Matt Chorley’s first book, Planes, Trains and Toilet Doors: 50 Places That Changed British Politics, will be published by William Collins on October 12 in hardback, ebook and audio. It will be illustrated by award-winning political cartoonist Morten Morland.
Forget Westminster bust-ups and PMQs, some of the key events that have shaped modern British politics didn’t happen in the cloisters of parliament or Downing Street’s corridors of power, but in car parks, village halls and seaside resorts where the mundane play host to the mighty. From Pitt the Younger’s Putney Heath duel to finding Margaret Thatcher a voice coach on a train, Harold Wilson’s Scilly season holidays to John Major’s dental appointment clearing his path to No10 – these are the places where snap, sometimes daft, decisions changed the course of politics.
Matt Chorley has spent almost two decades covering Westminster, interviewing prime ministers, mocking ministers and chronicling the serious, and sometimes unintentionally hilarious, events which act as unlikely turning points in the direction of a nation. In Planes, Trains and Toilet Doors he combines his research and smart analysis with his background in comedy to create a highly entertaining and original romp through the highs and lows of British politics.
Arabella Pike, William Collins publishing director, said: "However absurd or tragic modern politics might seem, Matt’s wonderful book demonstrates that it has all happened before. Stuffed with witty and enlightening stories from across Britain, with full colour cartoons, this is the perfect gift for anyone with even a passing interest in politics.
Matt Chorley added: “Having started out in local papers, I have always enjoyed the big stories which unfold away from Westminster. Barnard Castle, Limehouse, the Sheffield Rally, the Brighton bomb have become bywords for political drama, and sit alongside the EdStone car park and the street where Nick Clegg pretended to be Tom Hanks as unlikely locations to have decided our national fate.
"History has been shaped by the would-be prime ministers who gave speeches aged two, faced being expelled aged 16 or who went on to lose their majority in a pub, or up a mountain. I hope readers will share my love of the local, of how politics is at its best when it is parochial. If not they can just look at the amazing cartoons by Morten Morland, a 40-something Norwegian who captures bewigged 17th century politicians better than anyone.”