Fund Your Utopia Without Me.™

31 March 2013

He Who Wags His Finger Last?

SoRo:  I'm going to say upfront that, as a professional Hypocrisy Hater™, I am genuinely conflicted about posting this.  Darius Guppy is a society psycho and convicted criminal, but then so is most of the British press and political class...ok, well, except for the convicted part anyway; nevertheless, something in me released an exquisite gush of warmth when I read one psycho's destruction and hypocrisy-exposing of another even though there is a enormous amount of hypocrisy in the former's levelling of the latter...if that makes any sense.

Anyhoo, haters gotta hate and I gotta get my Hypocrisy Hate on...

Who Points The Finger? Darius Guppy Offers A Defence Of Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson goes head-to-head with Eddie Mair. Photo: BBC
Boris Johnson goes head-to-head with Eddie Mair. Photo: BBC

By Darius Guppy

Eddie Mair has more front than Harrods. Consider this: a member of the British Media, Mr Mair, berates another former such member, Boris Johnson, for making up quotes! What planet are you living on, Mr Mair? Making things up is what people in your profession do for a living!

The Leveson Inquiry focuses on one particular scandal – but hacking into voicemails is among the least of the crimes committed by a metier which is almost single-handedly responsible for the cultural degradation of an entire nation.

Next, Mr Johnson, a politician, is criticised for lying to another politician, Michael Howard, all the while his interviewer feigning horror and surprise. Again, Mr Mair, what brand of glue are you sniffing? That’s what politicians do. Yes, they lie. Just like journalists. And they fiddle their expenses and they pervert the course of justice and they commit perjury and they make up stories to justify invading countries and killing hundreds of thousands of people. Welcome to the real world.

And then Mr Mair attacks the Mayor of London for agreeing, when in his mid-20s, to supply a friend – me – with the address of a News of the World journalist so that the journalist in question could be given the hiding which most of us secretly admit such people deserve.

Tell me, Mr Mair, if a piece of tabloid scum wished to smear members of your family, what would you do? Cry? Report him to the Press Complaints Commission?

As we all know, Mr Johnson never provided me with any address. It is perfectly clear from the tape recording in question that he was simply placating a friend whom he considered to be letting off steam. But while this may rightly exonerate the Mayor of London, my own line has always been somewhat different – and consistent: my only regret being that I was never able to finish the job.

Likewise, the lure of no public office in the land could tempt me (unlike certain of my contemporaries) to fawn before people like the Murdochs. Individuals whose heads, in a better age, would be pinned to Traitors’ Gate.

Members of the British media should aspire to similar consistency. They may turn up their noses, for example, when journalists hack the voicemail of some celebrity using a technique known to most nine-year-olds. But did Mr Mair not consider the circumstances under which the Johnson tape was obtained? A police informer planting listening devices in someone’s home – an offence for which he was arrested. He admitted guilt, only to sell the recordings to the press at a later stage.

The methods may differ slightly. But they both constitute the same crime: illegal interception of communications. Fruit from the rotten tree.

But it is what Mr Mair did not question which reveals the moral bankruptcy both of his profession  and society itself. Tell me, Mr Mair, which do you think will cause Mr Johnson the greater difficulty on the Day of Judgement? Making up some quotes as a journalist, or the ritual humiliation of his wife and children?

The fact that this argument been raised almost nowhere illustrates the topsy-turvy, Daily Mail-like nature of the British media’s moral posturing. We have become so utterly deadened to acts of genuine immorality, so totally immune to the breaking of vows made before God, so casual in the face of constant assaults on the sacred concept of family that real crimes do not even raise an eyebrow. Such reasoning does not even enter our minds.

But should being ‘a nasty piece of work’, as Mr Mair put it, preclude Mr Johnson from high office? Not for the student of history, at least.

The largest Empire the world has ever known was created by some very rum characters indeed. Today, the Duke of Wellington (whose instincts I am convinced would have accorded very much with my own when it comes to the media) would be doing time for attempted murder in respect of his duelling. Oliver Cromwell would be on trial at the Hague for his butchering of the Irish Catholics he considered mere ‘chaff’ to his sword. Edward Longshanks ‘Hammer of the Scots’, Francis Drake, Clive of India, Cecil Rhodes — the list is endless. I can confirm from my own experience that the reincarnated spirits of such men are far more likely to be found in Wormwood Scrubs than in the Cabinet.

The plundering of half the world’s natural resources from their legitimate owners and the systematic enslavement of entire populations were not achieved by ‘nice pieces of work.’ 

