12 APRIL 1975, Page 8

Spectator peregrinations

An enormous envelope has fallen through my letter box addressed to Mrs H. Wilson, 10 Vincent Square, SW1. I don't know whether it is meant to be 10 Downing Street or 14 Vincent Square where the Wilsons used to live, but I think it's extremely unlikely that the Prime Minister's wife will be availing herself of this generous offer: trendy ski clothes by Olympic skiers Davina Galica and Gina Hathorn. Anyway I'll send it on.

On the river

Having found a Boat Race launch ticket on a pavement in Oxford I felt obliged to watch this masochistic orgy for the first time at Easter. I had hoped to find myself in a boatyard of large pink and blue faces with small pink and blue caps. Instead my launch was filled with the crews' vociferous female hangers-on in Hermes scarves — one of them moaning that Fortnum's had not fixed her umbrella.

Standing on a slippery shaky steel awning at the back, ducking at Hammersmith Bridge, I had an uncomfortable feeling of speed and could only just see the oarsmen splashing around the front. When we returned to Putney the tide had risen so there was a ten-foot water jump from the pier to dry land. When it became apparent that anyone staying on the pier would eventually get wet anyway, we had a situation like the last plane out of Da Nang.

There were some brilliant variations on Walter Raleigh — like taking your trousers off, presenting them to the lady, then carrying her through the filfthy swirling water. I am glad to report that I made it along an iron railing, clambering over one or two hesitant hysterical females who were causing a bottleneck, without getting so much as a foot wet.


The Daily Mirror should have consulted me before taking on the printers' unions. I fired a broadside at them in 1967 — and sank. I had to be a member of Sogat, or Natsopa I forget which, when I was selling advertising space for the Daily Sketch. But I refused to pay 6d a week to the Labour Party or to attend their tedious mandatory meetings, delivering one or two gratuitous insults on the way. I was put on trial first by my own chapel committee, then by a higher authority and finally, when they could not decide what to do with me, by a big brother outfit of about twenty people who put me in the dock in a big room somewhere south of the river. These meetings were held at such a time in the evening that I would miss my train from Waterloo but it was much more inconvenient for them because there were more of them than there were of me.

I heard some of the finest clichés that have ever reached my ears. The management were always 'vacillitating' until the eleventh hour and the fifty-ninth minute and the fifty-ninth second when at last, brothers, they relented. And they didn't like me because they hadn't


chosen me for the job. e M Spectator last rtrial b

under way for about twenty minutes when a tiny man with an enormous brief and squeakf

°p-ta rApl rhila 9 e7n512,1e rubber soles came in and crept the length oft room to his place at the top of the table. Puttiq his brief case on the table, he sat down behind it so that he was obscured from my view. "In view of your late arrival," said the chairman, "Would you like us to recap bn proceedings?"

"I would be obliged, Mr Chairman," said voice behind the brief case. So they started au over again.

I lost my job, which had been boring n1.2 anyway, but in the meantime LordBiaggi' shaw's boys had given me hours of knockabout fun.


Following Alan Watkins's tedious, protracted. and repeated revelations about himself, Lord George-Brown, a taxi queue and his filtilY raincoat, I'd like to have a few details of raf own experiences in this area. First, the onlYd time I've exchanged pleasantries with 1,°L George-Brown at the House of Commons, i!" was having a drink on the Terrace and I wa51", a canoe on the Thames below. He made Il„vt, attempt to get into the boat. Second, I have 11 hailed a taxi for more than two years. Third, til;;' mackintosh, as I prefer to call it, very near!, reaches the ground so that my feet are kept drY• With ingenuity I can tread on it.

Chinese capitalists

Hong Kong will not fall to the domino the0,11; That is my verdict on the four-hour lunch twenty people at Gennaro's restaurant in by the Hong Kong Tourist Association. As mat Tse-tung well knows, the Chinese are the rd°S brilliant capitalists in the world. They had thei lunch because it was the end of the financia, year, and their budget had been slashed, so thu` they had to dispense with their public relatiou5 consultants and several of their own staff. If Yon can understand their economics you're a Chinaman.


The correspondence about rat-catching eats in the Field, which I mentioned last week, has taken a new turn. "A total of nine rats in one trap (three at a time) on four nights must be a record," writes W. B. Harris of Devon.

Illicit sex

b°ing a clear-out, I've found a dusty magazine called Awake which has the heading 'Illicit sex can and continues that it "places a heavy strain on the heart because of the emotional stress resulting from a guilty conscience as well anxiety over the quality of performance. A ,aPariese study showed that eight out of ten eaths that occurred during sex relations Involved illicit sex." My advice is: don't have .%.00 much of a conscience about it, particularly You are very old. Setting sun Easter week being rather quiet, it was nice to n,ave an almost continuous four-day free-load. avaoard Hispaniola II, a restaurant ship by the ,Ictoria Embankment. They were offering , s.;"ampagne and food at lunchtime and in the `vening from Tuesday to Friday. I enjoyed v/satching the sun setting on the Houses of rarliament and the sardine-like train comrnuters going across Charing Cross Bridge.

tt eal fakes _Who but an Old Harrovian advertising executive-cum-insurance salesman would open a s,11010 called 'Tomorrow's Antiques' in Cork ,treet _

centre of London's art dealers?, %

,`IPern-1Parently pleased with this contradiction in Richard Haslam-Hopwood claims that natlIY four items in his collection are genuine and bsIced me along to spot them. A glass case with :as screws stinking out seemed pretty mpentic to me but I was not fooled by the chelangelo, Leonardo, Rembrandt, Seurat or i",e Picture of Kenneth Clark dressed up as a 'orentine nobleman. But I was puzzled by sbeveral pictures inscribed, "Picasso copy by avid Stein". Were they real copies? Long-term

I am very sorry to hear that Nice Style, a group of four zany artists, is splitting up. Their last show, now on at the P.M.J. Self Gallery off Bond Street, consists of vast pictures with arrows and figures suspended in space. Three of the group are going to make movies, but the fourth, Bruce McLean, is branching out: "I'm going to make a full-length four-hour still film with sound-effects," he tells me, "I think it will take me about six years."

Hazardous life

I am getting increasingly concealed about the welfare of Christine Murphy, a cycling fanatic, who spends most of her life going around Vincent Square — though sometimes she goes to Eccleston Square or St James's Park. Her tyre shop estimates that she covers at least thirty miles a day. She has two and a half bicycles, having cannibalised one for spare parts. She has been knocked down three times at Marble Arch and was once sprawled across the road by a car door opening outside the Dorchester while she was freewheeling at speed down Park Lane. She is really scared of Land-Rovers belonging to the Department of the Environment. One of their trailers squashed her bicycle without the driver even knowing.

She started cycling when she lost her job doing social work for Westminster City Council. A difficult patient who was under her care drove her to a nervous breakdown. Now she says, "Cycling is the only thing that stops me going round the bend."

The irony is that she was once knocked down by an official limousine outside City Hall. It was her former employer, the Lord Mayor. The chauffeur hopped out and offered to repair the bicycle. I would suggest that the Lord Mayor should give her back her job. After all he might run her down again.

Lilliputian note

Suddenly at an Arab League party in the Carlton Tower Hotel I was asked by Tory MP Jonathan Aitken, "Where's the ambassador? These tiny Arab statesmen are very hard to see."