18 MAY 1984, Page 7

Diary

Dr Keith Hampson always seemed to me, on the few occasions when I talked to him at Westminster, a pleasant and in- telligent man. I hope he survives his present troubles. Almost inevitably, Mr Ted Lead- bitter, the Labour MP, has raised or said he is going to raise 'security'. Mr Leadbitter is one of those members, mercifully fewer than they used to be, who cannot resist get- ting into the story when cases of this kind come up. I am sure Dr Hampson thought he was acting for the best in not telling Mr Mitchel Heseltine, whose parliamentary Private secretary he was, about the affair as soon as it happened. This was probably What government reports describe as an error

of judgment, nothing more. At least

two other Members, both Labour, have survived similar cases. One who did not, or elected not to, survive was the Member for Carmarthen, Dr Roger Thomas — an old 13.0Y of my school, incidentally. A distasteful feature of Dr Thomas's case was that, after his apprehension in a public lavatory near Swansea, the police stated that they would decide later whether to Prefer charges. Dr Hampson's case was have in this respect. Altogether I should nave thought the police had plenty of other matters with which to occupy themselves. I for fear of attracting the attentions not of "ciniosexuals, but of members of the con- stabulary masquerading as homosexuals. We live in a dangerous world. At least Dr Hampson sits for a consti- h tuency which has a proper name, heeds North West. We know where that is, toughly. The boundary changes of before the election have produced a luxury of 1,14(1 e-LiP names that mean nothing. My sees land has come off worst, as it usually °es in everything. The Commissioners eent to have been overtaken with a rush of Aberdare Welsh-language nationalism. Thus '+nerdare has been turned into Cynon ,valley, Pontypool into Torfaen, Bedwellty o IsIwyn and worst of all — for it is as historic a name as Midlothian — Ebbw Vale into Gwent. This is not true Welsh Patriotism

but its reverse. For some of us,

w

,ron.typool, like Aberavon or Llanelli thahsich have each inexplicably survived), a Poetry about it that Torfaen can never match, ithin my memory, the spectacle of the nipic 0, , winner of the Marathon entering the

)' Stadium was one to arouse ad- Mira,-

Ion awe, even pity. He was usually

tillall and undernourished and looked very t red, as well he might. Today over 20,000 (1;1,4) run over 26 miles through the streets thorldon. If they want to do such a silly int

6, t t them. But I do not see why they should be allowed to inconvenience others in a capital city, holding up the traffic and making citizens going upon their lawful oc- casions change their planned routes. if my friends and I announced our intention of holding, say, a drinking marathon one Sun- day morning in the middle of the Embank- ment we should be moved on, quite rightly. Generally the craze for fitness has got quite out of hand. The perSecution of smokers continues with acceleration. Recently, in the foyer of Sadler's Wells, a man was dashing around waving his hand to clear the air, yelling the while: 'F... ing fags, f... ing fags.' Needless to say, he was an American. Americans are the most intolerant people. I refrain from smoking cigars in restaurants, even though the proprietor may raise no ob- jection. I see no reason why I should not smoke in a separate room that is set aside by the management for coffee and pre- or post-dinner drinks. Americans will not put up even with this. They enter in their 'train- ing' shoes and track-suit 'tops', osten- tatiously opening windows, sighing heavily and waving their arms about. What an ap- palling lot they are, in public places anyway.

A good deal of mock has been made of Mr Tony Benn's tape recorder, which he uses to check the accuracy of his inter- views and any cutting of his broadcasts. But the habit is growing among ministers of tak- ing around with them human tape recorders in the form of civil servants from their press or private offices. I was recently at a newspaper lunch where the guest was Mr Patrick Jenkin. He brought with him not one but two minders from his department. These chaps uttered hardly a word but con- centrated on the browsing and sluicing while their master made light political con- versation. One of them actually had a pad on which, when he was not plying knife and fork, he took notes under the table, sometimes on it, while the talk proceeded.

He was presumably doing this in case Mr Jenkin's reflections should be misreported later on. None of the journalists was bold enough to point out that this was really a pretty poor way of carrying on. If a newspaperman behaved similarly at a ministerial lunch he would smartly be called to order. Mr Benn's tape recorder is more accurate and runs on batteries rather than wine.

Acolleague, recently returned from ccompanying Sir Geoffrey Howe to the Far East, told me he had been 'savaged by the sheep', meaning that Sir Geoffrey had mildly rebuked him for something or other. The reference was to Mr Denis Healey's description some years ago of being attacked by the present Foreign Secretary, Shadow Chancellor as he then was: 'It's like being savaged by a dead sheep.' The phrase — 'dead' is surely otiose? — is always attributed to Mr Healey. In fact it was first used by Sir Roy Welensky of lain Macleod. 'It's like being bitten by a sheep,' was what Sir Roy said, unaptly in view of Macleod's acknowledged talent for scorn. Does this matter? No, it does not, except that we may as well try to get these things right when we can.

This is the end of my stint on the Diary. It is always agreeable to write for the Spectator, turn up at its offices or meet its contributors and staff on licensed premises. But it does tend to attract a class of person that can be called the Young Fogey. I owe the term to Mr Terence Kilmartin, though he may not be its inventor. I have nothing against the Young Fogey. He is libertarian but not liberal. He is conservative but has no time for Mrs Margaret Thatcher and considers Mr Neil Kinnock the most per- sonally attractive of the present party leaders. He is a scholar of Evelyn Waugh. He tends to be coolly religious, either RC or C of E. He dislikes modern architecture. He makes a great fuss about the old Prayer Book, grammar, syntax and punctuation. He laments the difficulty of purchasing good bread, Cheddar cheese, kippers and sausages — though not beer, because the cause of good beer has been taken over by boring men with beards from the Campaign for Real Ale. He enjoys walking and travel- ling by train. He thinks the Times is not what it was and prefers the Daily Telegraph. He likes the Observer (par- ticularly Dr C. C. O'Brien) more than the Sunday Times, which stands for most things the Young Fogey detests. Mr A. N. Wilson is a Young Fogey. So is Dr John Casey. So, now 1 came to count them, are most of my friends. I am something of a Middle-aged Fogey myself. I shall have to watch it. The causes are mostly good but can become tedious to others if pressed too often and too hard.

Alan Watkins