The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: Poor, Poor Jonathan (Not That He Was a Friend)
Arnold, Wallace, The Independent (London, England)
I See from my diary that I have, on occasion, found myself at Mr Jonathan Aitken's house in Lord North Street. But my visits have been infrequent: no more than a dozen times a year since the early 1970s, often fewer. Last year, for instance, I visited the building on only 10 occasions, and I have no record of having enjoyed myself at all.
It is important to make it clear - and my solicitor Mr Carter-Ruck will be only too ready to make it even clearer - that my association with Mr Aitken was not based on anything as vulgar as "friendship". Far from it. We were both of the same political persuasion, and, from time to time, he would invite me to participate in a candid philosophical discussion with like-minded folk.
Anyone who was anyone in the world of Conservative Thought would be there: President Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Lord Wyatt of Weevil, Sir Alan Walters, Mad Frankie Fraser, the lot. On one memorable occasion, I remember sharing a silver salver of cashew nuts with a gentleman of foreign extraction. He was clad in shiny silver medals and brightly coloured ribbons galore, so my instincts told me that he was in some way connected to the military. It was only when he attempted to settle an intellectual discussion over the pros and cons of the Exchange Rate Mechanism by pulling out a sawn- off shotgun and threatening to blast Sir Geoffrey Howe's head off that I realised he was none other than the hot-headed General Noriega, the prestigious if occasionally misguided leader of Panama. On the grapevine I hear that the General is now resigning as a Privy Councillor: some in "new" Labour have questioned the validity of an honour acquired with a down-payment of pounds 9,500 and a promise of two Centurion tanks, three dozen missile-launchers and an ejector seat all delivered to a secret address. Happy days! Yet in retrospect I must make it clear that I long detected something "fishy" about Jonathan, something "not quite right" and "best avoided". This is why I always kept a healthy distance from him, only allowing him to breach my two-to-three feet exclusion zone when he was intent on replenishing my glass of Krug champagne, or introducing me to yet another of his well-tanned associates. Incidentally, I am told that there are photographs circulating in Fleet Street showing my own good self on a sun-soaked holiday with Mr Aitken, while a …
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Publication information: Article title: The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: Poor, Poor Jonathan (Not That He Was a Friend). Contributors: Arnold, Wallace - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: June 29, 1997. Page number: 21. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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