Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Article excerpt

After £4 million of taxpayer's money and eight months of celebrity handwringing (bar a few notable and worthy exceptions), democracy has finally triumphed: Leveson has got the press where many MPs have long wanted it, i. e. strapped to a chair having its teeth pulled, without anaesthetic. What was it that Laurence Olivier wanted to know?

Oh yes: 'Is it safe?' Only if you're a close personal friend of Hugh Grant, it seems. God help the rest of us. We're waiting to hear Fleet Street's response but so far, at least one publication has refused to submit to its punishment: this one. Last week's NO cover was such an overdue display of cojones, I couldn't resist tweeting a request: 'Can you please produce a poster version of that NO cover for your readers? I want to stick it in my window.' Lo and behold, the following day brought a large brown envelope, and in it a mounted proof. I am informed there are mugs in the pipeline.

That evening, it was the hub's turn to do Question Time. I was too chicken to watch. I can watch him do almost anything - select committees, speeches at conference, Leveson, the Gay Gordons - but for some reason Question Time gives me the willies. My friend Tania, who normally watches for me and emails as the action unfolds, was not answering her phone, so I had to rely on Twitter for updates. Soon, Gove was trending - but it was not entirely clear why. All the people who hate him hated him more and all the people who love him loved him more. It was hopeless. In the end I had to ring him up myself and ask him. He was just getting the train home. 'How did it go?' I said. 'Not too bad, ' he replied, and then we were cut off.

At dinner with our old friend Andrew Roberts and his super-glamorous wife Susan Gilchrist, Andrew regaled us with the intricacies of New York high society. Personally, I wouldn't have the stomach for it (by which I mean it is neither flat nor sufficiently toned), but to Andrew a high-class drawing room is a challenge every bit as thrilling as the north face of the Eiger. He is working on a new biography of Napoleon Bonaparte, a subject with which his friends all agree he has a unique affinity. He even intends to travel to St Helena by boat for added authenticity. I can't see Susan in an Empire line, though. She's more of a McQueen girl.

Have you ever been to Westfield? …

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