I’m afraid I am utterly gripped by the Chris Huhne affair. Having missed it completely – I must have been on Mars – I got a crash course a couple of days ago when I picked up a copy of the Daily Telegraph. What a switchback ride the whole thing is.
First we have the classic wriggly MP, allegedly trying to get speeding points taken off his licence. Well, that’s standard practice. Is there an MP in the country who doesn’t do a bit of Del Boy ducking and weaving when he has a spot of bother? John Prescott seemingly managed to get out of having an MOT when he was Transport Minister, for goodness’ sake. But wait a minute, who is this ‘friend’ who is so kindly taking the licence points for Hulne? Oh, his loyal wife. Well, again, the loyal wifey is a stock political figure, from the ‘fragrant’ Mary Archer turning a blind eye to goodness knows what, to Hilary Clinton paying off those who accused her husband Bill of sexual harrassment. And yes, there’s Hulne’s loyal wife again, stepping up when he is disqualified from driving for three months. She gamely taxis him everywhere, even though she is hardly a stay at home mum, being Chief Economic Adviser to the Department of Trade.
But then it comes out, about a year ago, that Huhne, all this time, has been having an affair with his former press aide. This being the Telegraph, mention is made of the fact that his lover is bisexual and had been in a civil partnership. Suddenly, loyal wifey is most definitely not standing by her man any more. Barely a week after news breaks of the affair, she has filed for divorce. Then it trickles out about the speeding points.
And now, it turns out, there is cast-iron proof that Huhne’s wife could not have been driving the car and getting the speeding tickets at the crucial moment. Instead of driving her husband home from the airport, where he had just landed, she had another engagement. Not in front of the telly with a take-away, but at the London School of Economics with a host of the great and good all verifying her presence.
It looks as though the ‘estranged wife’ as the Telegraph insists on calling Vicky Pryce, has got her husband bang to rights. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not. Obviously he shouldn’t be telling public lies. And she is still clearly furious with him for the public humiliation of his affair. I understand and I agree. But I do feel grubby, having been dragged through the low points of their marriage. I could have turned the page quickly. I didn’t. It was too gripping, and life is quiet here in Dulwich. Well, apart from the builders.
The only thing I do know is that I won’t be reading the Telegraph again for a while. I used to work there, many moons ago, and a very jolly place it was too. I’m sure it is still. But having read it, I need a shower. The main news section is 30 or so pages long, and included stories on bondage pornography, a serial killer cutting off women’s hair, rape, sexual assault, infidelity, injunctions, blackmail and a woman murdered and stuffed in a freezer by her boyfriend. Do all men hate women? Do all men lie? Are all men unfaithful? In the real world, I don’t know, but in Telegraphland, the answer is a resounding yes. Well, I won’t be going there again in a hurry.
In the meantime, did Chris Huhne really get his wife to take his speeding points for him? His defence, so far, seems to be that he can’t remember what he was doing that day. If he manages to get off, I predict there won’t be a man in the country with a functioning memory from now on.