Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Magazine article The Spectator

Diary

Article excerpt

It's remarkable how fast the unthinkable becomes the expected. It felt almost routine to pick up the New York Post last Sunday morning and see the front page mocked up as a wanted poster for Harvey Weinstein and the news that the NYPD is preparing to arrest him for alleged rape. Between the daily barrage of Trump's lies and excesses and the sexual harassment tsunami, America has outrage overload. The result is that all the predations, political or sexual or both, come close to drowning each other out. Already Weinstein's legal advocates are test-driving the theory that the Harvey 'pile-on' is really about Trump -- that thwarted feminist fury at the serial sexual harasser in the Oval Office has flushed out a surrogate who's even more gross. This spiel attempts to give Harvey cover that's highly unlikely to work, especially given that we now know he deployed former Mossad agents to get the skinny on which girls were talking. He'll be lucky to find work farming coconuts in Fiji.

Reading about the fall of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon reminds me of a visit in 1985 to a much kinkier former Tory defence minister, Lord Lambton, at his house near Siena when Harry and I were on holiday in Florence. After Lambton resigned in 1973 from the Heath government in the call girl scandal, he lived there in exile with his mistress, Claire Ward, whom he always referred to languidly as 'Mrs Ward'. The house, Cetinale, a historic pile that once belonged to Pope Alexander VII, was at the end of a long, lonely avenue of cypress trees. Inside, it had overtones of seediness: a fat stone cherub slung on a messy console, the shades on the lamps askew and ancient copies of the Daily Mail yellowing on the table along with books of horror stories. He told me he'd just had the pleasure of a visit from an old friend, Claus Von Bülow, accused (and acquitted) of murdering his wife. All through lunch, I could see Lambton watching me behind his dark glasses like a horny reptile. The fact that I was six months pregnant and had my husband with me seemed only to add to his perverse interest. There was a pretty blonde secretary floating around with whom he probably enjoyed recreational humiliation. After lunch, he waved goodbye gauntly from the door amid a sea of frenzied dogs.

Our Manhattan apartment is always Book Party Central. …

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