.

"Prime Minister's Questions is a road-rage level of debate. You never come away thinking, 'Oh, I've never thought that before'. They're like post-match interviews on Match Of The Day. Nothing's ever said other than the obvious.

"But then, I'm never impressed by politicians when I meet them. They just seem like guys from the sales department.

"I want it to be how I imagine Ancient Greece; big thinkers at the top, not corporate ordinaries. Where are the special people?

"There are only two political speeches I can remember ever moving me, the main one being Robin Cook's 'Why we shouldn't go into Iraq'.

"It shouldn't be that a 54-year-old man can only remember two speeches in Parliament."

ALCOHOLIC MUSICIANS

"I wasn't one of the people saying, 'Where were Amy Winehouse's friends?' because I know from my own drinking years that nobody can be told they need to quit. Unless she woke up and thought she'd had enough, it was never going to happen.

"I did think she might be one of those Shane MacGowan, Keith Richards-types, who keep going forever, though. Some people have that iron constitution. Shane McGowan's been drunk for 25 years. I've met him.

"He was drunk, but he was also articulate, interesting, funny and heart-warming. And then he went away and drank a bottle of Cinzano and a bottle of vodka.

THE DAY KATE MIDDLETON'S SMILE FOILED THE CYNICS

"I'm a bit worried about myself. I watched Kate In Canada: The Documentary the other day and I've completely bought into the whole 'she's just an ordinary girl' thing.

"During the wedding, there was a cynicism amnesty. Like when you go and hand your knives in. And Kate's smile seemed to be the iconic representation of a world without cynicism.

"She was the picture of undiluted happiness. Normally, we think if you're really bright, you can't be that happy.

"It's associated with a level of stupidity. But just for one day, it was OK.

"I think you can be too arch and knowing sometimes. I rebooted.

"But I also thought the Royal family missed an opportunity. They should have had her driving the car into the modern world. What a statement!

"There wouldn't have been much manoeuvring as The Mall is a straight road. Direction-wise she could just have followed the tea towels..."

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