Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life

Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life

Article excerpt

Theresa May must have been a little disappointed. Her government limousine rolled silently to a halt at the rear entrance to the Savoy hotel, she got out, and the only people around to witness her latest fashion statement were a top-hatted doorman and your Low life correspondent having a fag. She was again wearing what the Daily Mail describes as her 'zany, patterned' coat. I confided to the doorman how upset I was that she wasn't wearing those shiny, over-the-knee S&M boots. Something about the doorman suggested a vast and perhaps dangerous hinterland that only a top hat and Regency-style coat could keep from spilling out into everyday life. He expressed agreement by distending his eyeballs and giving a discreet little spasm of ecstasy.

Theresa May came legging it up the steps and went in. 'Here comes Boris,' said the doorman, affectionately, out of the side of his mouth, like a soldier on parade as a beloved general hoves into view. Boris came cycling up, last to arrive, offered me his paw with stage deference, handed the doorman his bike, and went in. Together we silently studied the Mayor of London's famous appendage.

It's a Marin, for those who know their Californian cycle manufacturers. The battleship-grey paint has either seen better days or a second coat of grey has been artfully applied to make the bike look unappealing to opportunist thieves. A battered old front light was loosely attached to the handlebar with frayed strips of Sellotape.

The doorman carried it inside.

I followed.

The Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year awards were held in the ballroom at the Savoy.

I found my name on the list and went to look for table three.

I once went on holiday to Palermo in Sicily. The highlight of the week, by a long chalk, was a visit to the catacombs of a nearby Capuchin monastery. Down in the airy vaults were hundreds of long-dead bourgeoisie Sicilians, whose corpses, incredibly, had been perfectly preserved by the dry air.

Many of them were dressed in all their finery and arranged in grotesque fully furnished tableaux, one of which was a small dinner party.

The table next door to table three recalled to my mind precisely this ghastly sight. But table three, I was relieved to observe, a mixture of hacks and politicians, looked jollier. …

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