Monthly Archives: July 2017

Vale Posgate

Posgate 14It was very sad news that my old friend Ian Posgate died last week.

Personally, I am not very good at being told what to do by people I regard as less clever than me; such instructions tend to bring out the anarchist in me. As soon as I met Ian, it became apparent that I was a mere amateur in this regard: Ian had elevated this sort of insubordination into an art form. And since Ian was markedly clever, he had plenty of grist for his mill.  It brought him considerable success, and also some hurdles.

I first came across him some 30 years ago, after his first marriage had collapsed.  He took up with my lovely friend Sally, who lived in the flat above me in Notting Hill.  Ian would cheerfully wander down to the local newsagent on a Sunday morning in pyjamas and dressing gown, delightfully oblivious to more conventional social mores. Not only was he great fun, but he had very wide interests, and we became friends. Happily, he and Sally soon got married.

It was only after I got to know him that I discovered that he was really quite famous: dubbed “Goldfinger” by the press as by far the most successful underwriter at Lloyds. His success was built in part, I think, on his whole approach to life.  He would make snap judgements about everything from politics to art, business, and people and those initial judgements were usually pretty accurate. And he would act on them.  But he was never tied down to those judgements: if his ever-sensitive nose smelled anything on the wind of change, he would promptly make the appropriate adjustments.  That being his method, he was ever keen to share intelligence with people from Continue reading

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The Real Nigger in the Woodpile

The_Nigger_in_the_WoodpileAnne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot in Devon, has been disciplined for saying, in the context of a discussion about Brexit:

Now I’m sure there will be many people who’ll challenge that, but my response and my request is look at the detail, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Now we get to the real nigger in the woodpile, which is, in two years what happens if there is no deal?

Well, the American expression “nigger in the woodpile” (meaning an important issue that is being overlooked) is somewhat antique, and probably best avoided in public speech. But it is really less offensive than many other epithets that are regularly thrown around, like imperialist pig, pakeha, bog-trotter, breeder, red-neck and Continue reading

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