19 DECEMBER 1992, Page 44


Auberon Waugh attempts to prove

that the past 12 months have been nothing more than a bizarre game of consequences


The year 1991 was an annus mirabilLs, end- ing, as it did, with an object purporting to be the corpse of Robert Maxwell, miracu- lously spotted in a search area covering 6,400 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, being winched aboard a helicopter and buried with great haste on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives. Mrs Maxwell, the widow- apparent, wins an injunction in Paris for- bidding publication of photographs of the alleged cadaver on an autopsy slab.

It seems inconceivable that any corpse could be recovered in such a way or so soon, large as Maxwell undoubtedly was.

They might have fished out the remains of a small white whale or large shark, or, as many suspect, he might have been mur- dered by MI6 who then handed over the body, suitably rearranged. Against this last theory is the fact that Maxwell was hetero- sexual. Generally speaking. MI6 murder only their own kind.

Maxwell's newspaper, the European, has been rescued by some twins nobody has ever heard of called Barclay — no relation, I hope, to my bank. British beef destined for starving Russia has been held up in St Petersburg by health officials, concerned that it might be infected with mad cow dis-

ease. Mr Yeltsin announces an end to sub- sidised food in Russia, and I resolve to avert my eyes from the former Soviet Union for a period of five years. Gerald Ratner, the high street jeweller, describes some of his merchandise as 'crap' — obvi- ously destined to be a key word which will reverberate through the year. I wonder how long before it is used in public by a member of the royal family. The vicar of St Saviour, Hampstead, is found strangled by a metal collar after chaining himself to a four-poster bed. We hear much of the hazards a coal-miner faces. . .


As politicians grow aware of an approach- ing election, John Major produces a footling plan for a Citizen's Charter. He also awards 1.3 million public servants a substantial pay rise and announces that the end of the recession is in sight. Howev- er, massive job cuts at Lloyds, NatWest, British Telecom and Jaguar suggest it is getting worse. Paddy Pantsdown wins con- siderable popularity for himself by admit- ting to an affair with his secretary. Bill Clinton, Democrat contender, denies an affair with Gennifer Flowers but no one believes him, and Mike Tyson, the boxer, is convicted of raping a Miss Black Ameri- ca contestant, although obviously inno- cent. Mr Yeltsin announces that Russian nuclear missiles are no longer targeted on US cities, and a woman is appointed Director of Public Prosecutions, joining another member of her sex appointed head of MI5. John Sparrow dies at 85, Angela Carter at 51. The good news is that a bill to ban fox-hunting is defeated by 12 votes on St Valentine's Day, revealing 28 anti-hunting stinkers in the Tory ranks, many of them from Essex.


A new law comes into force, inspired by an action group called Parents Against Tobacco and entitled Young Persons (Pro- tection from Tobacco) Act 1991, increas- ing the fine for selling single or loose cigarettes to an adult, from £400 to £1,000.

Labour, finding itself five points ahead of the Government in the opinion polls, pro- poses an extra 9p in the pound levy on incomes over £21,000 for National Insur- ance, and a 50 per cent rate on earnings over £36,375. The Government, faced by declining popularity, promises a National Lottery and predicts public sector borrow- ing of at least £28 billion next year. Mass starvation is predicted throughout southern Africa as a result of drought. Alan Amos, Tory MP for Hexham, resigns after being found in a homosexual situation on Hamp- stead Heath. His Liberal Democrat oppo- nent announces that he is homosexual, too. Buckingham Palace confirms the Daily Mail's story that the Yorks are to separate after five years' marriage, and Punch announces its closure after 151 years of feeble jokes. A belated and disastrous attempt to attract young readers seems the most likely explanation.


