16 MARCH 2002, Page 66

High life

Facts and figures


0Milan h boy, this should be great fun. I'm in Milan, for matters sartorial, and a friend has sent me an article about The Spectator, written by that pockmarked old hack, Richard Ingrams. In quick order, Ingrams writes that The Spectator (and the New Statesman) are no longer required reading, which obviously is a half-truth. He then typically accuses Lord and Lady Black as running the sainted editor's show, and that the reason Boris has 'refrained from sacking his notorious columnist Taki, a writer with the opinions of a semi-educated cab driver but one who remains a dinner companion of the Blacks, sharing their admiration for Lady Thatcher and the late Sir James Goldsmith', is on the insistence of the Blacks.

Let's take this from the top. As always, Ingrams has taken the facts and turned them around in order to suit his argument. The way I understand it, and I should know, it was Lord Black who wanted me out and Boris who kept me in. For heaven's sake, it was Conrad Black who wrote in The Spectator that I should no longer be given the platform in 'these pages to libel Israel', right there, in black and white, yet Ingrams writes the complete opposite.

Doesn't anyone check facts when this moron writes, or is the Evening Standard (where the drivel appeared) too unprofessional to do so? Where Ingrams gets it right, although that was not his intention, is when he says I have the opinions of a semieducated cab-driver. I'm afraid my opinions are those of Middle England, of those hard-working small businessmen and small home-owners who pay their taxes and obey the laws of the land. Not those of rich foreigners who bankroll Tony Blair, or those of the pseudo-elite like Ingrams whose talents lie in padding expenses and getting others to pay for their unread magazines. When I think of it, it's probably the greatest compliment I've ever had. Semi-educated English cab-drivers make eminent sense and possess great wisdom.

Oh yes, and there's another thing the pockmarked oldie got right. Of course I adore Lady Thatcher and loved Jimmy Goldsmith. What's wrong with that? Whom did he expect me to admire? That phoney Baroness Jay, or that Mittal fellow? And as for Boris being unable to fire me because I 'remain a dinner companion' of the Blacks, how would a low-lifer like Ingrams know whom I dine with? As it happens, I've dined with the Blacks twice since the Israeli imbroglio of last year, once in New York and once in Sion House, but we were both guests of others and there were another 300 people present.

Last but not least, if The Spectator is not required reading now, with its circulation at an all-time high, and facing broadsheets which are dumbing down quicker than I can say Rupert Murdoch, what the hell is?

Poor Ingrams. His has been a life of envy, spite and mendacity, one of trying to ruin people's lives under the guise of fearless journalism. Mind you, he was on the forefront of malicious writing, and for that he will be remembered — along with a large part of the British media — long after he has made his exit. For that he should thank Satan, who will be waiting for him with open fangs. In the meantime, The Speccie and I go on our merry way, selling at an all-time high, and having a wonderful time in places like Gstaad, Milan and Malta. Next week, if some Italian signorina doesn't get me. I shall be reporting on Israel, unless, of course, I get a dinner invitation from our benevolent proprietor. See you around, Ingrams, and if you're a nice boy. I'll even get you some acne cream from the land of pasta. Better yet, I'll send you a picture of my new boat.