Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles

Article excerpt

CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF DURHAM

Monday The evening news is on. And even at this great moment in my political life, I do sometimes wonder whether I've got the balance right. I mean, what is it about Jeffrey Archer? Or, should I say, what is it allegedly about Jeffrey Archer? Every day someone else stands up in court and claims she was his mistress. So he was a millionaire, a politician, a world-famous writer, had (or so it is claimed) dozens of pretty women filling up the bedrooms in his various domiciles and -- to boot -- had a fragrant and supportive wife.

I have a job on the fringes of cabinet, bugger-all money (though more than it would have been last week), a history of yearning for a fling with unavailable, manifestly unsuitable or not very attractive women, I can't even get into The Reformer's fantasy cabinet, and my wife opposes everything I do with bitterness and recrimination. Powerful men have powerful needs. Shouldn't I be a bit less timid, a bit more adventurous, give a little scope to my needs and urges? Shouldn't I give Sallyanne a call and suggest dinner?

But there again, where have we learnt about all this Archerian stuff? In a court of law, during a criminal trial in which the defendant is a man who will never have a political career again. Somewhere out there, in an office belonging to a tabloid newspaper, is a file with my name on it. There will be a journalist looking to make a name with a tale about my romps, my sex sessions, my indignities, my intimacies.

So, when Cheryl phones home from the Unison conference to ask after the twins, I remind myself that we have been together a long time, and that -- despite our disagreements -- there is a bond of sympathy and shared experience. I am, therefore, deliberately pleasant, and I express the hope that the conference is a success.

"Oh yes, Lynton," Cheryl replies, an edge in her voice, "it's a success all right. …

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