Frank Johnson

Of dyers, drapers, weavers and other trichological Fabrications

Of dyers, drapers, weavers and other trichological Fabrications

One day last week, the only subject of conversation among those of us employed to observe proceedings from the House of Commons gallery was the blond hair of Mr Michael Fabricant, the Conservative member for Lichfield. It had become luxuriously longer than ever before, tumbling below his rear collar so that it was the most exciting that I had seen since the demise of Jayne Mansfield, or at least since Mr (now Lord) Heseltine procured the demise of Mrs Thatcher, herself no mean contender for these compliments.

Mr Simon Hoggart wrote about Mr Fabricant’s hair in the Guardian. I, in the Daily Telegraph, did not mention it. What conclusion should be drawn from this, other than the obvious and to me painful one that if you really want to read about what people at Westminster are talking about, you should read Mr Hoggart rather than me? What I mean is: what conclusion should be drawn from the thing itself; Mr Fabricant’s hair?

Mr Hoggart’s many writings on the issue proceed from the assumption that the hair is a wig. As befits a journalist of a liberal disposition, he believes in, to modify Herbert Butterfield’s influential book of the 1930s, The Wig Interpretation of History. Dr Johnson, when he reported on Commons debates, being a Tory, said that he took care to ensure that ‘the Whig dogs did not have the best of it’. Mr Hoggart seems determined that what should not have the best of it are the dog wigs. That Mr Fabricant’s hair is a dog of a wig is the basis of Mr Hoggart’s view of the subject.

Not just Mr Hoggart’s; at afternoon tea in the gallery canteen on the day in question, that Mr Fabricant’s hair was a wig was, among my colleagues, a given. The only dispute was: a wig or a weave? Few doubted that some of the hair is Mr Fabricant’s naturally.

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