Friday, 23 November 2012
In view of recent happenings I had expected much from my next book “Lusty Ladies”. Alas it will never see the light of day. My publisher has become yet another victim of the fine mess that Cameron and his chancellor, the Laurel and Hardy of our day, have got us into.
I wrote it to show the Upper Classes did more to popularise adultery as an indoor sport than any other class, except perhaps the America military. Generals Allen and Petraeus certainly deserved the sack for losing wars but for sexual indulgence?
They, or more likely their ladies, can turn it to advantage. Ms Currie's unlikely affair with John Major earned more money for her kiss and sell memoirs (£500,000) than ever did Harriet Wilson, who earned a comparative pittance from threatening the peerage with her memoirs when the Duke of Wellington told her to publish and be damned.
You don't get many faithful husbands to the pound in Number 10 Downing Street. Churchill, according to son Randolph, slept with Ivor Novello at Leeds castle, an event he later described as musical; Lloyd George slept with practically anyone; Asquith was, according to a recent biography, a notorious groper and besotted with Venetia Stanley. Gladstone crept eerily round gas-lit London seeking street girls to save; Palmerston drove naked women in silken harness round the Cabinet Room; the Duke of Wellington cruelly abandoned his wife and numbered Napoleon’s widow amongst his harem. It is comforting that Douglas Home was far too fond of fishing to indulge. Even Lady Thatcher had her Willie.
American Presidents were even more vigorous. One, Jefferson, begat children on his black slaves; another was addicted to sex in a White House cupboard. We recall Kennedy’s energy with awe, Clinton’s with distaste and even Eisenhower was an unlikely Romeo.
An American friend Jerry Jasper, who has some expertise, enters a caveat:
“Genetic evidence indicates that SOME of Sally Hemmings’s children were fathered by some male in the Jefferson family, not necessarily by Jefferson. DNA research has shown that at least one of the children was not related to the Jeffersons. Jefferson had male cousins who visited Montecello frequently, and they were not noted for having any respect for the rights of female slaves…There were a lot of rumors about this relationship during his lifetime. A number of European visitors to Montecello were startled by the appearance of several young red-headed male ‘house servants’ who seemed white to them, and who strongly resembled Jefferson."
Power is plainly an aphrodisiac and monarchs, as research for the book has shown me, were even more promiscuous than prime ministers and presidents. Not for nothing was Edward VII known as Edward the Caresser and his dreadful namesake the Abdicated Eighth was not only a traitor to his country; he collected women with an enthusiasm which meant that no expenses were spared save that of taste.
Significantly none of these facts were known outside the participants’ circle and no-one felt they were doing anything wrong. Nowadays The Media is our Monarch and, however promiscuous its component parts, it is a Puritan. Its power, like Cromwell’s who abolished Christmas, is awesome. It can censure Crowns and make Princes apologise. The Royal Family, like politicians, is terrified of it. The Media can alter legislation, cast powerful men from office at the drop of a whim. Like the Fat Boy in Pickwick Papers, The Media “wants to make yer flesh creep, missis.”
Which is why Mrs Currie, unlike the Paramours of Power who preceded her, has altered history. Not by her actions, however vigorous, but by her timing.
Mr Major, according to the polls the least popular PM in history whose greatest gift to civilisation was thinking up the Lottery and a traffic cones Hotline, rose without trace from the Treasury, to the Foreign Office and finally to Number 10. If only she had told us then about the blue underpants how different everything would have been.
In the Gulf War Major was silent when US soldiers used earth moving equipment to bury alive 1,500 Iraqi conscripts in their trenches. Nor did he protest at the turkey shoot of thousands of Iraqi soldiers of the most timid army in recent military history as they fled home.
He was complicit when Bush the Elder shirked the ultimate test and left Saddam on his throne. Major also colluded in the shameful episode when, having encouraged the Kurds to rise against their tyrant, they were abandoned to their grisly fate. It is beyond question that because of the elder Bush and Major we are now gradually returning the East to desert.
OH DEAR, IT’S THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY
I yield to none in my admiration of Bing Crosby but the Pope and I are dreading a white Christmas. He is against the whole shebang and one with Cromwell who banned it.
The Pope has written a biography of Jesus which might seem presumptuous. In it he has a go at nativity scenes – there were no animals in the stables and no Angels sing. They talked their announcement that Christ was born and it’s the fault of people who insisted they sang to the shepherds that we are now plagued with carol singers. Curiously he is silent about Santa Claus in whom I firmly believe but the Virgin birth gets the thumbs up. Well he’d have to say that, wouldn’t he? Cost a fortune to whitewash the Sistine Chapel.
According to that font of learning “The Fenland Citizen”, it is all down to the Mesopotamians:
“Many of these traditions began with the Mesopotamian celebration of New Year. Each year as winter arrived, it was believed that chief god Marduk would do battle with the monsters of chaos.
“To assist Marduk in his struggle, the Mesopotamians held Zagmuk, the New Year’s festival that lasted for 12 days.”
I am very fond of God and dislike the way It has been bad mouthed by successive religions down the ages. I merely say that if a white Christmas is anything like the ones I used to know and only dimly remember, I will be queuing up to avoid it. I will go further. I am dreading a white Christmas with every Christmas card the Ferret writes. I even have a woolly hat, the gift of the lady in our chip shop, which I wear for Christmas shopping. It is black with a white slogan which reads “Bah Humbug”. It commemorates the fact that I formed the SAS – The Scrooge Appreciation Society.
If it's what grabs you, may your days be merry and bright. Me? I’ll settle for 'flu. Christmas is when you cannot get near a bar for teetotallers swigging Tia Maria and Baileys shandies, singing and getting drunks a bad name.
It is when you encourage children to believe an old man is going to climb down the chimney and invade their bedrooms when you have spent the year warning them to have nothing to do with strangers.
It is when the TV screens are laden with menacing prophecies about the massacres you will cause if you so much as stand next to a sherry bottle. Yet you leave out sherry by the gallon for a drunken old driver of six reindeer whose red noses show they prefer their corn in liquid form.
My hero the Daily Mirror columnist Cassandra was particularly exercised by what he called the Christmas Card Artillery. I had a friend who sent all his cards out on December 1 to make sure everyone sent him one back. My bêtes noires are the ones who time their cards to arrive on Christmas Eve when it is too late to send one back.
My favourite Christmas story is about the late news editor of The Guardian Harry Whewell, whose son Tim is the only real reporter on Newsnight.
Harry kept a canary in his office and naturally took it home for the festive season when the office was unattended. As he was leaving the newsroom an impish copy boy asked: “Where you going with that, sir?” “I am taking it home for Christmas,” Harry explained. “Oh are you? We’re having turkey.”
If you are looking for a superb Christmas gift I do commend "Figures of Speech" by John Jensen, a brilliant cartoonist. It is a collection of 101 picturesque images. If you have ever wondered what a "passing whim" or "a flimsy excuse" or a "screaming abdab" looks like you will love this book. It brings to life through witty and imaginative illustrations the curious idioms and phrases we use every day. A lighthearted look at language which you should buy early so you have a chance to look at it before you pass it on. It will make Christmas bearable. I must send the Pope a copy.