P&J Column for 29.4.13

Many leading figures in the Government went to the same school. Is that why we’re in such an Eton Mess?


This week Jesse Norman MP has been hauled over the coals for defending the fact that one public school has produced the majority of the British cabinet.  The poor chap is speaking the unvarnished truth.  As an old Etonian, I should know.

My road to Eton was a circuitous one. My father’s elder brother, Archibald, was due to inherit the Earldom, but he died very suddenly in a shooting accident.  It was a grievous loss for the family, because my Grandpa, Wellington Fawkes-Hunte, the 11th Earl, was on his deathbed at the time.  The family had gathered to support him, and – Gramps having thoughtfully timed his illness for the Glorious Twelfth – my father and Archie had gone out onto the moors to bag some grouse when it happened. 

My father did not have long to wait before becoming the Earl: Gramps passed away the next day.  Poor Papa, what a 24 hours: he had been alone with Gramps when he went, too.  With my father now the 12th Earl, I became heir presumptive, and family tradition demanded that, suitable enough as Gordonstoun had been for a minor scion of the family, it was way below my standing now. There is no doubt in my mind that Eton made me the man I am today.  Public-spirited (I employ over 50 people, many of whom come close to earning the minimum wage); indifferent to notions of class distinction (two of my younger mistresses attended the local Comp) and a leader of men at all times – apart from when I’m on the moors, where I am sure to keep all men with loaded guns in front of me, where I can see them.  Floreat Etona!  Whatever that means; I wasn’t dreadfully good at Greek.

J FERGUS LAMONT, Arts critic and author of ‘Knowledge is Power -The Top Club Story’

It was with the heaviest possible heart that I received the news this week of the dissolution of the pre-eminent musical group of the modern age. Few of you will have heard of them, their four studio albums and twelve singles having received little, if any promotion, but the cultural significance of ‘JLS’ cannot be overstated. They must be regarded as the most important musicians since Stockhausen, and I include in that assessment the transcendent ‘Singing Kettle’.

Theirs is a body of work that other artistes can only look upon in awe. Could John Lennon have crafted a song with the subtlety of  ‘She Makes Me Wanna’? Could Bob Dylan at his most politically astute have penned a pop polemic to match the post-feminist credentials of  ‘Hottest Girl In The World’?  Could Mozart himself have written a chord progression as mellifluous to the ear as the bit going into the chorus of ‘Everybody In Love’?  I doubt it.

Marvin, Ashton, Oritse and the Other One will leave a gnawing void in the cultural landscape, the only solace coming from their forthcoming final single, a retrospective Greatest Hits album and intimate and poignant arena tour. Needless to say, I’ll always remember exactly where I was when I heard of the collective’s exit from this musical mortal coil. I was in a gent’s lavatory in the Bon Accord Centre, leafing through a discarded copy of that redoubtable cultural journal, the Daily Record, when I caught sight of the dreadful revelation in the ‘Razz’ section. So distraught was I that my wails of grief rent the air and caused someone, (no doubt equally affected and struggling, like Gertrude in Hamlet, to contain their own emotions), to request my removal from the premises.  Some burly men assisted in this endeavor, rather heavy-handedly, I thought. ‘Beat Again!’ I cried, in the manner of my heroes’ debut Number One. And they did.

I wept.

‘CAVA’ KENNY CORDINER, the football pundit who goes in studs up

Anyone who knows old Kenny knows that I is no stranger to distillery matters.  In my playng days I had more than my fair share of run-ins with the powders that be – but I’ve never seen nothing like the 10 match ban what Luis Suarez got for biting that other boy.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoling violence on the football field.  Obviously, biting your opponents is not acceptable, especially with teeth the size of Suarez.  He could eat an apple through a tennis racket. But I do think it looks a bit like the FA has got it in for the fiery Ugandan.  I know how he feels.  A lot of refs treated me harshly on the pitch, and I got stitched up by the men in suites too.  One time I was in front of the panel and they says to me, they says “Kenny, you halfed Sunnybank’s winger with a late challenge.  Do you have anything to say in your defence?”  So I says to them, I says “Late?  How can you say it was late? I caught him, didn’t I?!”  They never seen the funny side and gave me a 5 game ban.  Still, I was back playing quicker than that Sunnybank winger was.