Tories win the election with an overall majority of 21, but in this fourth term it is

noticed that State-educated Tory MPs now outnumber ordinary members, and many of them show alarmingly few human charac- teristics. Only 19 of the 28 Tory stinkers who wanted to ban hunting are left, but nobody knows where the new subhumans stand. John Taylor, the Conservatives' only black candidate, loses Cheltenham to the Liberal Democrat. It is thought he was unsound on hunting. Chris Patten loses Bath and is sent away to govern Hong Kong. A small IRA bomb in Soho, near the offices of the Literary Review, harms no one, but a much bigger one outside the Baltic Exchange does hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of damage to all the hideous buildings in the neighbourhood. The Princess Royal starts proceedings to divorce her husband, Captain M. Phillips, and Sarajevo is said to be under siege from Serbian troops, but earnest British efforts to start a new world war are frustrated by

the fact that nobody else wishes to join in.


A monthly trade deficit of over £1 billion is announced, but the CBI suggests recovery has started and Mr Major announces it is time to get tough with the Serbs. Riots in Los Angeles leave 55 dead, 2,300 injured and 11,000 under arrest. Coventry is also given over to not for three nights, but nobody pays any attention, and female undergraduates at Somerville College, Oxford, demonstrate against the admission of men. Marlene Dietrich and Elizabeth David both die, but Betty Boothroyd is appointed the first woman Speaker and Edward Heath is awarded the Garter. Amid appalling scenes of jubilation, an Oxford jury finds that nine British soldiers killed by 'friendly fire' in the Gulf war were unlawfully killed. Douglas Hurd announces that British border controls will stay after the single European market comes into force on 1 January 1993 and elsewhere life goes on as usual: Mgr Jose- maria Escriva de Balaquer, saintly founder of Opus Dei, is beatified in St Peter's; the Archbishop of Canterbury calls for an end to the Roman Catholic ban on contracep- tion, and in Thailand the military prime minister, General Suchina Knaprayan, resigns after being publicly rebuked on television for his handling of some student disturbances by King Bhumibol, that blessed country's beloved monarch.


The annals of our own royal family enter a new and nastier phase with the publication of a life of the Princess of Wales by Andrew Morton, a popular journalist, writ- ten with the co-operation of her friends, which pours ridicule on the Prince as a man and as a husband. It is instantly seri- alised in the Sunday Times. Plucky little Denmark narrowly rejects Maastricht in a referendum, to the great delight of nearly everyone in Britain, and Mitterrand announces a referendum for France. Ross Perot, billionaire third candidate ahead of both Bush and Clinton in the polls, promises to appoint no homosexuals to positions in the White House, and to hire no adulterers. A ludicrous 'earth summit' opens in Rio de Janeiro. Mr Major attends and gives £100 million to the world's envi- ronment.


Mr Lamont admits the economy is not recovering, and will not do so for three years within the ERM. He re-affirms his loyalty to the ERM and Mr Kinnock steps down as leader of the Opposition. Lloyd's' names begin to face the losses arising from attempts to transact insurance business in the United States of America. After vice- president Dan Quayle reveals he is unable to spell 'potato', the Irish vote 2-1 in favour of Maastricht. David Mellor, Her- itage Secretary and Minister of Fun, is revealed to have dallied with an actress, Antonia de Sancha, being patriotically exposed in the gutter press for fear that it reduced his working efficiency, but Mr Major will not let him resign. Barbara Amiel marries Conrad Black, but the Gar- rick Club rejects a proposal to accept women members.


More shocks for the royal family, with release of the `squidgy' tapes — telephone conversations of a mildly compromising nature between the Princess of Wales and a young car salesman called Gilbey — and horrible photographs showing the Duchess of York cavorting with a bald American in the South of France. 'Ethnic cleansing' becomes the fashionable expression for whatever the Serbs are doing to the Mus- lims in Bosnia (Mrs — now Lady — Thatcher has called stridently for armed intervention), but nobody seems sure what to do about an army of New Age travellers which has invaded New Romsey, Hants. The Olympic Games open and close in Barcelona. Wayne Maclaren, who claims to have posed for the Marlboro action man posters, tries to draw attention to himself when dying from lung cancer, but the general feeling is that he probably caught it from a lavatory seat. President Bush denies he has had an affair with Jen- nifer FitzGerald, an aide, but David Mel- lor is so bucked by the support he has received over his fling with La Sancha that he declares he will stay in office.


