Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Article excerpt

Watching the breakdown of law and order on Monday night was an appalling experience.

It was a reminder of Berlin in the worst days of the Weimar Republic, before Hitler's grossly excessive smack of firm government. One waited in vain for some authority figure to appear on the television screen but only a mumbling police commissioner and a deeply worried female Home Secretary appeared. Nor are the holidaymakers likely to do much better when they return, because the authority of government, parliament and the police has been undermined by scandal. I have always feared that a crisis might happen while the national dirty linen was being hung out to dry. Human nature being what it is, no institution, political or financial, can survive total transparency. Too little secrecy and too few cover-ups are as dangerous as too much and too many. That is the reality: the rest is wishful thinking, and we are going to have to learn that the hard way.

At the risk of not practising what I preach, let me leak an extract headed 'Dress Code' from the minutes of Boodle's club's annual general meeting.

'The chairman mentioned a recent entertaining moment when a well-known journalist arrived for lunch in the coffee room wearing red trousers and a jacket and shirt in other colours, resembling the look of a peacock, which caused some consternation among the members present. After consultation, it was agreed not to do anything about it.' As it happened, an embarrassed porter had felt it necessary to check with the secretary before letting me in. Up yours, Mr Chairman. Better an 87-year-old peacock than a condescending young pup who is too young to remember that I, too, was once a member of Boodle's, in the great days when Ian Fleming took refuge there to escape his wife's highbrow luncheons.

I have been reading a novel, King of the Badgers, which includes such unseemly anatomical accounts of group homosexual orgies between strangers that anyone might be justified in supposing that the author must be a homophobe, determined to poison public opinion. Not at all. The author, Philip Hensher, is a writer and critic of great distinction, and himself gay. Yet here he is, piling it on. 'They would still be talking about tonight in a year or two. Adam and Phil and Mick and Andy and others, almost crushing each other in their eagerness, were passing nipple and cock and Mauro's open lips from mouth to mouth, passing his arse from finger to cock to mouth to clenched and arrowed hand, filling, grazing, flicking, biting and stuffing. …

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