Julian Pettifer's report for Panorama this week on the Mediterranean
couldn't resist the lingering lensful of naked breasts, the ogling of one bronzed contour after another or any of the other gimmicks of the dreampeddling trade he so eloquently castigated. But it was a salutory lesson in what happens when a boom runs berserk. The description of the Mediterranean as the dustbin of Europe reminded me of my fairly recent attempts to locate a lobster in any Riviera restaurant for under V. The reason, monsieur, was that pollution has killed all the lobsters in, the Mediterranean and they now have to be imported from Ireland.
Business before pleasure
Tourism is the world's biggest industry. It is probably the, world's most irieffipient and certainlyiihe most .irresponsible..1t is
a disgrace if not particularly surprising for such a ft-growins industry — that there is no international authority to curb its excesses, to ,mediate between one country and ,another in. crises of overbooking and charter, c,haOs, and above all to pressurize govern,uientS into controlling headlong developrnent before all the beautiful parts of Europe' are concreted.pyer and local cultures:' absorbed into one huge package-tour culture which will have nothing different to offer from Southend seafront. The sheer irresponsibility of individuals is staggering. There, in front of the camera, was Fred Pontin (of holiday camp fame) who bought whole stretches of Mediterranean coastline when it was still going cheap and is totally unperturbed by the prospect of a Mediterranean megalopolis stretching from Torremolinos to Turkey. 'You know me' he explained. 'I'm a businessman.' So you are, Mr Pontin, but that's no excuse.
I don't know quite what Lord Longford was expecting when he embarked on his tour of Copenhagen sex-clubs, but I was surprised to hear that he walked out after ten minutes, 'visibly shaken.' In the best interests of his self-appointed crusade he should surely have waited till the bitter end, like the younger members of his committee who found the whole thing predictably boring and unerotic. After all, he chose to subject himself to the filth in order to give his pronouncements a certain objectivity and authority. I suspect that, paradoxically, his much publicised walkout will give any subsequent utterances of his less credence among young people.
His mistake, if I may say so, was not going incognito. It was a sackful of Kroner to an old penny that the dancing ladies would make a bee-line for the famous English 'milord ' in the front row and get him involved in their antics. And so it turned cut. Lord Longford quite rightly declined to flagellate a semi-naked girl and had to disengage her whip from his neck, apparently. But he could so easily have avoided all that embarrassment, and therefore been able to form a more objective opinion.
Gone with the storm
One of the nice things about being Prime Minister is that you can invite film stars you barely know to dinner, and they will probably come. Mr Heath has every right to choose whomever he wants as dinnerguests, but there was something about the ballyhoo of publicity which surrounded Olivia de Havilland's visit to Chequers which smacked unmistakably of a public relations routine. All sorts of tricks have been used to humanize Prime Ministers' images, but their meeting ten years ago on the Queen Elizabeth sounded too much like a scene from one of Miss de Havilland's films for my taste. Perhaps it was the vision of Mr Heath clutching her to him on the dance-floor during 'the worst storm for 100 years' (well, it would have to be, wouldn't it?) or the gushing letter she wrote to him after the voyage but never sent. I don't know. But I wonder if Mr Heath would have asked her to dance if he knew that she was on the point of being legally separated from her husband just then (al though she continued to live in the same house for several years afterwards)? Judging from the press photographs Miss de Havilland is remarkably attractive for 55. And come to think of it, she's the same age as Mr Heath, near enough.
Getting their own back
It's reassuring to know that chivalry is alive and well, and that a number of our readers were willing to rush to the rescue of 'vulnerable' Princess Anne against what they interpreted (wrongly, I believe) as an attack by Tony Palmer. But without wishing to resurrect that particular issue, I can't help wondering whether people don't assume too readily that the Royal Family are defenceless.' Just because someone doesn't choose to answer back publicly doesn't mean he or she is defenceless. It is naive to believe that Buckingham Palace hasn't got its own channels of retaliation. It has.
The other assumption — which in fact does the monarchy a great disservice under the pretext of protecting it — is that Queens and Princesses are inviolate, somehow different from ordinary human beings; and that to ascribe to them functions, problems, neuroses from which none of us is immune is ' indecent ' or 'obscene.' I recall such an outcry some years ago when a magazine I was working on undertook to tell the Queen just what was wrong with her hairstyle, her make-up and her way of dressing. Confounded cheek, of course.
We are amused
A model was duly hired, the same height and shape as the Queen, a French couturiere commissioned to design new dresses and a beautician to remodel Her Majesty's face. A firm of American specialists did the photo-montage and retouching of the transparencies very efficiently, but the finished prints were impounded by the Customs on their return to England. Somehow, I forget how, the photographs found their way back to the magazine and were published in due course. There was uproar. 'Impertinent ' we were and ' obscene ' and ' un-British ' and all the unpatriotic epithets. The funny thing was that the Queen read the article in question — and was highly amused.
Out with the old penny
I can hardly wait for next week to come and bring with it the end of our old pennies and threepenny bits as legal tender. Not that I haven't still got a residue of affection for the old things. I have. The trouble is that ever since the good old days I've been carrying around four old pennies in my jacket pocket and every time I've produced one or more of them, accidentally, in payment I've had some nasty looks, as if I were trying to pass off worthless foreign coins or something. So far I've been reluctant to throw them away, telling myself that they were perfectly good currency (particularly if I could only get hold of another two). But next week I shall mark the end of an era by sending the jacket to be cleaned and leaving the pennies in it. In my experience that's an absolutely foolproof way of not getting them back. MW.J