Is this to advocate a return to a more brutal age? Not so much as to seek cogency from sections of a media which are nostalgic  about Britain’s ‘glorious’ past and bitter about her relegation to miserable little backwater as they see it, whilst simultaneously pointing the finger at ‘nasty pieces of work.’ 

I have never once, in any form of election, voted for clowns from my own or my parents’ generation (many of whom I have met and known) so undeserving do I consider them of endorsement. So would I make an exception in the case of Mr Johnson? 

This would depend on how much he has changed in the past couple of decades. It would depend on the extent to which he has become corrupted by a system which promotes mediocrity after mediocrity. It would depend on to what extent the types of ‘minders’ (who inevitably surround such individuals) will have reprogrammed him. 

But when it comes to the Boris Johnson of the Eighties and early Nineties I knew so dearly then the answer is: yes, I would make an exception. And for this reason alone: his capacity for original thought. 

The jokes and fun were all very well but the Boris Johnson I knew liked ideas and ideas are what we need now, more than at any time since World War II. The rest of the now prominent nonentities among our contemporaries – the politicians in particular – were simply incapable of ‘big’ or new ideas to an extent which, as a widely-travelled man, I have seen in no other society. 

It is upon ideas therefore that I suggest he focus. Not on an office to which no honour attaches nor any real power. So, too, he must cherish the mother of his children and the family God has given to him. 

A career has been made by pretending that Ian Hislop is actually funny and a general dumbing down. It is time to dumb up.

And, since I do try to be objective and 'fair and balanced'...

Darius Guppy: 'That Element Of Madness Was Always There’

Darius Guppy.
Howl of pain: Darius Guppy

Back in the spotlight this week after a bizzare defence of London Mayor Boris Johnson in 'The Spectator', Darius Guppy still courts controversy

It is a tale that could have been lifted straight from the pages of an early Evelyn Waugh novel about the “gilded youth” of the Twenties. Rich, privileged young man, clever and beautiful in equal and extraordinary measure, the star of his generation at Oxford, grows up and finds adult life a terrible let-down. While his one-time acolytes wise up and rise up to the top of the tree, he slips away embittered and disgraced to a colonial outpost, firing off the occasional diatribe against his former friends and the world’s sudden indifference to his once all‑conquering gifts. 

But this is not fiction, it is the story of Darius Guppy, erstwhile BFF of Earl Spencer and Boris Johnson, subsequently a convicted fraudster, and now living in exile with his loyal, long‑suffering wife Patricia in South Africa. It ought by most standards to be a tragedy, but there is something about 48-year-old Guppy that leaves a nasty taste in most mouths. 

In a flamboyant rant in this week’s Spectator, for example, Guppy seizes the moral high ground as if by divine right to demonise a BBC presenter who accused his former friend Boris, the Mayor of London, of being “a nasty piece of work”. And this high‑handed trashing extends not just to the journalist in question – Eddie Mair – but to every single journalist and, for good measure, every single politician. All are either “morally bankrupt” or “clowns”, arrogant language that begs the question whether Guppy could do any better, or could even be bothered to try. 

Presumably not, since he proceeds to get himself in such a tangle of righteous indignation that he ends up attacking the very man he has set out to defend, lecturing Boris Johnson to “cherish the mother of his children, and the family God has given to him”, and to rethink “a career made by pretending that Ian Hislop is actually funny”. 

There is more than a touch of David Icke-like self-delusion about the outburst. Carried away by his own oratory, Guppy appears utterly oblivious to the hypocrisy of throwing around accusations of moral bankruptcy after you’ve been caught red-handed defrauding Lloyd’s of London out of £1.8 million in a staged jewellery heist. But to Guppy, the law seems to be something that is there only to constrain lesser beings than himself. 

Perhaps that explains why he is so relaxed about pleading guilty in the same article to the charge that resurfaced in last week’s now infamous Mair televised interview with Johnson – namely that the pair planned in the early Nineties to take the law into their own hands and give a tabloid journalist “the hiding which most of us secretly admit such people deserve”. Any regrets? “Only that I was never able to finish the job,” Guppy writes. 

“The tone is very familiar to anyone who knew Darius as a young man,” says a friend of Guppy from Oxford in the mid-Eighties when he was a mainstay of the Bullingdon Club, the upper-class outfit that regarded trashing a restaurant as a rehearsal for high office. “But the high moral thing is new. What I find so sad reading it is the howl of pain that comes through so strongly, that sense of loss.” 

