Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life: Jeremy Clarke

Magazine article The Spectator

Low Life: Jeremy Clarke

Article excerpt

Spectator Life 's third birthday party was a glamorous affair. It had paps, pop stars and Pippa. One went in and waiting at the top of the stairs were Spectator Life 's editor and deputy editor, super-dazzlers both, offering their cheeks to be kissed. We drank Bellinis.

There is a new economic theory which claims that people often act more irrationally than economists in particular imagine. One of its key terms is 'discounting the future', which is another way of saying that in certain circumstances people often behave as if there were no tomorrow. The Spectator Life birthday party was a bit like that. Speaking for myself, I discounted the future so comprehensively that it was a case of Everything Must Go. I woke the next morning five minutes before checkout time at the St Ermin's hotel, however, feeling pretty good all things considered.

I jumped out of bed and dressed with all haste, scooped up my personal debris from the dressing table, ran my toothbrush over my few remaining molars, checked out at the desk downstairs and returned the doorman's cheery greeting as I stepped out on to the Broadway. I walked past the 1960s modernist horror of New Scotland Yard, then passed underneath the sinister Jacob Epstein sculpture that squats on the art deco Transport for London building opposite. This piece of public art ignited such a moral panic when it was unveiled in 1929 that Epstein was obliged to file an inch and a half off the little boy's penis. I nodded my usual commiseration to the poor lad and entered St James's Park Underground station.

It was only here, amid the pre-war marble and Portland stone of the station foyer, that I noticed that I was unwell, and that I was becoming less well with each step. I marched giddily and unsteadily on, hoping it would pass, but the weakness and breathlessness increased until I had suddenly to conform to current realities and hang on to the nearest wall like a drowning man clinging to the wreckage, while looking around for somewhere away from the main thoroughfare to sit or, much preferably, lie down. Seeing nothing except walls and adamantine floor, I set off again through the foyer until I found myself back on the street where I draped myself over one of those metal barriers for diverting pedestrians to a safer crossing point. …

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