Magazine article The Spectator

Doris Karloff and the Vampire

Magazine article The Spectator

Doris Karloff and the Vampire

Article excerpt

Strictly Ann by Ann Widdecombe Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 452, ISBN 9780297866435 An oddball. And proud to be one. Ann Widdecombe has sailed through life with the same brisk, no-nonsense style that she brings to this highly readable memoir. She attended a school where God was taught 'as a fact not a belief'. Her parents encouraged her to choose friends on the basis of 'fun and kindness' and nothing else. When she entered parliament in 1987 she suspected that her personal eccentricities would disbar her from high office while guaranteeing the loyal affection of the country at large. She embraced this fate cheerfully. Her 'Doris Karloff' tag was originated by the Labour MP Paul Flynn and she instantly adopted it as a personal signature. Having briefed a lobby correspondent over the telephone she would finish with, 'That's it. Karloff has spoken.'

While serving as a junior minister at the Home Office she was involved in an extraordinary lunchtime 'contretemps' with Frank Longford, a supporter of Myra Hindley, and Longford's daughter, Lady Antonia Fraser. Widdecombe mentioned that she had declined to meet Hindley during a recent jail visit and Longford was predictably outraged. When Lady Antonia leapt to Widdecombe's defence, Longford 'launched into a tirade' and accused his daughter of being no better than Hindley, 'because she had left her husband'. Widdecombe continues, 'I struggled to equate adultery with the murder of five innocent children.' But she adds this ironic concession. 'Theologically, Frank was doubtless right, as all sins offend Infinite Goodness.'

Occasionally one detects traces of megalomania. She never fails to record a successful speech or a minor policy victory, and she strays too readily into self-admiring guff like this: 'In 2006 I had a highly successful appearance as chairman of Have I Got News For You and was invited back again in 2007.' She calls David Cameron 'big-headed' and 'pig-headed' and she claims that at the 2005 Tory conference, 'he took a leaf from my book by walking about without notes'.

During an official visit to Rome she applied to meet Pope John Paul II. To her amazement she was granted a 20-minute private audience, 'an allocation normally reserved for heads of state'. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.