Magazine article The Spectator

Ste E R P I K E

Magazine article The Spectator

Ste E R P I K E

Article excerpt

Many are the mysteries of the Catholic Church. The latest concerns the takings at Westminster Cathedral, which have suddenly soared by thousands of pounds a week. The priests, who for years bemoaned the stinginess of their flock, are said to be delighted by this outbreak of largesse among the faithful. They're also rather puzzled. A longrunning rumour suggested that someone close to the Cathedral was skimming the plate. The police were called in but could find no evidence of wrongdoing.

As the coffers swell, the mystery deepens.

The obituaries of Sir Stuart Bell have revealed a host of fascinating details about the twicemarried Middlesbrough MP. The 74-year-old spoke fluent French, practised law in France in the 1970s, and penned a novel suggestively entitled Paris 69. Since 2006, the Legion d'Honneur dangled proudly from his chest. His death has come as a personal blow to a charming Commons employee who sought his assistance during a crisis and begged him to help her acquire a shiny new pair of boob implants. Only recently she was inviting female colleagues in the House to road-test her new silicon rotundities with an exploratory squeeze.

'Goodness, ' I said tactfully to my informant. 'And did you "cop a feel" yourself?' 'Oh yeah, ' she said, 'but not as big a handful as Sir Stuart.'

Always a friend to those in distress, Mr Steerpike popped into the Ecuadorian embassy to present his compliments to Mr Julian Assange. The famous rape suspect is said to be feeling bored, isolated and depressed as he languishes in his deluxe broom cupboard on the fourth floor. I offered him three stimulating challenges:

a game of chess, a round of speed-backgammon, or a hacking and decryption competition. 'First one inside the Pentagon gets a packet of Smarties, ' I suggested. Outside, I chatted to a friendly bobby who disclosed that Assange had recently been favoured with a lengthy personal visitation from Yoko Ono. No wonder he's feeling bored, isolated and depressed.

Is George Osborne about to be replaced as the Tories' re-election chief? Lynton Crosby, the Australian spin-meister who helped steer Boris to two mayoral victories in London, has recently moved to the capital from his native Oz. Our paths crossed at the launch party for Arnold Schwarzenegger's new flick, and I asked him bluntly if he'd been approached to become Dave's new head of strategy. …

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