Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Article excerpt

A couple of weeks ago I had lunch in the boardroom of the New Statesman, at the invitation of Cristina Odone. Despite the chairman, Geoffrey Robinson, having stated at the beginning that everything discussed was under Chatham House rules, an item appeared in the Evening Standard Diary a few days later, maintaining that I had said at the lunch that the royal family should be abolished. In fact, my argument was that this current idea of `slimming down' its Royal Highnessed members is daft; there's just as much point in having the wayward eccentric ones as there is in having the worthies. Simply look at history: the wonky royals have been as much loved as any. So we have to keep the whole lot, or consider not having any at all. And besides, as a member of the family pointed out to me last week, they are all getting on a bit. There are only two young ones - the princes - whose titles will continue in their children. So the monarch will get a slimmed-down RH family willy-nilly.

During four hours of containment in Oxford Circus at the May Day protest, one's attention couldn't help but veer from the spikies and fluffies to the phalanx of lily law surrounding us, two deep. I mean, I know that I'm getting old, but blimey, the police these days! They should all get an agent and go to Hollywood. Then at least we would know what they do. One sees about two a week on the streets, so where did this force of 6,000 spring from? Furthermore, of the several hundred around us, not one was black.

I'd had a plan to go and visit Gore Vidal in Ravello round about now, but his movements are uncertain owing to the stay of execution of Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber, who has asked Gore to witness his death. It strikes me as odd that Gore, the most humane of men, should want to see so grisly an event, but then he is first and foremost an historian, and public deaths are part of life. Years ago, I was told by a very old lady that her great-aunt had been taken by Gibbon (of the 'divine' Decline and Fall, as Noel Coward put it) to 'see' the French Revolution. They bought tickets in the Haymarket, went over by coach, and had front-row seats in the (newly renamed) Place de la Concorde. Having counted their quota of rolling heads, they were replaced by the next voyeurs. Perhaps bullfights now give the same frisson - see Petronella Wyatt's excellent column in last week's Spectator. And anyway, Gore probably wants to even the score with his old enemy Truman Capote, who witnessed the death of his In Cold Blood killer friend.

It seems that British Airways are going to get rid of the multicoloured tail-fin paintings introduced in Bob Ayling's reign. It's a pity; I've grown to like them enormously and love their mad vibrancy amid the dreary good-- taste livery of every other airline. Quite apart from the fact that BA is an ugly sound and a boring symbol - why don't we go back to romantic Imperial Airways? - it will cost another sixty million squid to change them all, a sum that will be deflected into passenger fares, I bet. American Airlines find it too expensive to paint their fleet at all. Their gleaming silver bodies look jolly smart to me.

While on the subject of logos, don't you find fcuk unfunny? It was OK when they first did it, but the joke's a bit tired. I quite see why the regulatory powers that be nixed French Connection's next try at epatement of the poorgeoisie, Kinkybugger dotcom. …

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