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Tuesday, September 22, 2015 

Where's the... oh, you get the idea.

A few years back I started to read Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty, on the back of its Booker win and the surrounding hype.  After reaching a few dozen pages in, I chucked it aside, never to touch it again.  Not because it was unreadable, quite the opposite; I just despised every single character in it, including Nick, the middle class interloper in an upper class world.

I was reminded of this reading the latest extract from Lord Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott's David Cameron biog, the source of yesterday's hilarity.  It's little wonder the Mail paid an enormous sum to serialise it, as the book seems to have written by the pair in the same breathless, isn't this horrifying and yet don't you wish you were there style the paper adopts when describing the activities of the landed gentry.  Everything about it screams Mail - from how you have to take it on trust that any thing of things described actually happened, as nothing is sourced, to the definitively tabloid quoting of an anonymous former newspaper exec, used to scenes of excess but apparently scandalised by this particular non-orgy to the point of foresight, telling a friend that "this will all end in tears".

Essentially all Ashcroft has on Dave, failing a further spectacular revelation that the Mail has oddly decided to hold back, is a third-hand story of dead pig fellatio, that the soon to be PM knew about Ashcroft's continued non-dom status earlier than was thought, and he might have been in the vicinity of drug-taking hoorays while leader of the opposition.  The Sun has already managed to one-up Ashcroft on that score by claiming both Dave 'n' Sam were at a party where drugs were being taken openly back in 2011.  Oh, and the army and the Americans respectively think that Dave's a dilettante berk and completely useless.  Neither of which is a revelation if you'd been paying attention.

Oddly, the reaction or rather lack of to the hog bonking rather proves a point.  YouGov wants us all to know that the public couldn't care less what animal our PM straddled while at uni, except plenty of them probably won't know precisely because much of the media, if not the social variety, were so coy or vague about the whole thing.  A media which only a few weeks ago couldn't get enough of the incredible allegations about mostly dead ex-politicians seemed embarrassed to broach the whole "PM fucked a dead pig's mouth" palaver, with even the Sun relegating it beneath the accusations about drugs.  The Graun itself has not commented on the book as yet, but its columnists have mainly gone with the snotty "who cares" line, preferring to concentrate on the non-dom issue.  Make sordid, questionable claims about current frontline politicians and the media will mostly belittle them; make them about plausible wrong'uns from the past and fairness goes out the window.

The other thing about the pork allegation is the rest of the book as serialised so far is remarkably dull, making up for what it lacks in rigour with Hello! style hackery.  Didja you know that Dave once got so drunk at a party he lost his phone, and that Sam can be gloriously indiscreet too?  Why, she let slip that she and Dave once got so sloshed while on holiday in Morocco that they both vommed! Crazy, mad people!  Oakeshott duly tured up on Newsnight, insisting less than convincingly that the not quite spit roast was a perfectly legitimate story to tell, while at the same time pleading for the book to be considered as a whole.  Whether it was what she signed up for or not, the incident of the PM and the sow is now the book.  Even if making Dave a laughing stock wasn't Ashcroft's main aim, apparently believing he wasn't going to be PM come publication, he knew full well what the Mail and everyone else would home in on.

Stripped of the initiation rite tale, there isn't much meat left on the skull.  Damian McBride is probably just making mischief with his own piece on how Downing Street hasn't properly denied any of it, suggesting perhaps that it could be true, but then as said, it doesn't truly matter.  Ashcroft seems to have got his revenge, the Mail has declared open season on Dave, and we've all had a giggle.  Cameron won't live it down for a while, but it's hardly wounded him fatally.

The only thing it's truly brought home is that no one cares in the slightest about politicians' use of drugs while juveniles, nor are they bothered by either their own or their representatives' hypocrisy over continuing prohibition.  Hence why the Sun pursued that line rather than join in the nation's laughter as it ordinarily would.  As for the Chipping Snorton set, if anyone was that bothered by the circles our PM moved in, they would have protested about it back in May.  Much as I might despise every single one of them, there are plenty of others who don't care in the slightest, or in fact would really like to be pals with some of the most boring and yet powerful people in the land.

Pity poor Michael Ashcroft, with all the money in the world, and yet apparently bitter about being excluded from all those amazing parties in the Cotswolds.  Still, at least he didn't acquaint himself with the front end of some ham, right?

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Probably a good call on The Line of Beauty, I read it all and everyone in it is and remains a complete shithead.

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