The Chancellor is spending $2 billion a day to maintain the pound at the rate fixed by Mrs Thatcher at the time of joining the ERM. Interest rates soar by another 5 per cent and Mr Major cancels his visit to Expo '92 in deference to the crisis, before Lamont throws in the towel and leaves the ERM. Inflation is running at 4.4 per cent per week in Russia as France narrowly votes to accept Maastricht. Abimael Guz- man, leader of the murderous Sendero Luminoso terrorists, is taken prisoner in Peru, and Frank Bough, the broadcaster, is caught emerging from Miss Whiplash's premises by two reporters from the gutter press who have been following him around for years.


David Mellor, after further hounding by the press, finally resigns, to be succeeded by nice Peter Brooke, last heard singing '0 my darling Clementine' on the night of the massacre of seven construction workers in Omagh. Lord Tebbit is cheered to the echo at the Conservative Party Conference for making unpleasant, Essex noises at his leader. It is said that the shooting of crows is threatened by the EEC (even more than it is by our home-grown Chief Constables) and Charles Moore is appointed editor of the Sunday Telegraph. The NCB announces that 31 coal-mines will close with the loss of 30,000 jobs, but after about 150,000 idlers and welfare-scroungers have

marched through London and many back- bench MPs and peers have expressed their half-witted opinions, Mr Heseltine announces a moratorium on the closure of 24 coal-mines. George Soros, a Hungarian businessman, is revealed as the person who made £1 billion out of September's sterling crisis, and the Pope beatifies 122 martyrs of the Spanish Civil War.


Bill Clinton wins the American presidency, despite his implausible manner, dirty habits and dreadful appearance. In Britain, the case against three businessmen for alleged- ly supplying arms components to Iraq col- lapses when Mr Alan Clark, the former defence minister and Tory stinker, agrees that it had been the Government's wish that they should. Various ministers who have been prepared to suppress evidence and allow the businessmen to go to prison are left looking foolish. The French put a ban on smoking in many public places, but French farmers continue to demonstrate against Gatt and the United States threat- ens retaliatory duties on certain food imports from the EEC, notably wine. More than 19,000 businesses have gone into liq- uidation this year, and the opening of the hideous new British Library in St Pancras has been postponed indefinitely; but rather more anxiety is expressed about the Synod's vote for the ordination of women.

The Queen declares an annus honibilis when, in the middle of the tabloid cam- paign to destroy the marriage of her eldest son (citing Camilla Parker-Bowles), a fire destroys the State apartments of Windsor Castle, causing £60 million of damage. Although nice Mr Brooke immediately says that the Government will pay, the canaille demands that the Queen should pay and Mr Major dithers. In the middle of it, after pleading for moderation and good humour at a Guildhall dinner to cele- brate 40 years on the throne, the Queen lets it be known that she will pay income tax in future.


Amid riots in India, with Moslems and Hindus knocking down each other's mosques and temples as fast as they can, President Yeltsin announces the existence of a 'creeping coup' against him in Russia and calls for a referendum to establish him as dictator. The Swiss vote against joining the European Economic Area — a much looser association than EEC — and Presi- dent-elect 'Bill' Clinton of the United States announces he does not have time to see Mr Major during the latter's visit to Washington. The vanguard of a 30,000- strong US army to safeguard relief sup- plies to starving Somalia lands in Mogadishu, outnumbered ten to one by media persons in attendance. Police impose armed roadblocks in east London, claiming that this will deter IRA terrorists from driving bombs around, but the Gov- ernment awaits the successful explosion of a large bomb before risking legislation to make it legal. Mr Paul Raymond, the strip- club owner, pornographic publisher and Soho property baron, is declared the rich- est man in Britain, having outstripped the Duke of Westminster by a factor of 2:1. The Queen's annus horribilis takes two final lurches when the newly divorced Princess Royal announces her intention of going through a form of marriage in Scot- land with a young sailor called 'Tim', and the Prime Minister announces that the Prince and Princess of Wales will in future live separately, but that this will not pre- vent the Princess eventually being crowned Queen.