Had he still been in touch with London’s Mayor, Guppy wouldn’t have had to address his remarks to him in print. And he is similarly estranged from Earl Spencer, who sheltered him and his family during his brush with the law, despite Guppy’s bad behaviour in marring Spencer’s first wedding to Victoria Lockwood in 1989. 

“Darius clearly had a severe personality defect,” one of the guests recalled this week. Like everyone else who has known him in the past, she wants to remain anonymous. “You’re never quite sure what sort of revenge Darius might attempt if he feels you have crossed him.” 

Guppy’s falling out with Spencer is said to have come after he accused his friend of hitting on Mrs Guppy (a former model with a colourful professional past) while her husband was behind bars. Earl Spencer has always denied any impropriety but there ensued a gladiatorial bout of mortal combat on the front lawn that left Spencer with a broken cheekbone and bloody nose. 

Just like old times in Oxford, then. Only the world has moved on for everyone but Guppy. He begins his article by insulting Eddie Mair as having “more front than Harrods”. The choice of shop is revealing. Sainsbury’s didn’t feature in Guppy’s childhood. His father, Nicholas, was the latest in a line of monied writers and explorers, one of whom gave his surname to a fish. His mother was the Persian writer and singer Shusha, a descendant of Grand Ayatollahs and a confidante of Bob Dylan, who had left the illiberal politics of her home country for the West and who brought up her two sons as Christians. 

“She called Darius 'Duchey’ and his brother Constantine 'Cous Cous’,” remembers a contemporary who knew the family. “She used to lament, 'What can I do? My Duchey is a criminal and my Cous Cous is a saint.’ Both boys had this slightly exotic mystique, coupled with a remarkable poise and self‑confidence, but Constantine was always more laid back and hippy-ish, more like his mother.” 

Darius, on the other hand, a contemporary from Eton recalls, was “initially more strange than starry. He was an outsider and had this insecurity about wanting to fit in”. By the time he arrived at Magdalen College, Oxford, that anxiety appeared to have been buried. “He had a very powerful brain, a phenomenal memory and a very different, very passionately held view of the world,” says another former friend. “Coupled with his astonishing good looks, it gave him a god-like status.” Then she adds: “But that element of madness was always there. Tragically, it all unravelled so quickly afterwards and he ended up in prison. I don’t think he has ever recovered.” 

Guppy’s downfall was a self-inflicted wound. His unworldly father had been a “name” in the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, but in the late Eighties, like many others, was ruined when an extraordinary series of claims forced them to cover losses. When the government refused to bail out those left bankrupt, his son decided not to slog his guts out to restore the family fortunes, but to steal the money as an act of revenge. And, unheroically, it was a bungled one. The resulting insurance scam was uncovered and left him with a criminal record. 

On release in 1996, he tried initially to trade on his “posh bad-boy” reputation by penning a racey memoir, Roll the Dice. Next he tried hawking himself as an after-dinner speaker with “a James Bond lifestyle”, but found, to borrow out of context a phrase from his Spectator piece, that “real crimes do not even raise an eyebrow”. 

So he disappeared, first to Ireland and since 2004 to Cape Town in South Africa, shedding old friends and those legendary good looks en route. Today, in spite of his stated dislike of the press (“a métier which is almost single-handedly responsible for the cultural degradation of an entire nation”), he likes to turn his hand to the occasional article in praise of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran or likening bankers to counterfeiters. 

But only on his own terms. In declining an interview for this article, he was courteous to a fault: “I prefer to write essays – because the contents speak for themselves.” And cannot be challenged or tested. 

His estrangement from his Establishment friends has coincided with him embracing Islam, and he is now reported to spend a lot of time in Iran. “I am a globe-trotting man of international mystery,” he remarked tantalisingly a few years back. “I am not an arms dealer [but] put it this way, if we were to go to war with Iran, I would be in trouble.” 

Fact or fiction? Fiction, say friends unanimously. “Even at Eton he always had these mad schemes to seize a castle in Iran and raise an army,” another contemporary reflects. “There was a megalomaniac streak in him that made him believe it was possible, but I think all this talk of Evelyn Waugh and gilded youth misses the mark. Darius is more the Great Gatsby, forever trapped by his own insecurity and his past.”

If I neglected to add "terminally batshit crazy" to describe both Guppy and most of the British press and political class, my apologies.  It was a profound oversight. - Sophie


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This link even more interesting: