Of Cherie, her memoirs and the India connection

November 22nd, 2008 - 6:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon BrownNew Delhi, Nov 22 (IANS) Britain has come a long way since the time people would stare at an English woman sitting with an Indian man, Cherie Blair, wife of former prime minister Tony Blair and a barrister, said here Saturday recalling moments from her life.Cherie Blair signed copies of her autobiography, “Speaking for Myself”, and held forth on a gamut of subjects - including her India connection and political views - at the Oxford Bookstore in the capital Saturday.

Narrating anecdotes from her life, she said while in college she had an Indian friend who once took her out for a south Indian meal.

“As we sat in the bus, people looked at us. I am used to being looked at, but then it was unusual. I gradually realised that people were not used to seeing an English woman with an Indian man,” Cherie Blair recalled. Her country has come a long way since then, she said.

Her book, which was released in Britain earlier this year and is a deeply personal account, traces her journey as a child in Liverpool, her years as a barrister to her status as Tony Blair’s wife on 10, Downing Street and a working mother with a demanding legal profession.

Cherie Blair said the book was spurred by the fact that as a barrister and a judge, she always spoke for herself and was used to being heard.

“Yet in this other life, my voice had been unknown.…I had travelled a long way and learnt so much - and so the time had come, I decided, to speak for myself,” she said.

“My memory is not infallible and this isn’t a history book. It is one woman’s attempt to recollect her life - a memoir of me, who for a time, had a walk-on part in history,” she writes in the book.

The book, divided into 32 chapters, starts with “The Beginning” - a brief recall of her life. Cherie Blair was the first of her family to attend university.

She grows nostalgic recounting her “departure from 10, Downing Street”. “I would have preferred to stay another month,” she said. But even while leaving the prime minister’s residence last year, she felt as proud of Tony as she feels now.

“I remembered the vulnerable young man I first met, who had just lost his mother and the determination that took him to 10, Downing Street,” she recollects in her book.

Cherie Blair’s book has its share of controversy as it includes criticism of Prime Minister Gordon Brown - who she felt was eyeing the keys to No 10, Downing Street, even when her husband was in office. It also goes into details on how her son Leo was conceived because she was too embarrassed to carry contraception to Balmoral.

While releasing the book in Britain last week, Cherie Blair said it was bad for the country that high profile figures were demonised in the media and that women in particular were regularly berated for their clothes and appearance.

She said her husband’s “political memoirs” were due for release soon.

In India, her book has been published by Hachette-India, the Indian startup arm of the multinational publishing group Hachette Livre.

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