Thirty years ago this week my daughter was three and my son had not been born. I had left Gstaad for gloomy, strike-ridden, non-stop power cuts London, and the mother of my children was peeved at me as I had begun circling the daughter of the Belgian ambassador to the Court of St James. The Speccie was selling 7,000 copies, the New Statesman 70,000, and Jim Callaghan was asking the press what crisis they were banging on about. Oh yes, Jeffrey Bernard’s column followed mine and it was called ‘End Piece’. An appropriate name for England’s oldest and most elegantly written magazine, as it looked like curtains as far as the country was concerned.
Then Margaret Thatcher happened and most of you know the rest. It all came back as I watched The Making of the Iron Lady last week. Not the ambulance drivers blacking patients, not the bin-men letting the rubbish fill the streets, not the dockers blocking food supplies and letting them rot, but the night of her fall. I was at Harry’s Bar with Maya Even, Alistair McAlpine and Alexander Hesketh. The two men had come from the Lords. Except for Maya we were all drunk and swearing loudly against the pygmies who had brought her down. Instead of a lefty plot — after all, she was unflinching in her determination to put an end to socialism in Britain, and she had managed it — it was a Julius Caesar assassination without the daggers. I got to know Lady T after her fall. She and the great Denis used to come to Gstaad in the summer and lived just above the tennis courts of the Palace hotel. She had begun work on her memoirs. John O’Sullivan introduced us and Sir Denis asked me what the ‘cock-*****r’ business was all about. He used to have his G&T around five in the afternoon on his balcony, and watch as Nigel Armstrong and I hit endless crosscourt forehands and backhands, training for upcoming veteran tournaments. ‘First man to miss is a cock-*****r,’ one of us would yell, and we’d keep hitting until someone missed and the dreaded word would be shrieked. Sir Denis thought it rather funny.
Later on the Thatchers came to visit me, and Lady T addressed my Gstaad Symposium, refusing a speaking fee and flying in on her own. Needless to say, I am a fan and I owe her, as they say in Hollywood. She saved Britain and is hated for it by the very same people who now abuse that wonderful girl Gail Trimble for being well read, supremely intelligent and a lady. Go figure.
And speaking of tennis, by the time you read this, in Malmo, Sweden, there is a Davis Cup rubber taking place between Sweden and Israel. There is only one thing missing, the spectators. The public is not allowed a look-in because of Gaza, and fears of reprisals against Israel’s brutality in that miserable place by Swedish Muslims. In view of the fact that I am the first to denounce the criminal actions by Israel in Gaza, I should be on the side of the Malmo lefty mayor who, Solomon-like, hit the nail on the head. But I’m not. Had the Swedes not opened their gates to the Muslim hordes, perhaps the matches could have gone on with only a few placards hoisted against Israel during changeovers.
And another thing. I remember very well when my beloved South Africa, which had the strongest karate team in the world, and I include Japan in this, was not allowed to compete in any sanctioned tournament because of the government’s apartheid policies. Now I ask you: why is Israel (which openly practises apartheid) permitted to compete, in the European zone to boot, as is Saudi Arabia and other countries which not only discriminate on religious grounds, but also against half of humanity — and the good part, to boot — women?
See what I mean about hypocrisy? The creeps that lord it over us make rules according to what they fear most. Twenty-eight per cent of Malmo’s population is from the Middle East. Needless to say they will be backing Sweden against Israel, but only because it’s Israel. Otherwise they’d be for anyone but Sweden, to paraphrase Andy Murray when asked whom he was backing for the World Cup two years ago.
Mind you, there could be a silver lining. The Swedes say it’s all about security, like the powers that be in Dubai did when they banned Shahar Peer from playing there two weeks ago. Israel and the US slap the terrorist label on any group they prefer not to negotiate with for other reasons. The term terrorist has now become a proxy for the larger issues that divide America, Israel and the Arab world. The word is a joke among Arabs. Hamas is labelled a terrorist group, whereas Israel, with its actions against unarmed civilians, is not. Malmo’s decision could wake up some Likud people. There is outrage about Gaza and the West Bank settlements, and an empty stadium in Sweden might leave more of a mark on Israeli zealots than the empty condemnations of various dictatorial Arab regimes.
Given the fact that Swedes are more sports-minded than, say, Saudis, perhaps some of them will wake up also and think twice before voting in creeps who have sold the country out and flooded it with Muslims. Swedes are law-abiding but their Muslim brothers are not. Even watching the Davis Cup on television does not exclude violence. There is only one problem. Sweden will win and the brothers will go home happy.