Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Well, I've learnt my lesson. After my last Speccie diary was satirised by the Guardian, Emily Maitlis, Michael White, Taki, a newspaper called the Asian Age, and -- honour of genuine honours! -- Craig Brown in Private Eye for being too name-droppy, this one is just going to be a sober chronicle of what I did last week, no frills attached. After that comprehensive going-over, I'm not going to run the same risk twice.

Monday: Dinner at Brown's with Paul Wolfowitz and his girlfriend Shaha Ali Riza, the lady over whose job there was all that fuss at the World Bank and State Department. Needless to say they don't conform in the slightest to the left-wing demonising of them during all that business, and are charm personified, along with brains the size of planets (especially her). Along with a few of the other Republican candidates, Paul has a very high regard for the character of Senator Fred Thompson, which pleased me as he had just lauded my latest book, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, in a stump speech at the Citadel in Charleston.

When 'Young' Winston Churchill and I lunched with Thompson and showed him around the Cabinet War Rooms recently, he was as jovial as you'd expect, but also an acute questioner.

Tuesday: My wife Susan Gilchrist and I gave a supper party here at home for Simon and Santa Sebag Montefiore, Randal and Aurora Dunluce and Michael and Sarah Gove. A vast shoal of jellyfish three miles wide and 80 feet deep has just massacred all the fish in Randal's salmon farm in Ulster.

News reports say there were 'billions' of these vicious animals off the Antrim coast, and in Australia last month a six-yearold boy was stung to death by one. Which leading politician will take up the baton and save us all from these repulsive, menacing creatures?

Wednesday: Went to Waterstone's, Piccadilly, to interview Conrad Black using a magical machine called LongPen, which allowed him to answer questions about his new book, The Invincible Quest: The Life of Richard Milhous Nixon, and then sign copies from his study in Palm Beach, with the dedication and signature exactly replicated on the book in London. Invented by Margaret Atwood, it will revolutionise author signings for ever. Conrad was on splendid, bull-moose form. Staying with him and Barbara in Florida last month, my wife and I were taught a masterclass in displaying dignity, good humour, hospitality and charm under pressures that would have crushed lesser people. Such as me.

Then on to dinner with John Bolton at the Tory Philosophy Group, where he subtly plugged his excellent new book, Surrender Is Not An Option, and gently sparred with Malcolm Rifkind over Iran. …

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