Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

Nine years ago we moved to Herefordshire from Gloucestershire, where lovely Jilly Cooper was a neighbour. There is less bedhopping here in the Marches, fewer rakes such as Jilly's character Rupert Campbell-Blacks. Recently, however, we learned that a married friend here was having an affair, bonking away in the marital home like a bonobo monkey.

What should we do? Sometime matinee idol Hugh Grant would tell us to mind our own business. Broadsheet columnist Joan Smith on Monday assured the Leveson Inquiry that 21st-century Britain is laid back about marital collapse. Speak for yourself, Joan. I take the view that marriage is a public estate, declarations of love being exchanged in front of the community. It is factually incorrect to say that marriage is completely private.

The Grant/Smith argument is rooted in selfish egalitarianism (not as oxymoronic as it might sound). My wife and I are troubled by this adultery in our circle. The cuckolded spouse does not know. We feel disloyal watching the poor soul go about the place. Should we discuss the scandal with other friends? Should we burden our vicar with the saga? Were there a privacy law, would we even be permitted to do so?

Although instructed almost daily by certain newspaper columnists to hate David Cameron, I cannot yet do so.

Of the five prime ministers I have seen in the Commons, Cameron is the least irritating. Thatcher was astonishing but clearly impossible. Major was Pooterishly procedural, Blair palpably fake, Brown off the wall. Cameron approaches the House in a spirit of joshing cooperation, except when ignoring Ed Miliband. Fleet Street's walruses loathe our hero none the less.

Cameron has fewer press allies than Neil Kinnock had in 1990. Anti-Cameronism boils in the leader-writing cabins like pots of goat-glue on Lucifer's stoves. It is partly generational, partly lookist: Cameron is a good-looking swine and this makes the ageing gargoyles of Grub Street liverish.

Perhaps it is suppressed homoerotic frustration. If only David, back in the days he dined with them, had told these goblins how wonderful they were. As it is, the treatment he receives is on a par with that dished out to opera singer Katherine Jenkins by her civil-servant-spinster internet stalker. …

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