Tag Archives: mayor

While I was away in North Korea, they were crying and mugging in London

The startled Conservative candidate

I came home on Saturday, two days ago. My eternally-un-named friend had been staying at my place while I was away.

“A few days after you left,” she told me, “some Conservative Party canvasser for the local elections came to the door and asked if Mr Fleming was at home. I said you were in North Korea. He looked a bit startled.”

She told me the contest for London Mayor was also in full flow:

Ken Livingstone was going mental while you were away. Bursting into tears saying he would let the people down if he didn’t get elected and said the amount of tax he’s paid over the years would have been enough to have bought an aircraft carrier.

“But Paddick pointed out Ken had got away with paying less income tax than the average person because of some loophole.”

“Who’s Paddick?” I asked.

“The gay one,” she told me.

“The policeman?”

“Yes. He’s Liberal,” she added.

“I guess so,” I said.

“Some Green Party person,” she continued, “referred to someone who had come in their chauffeur-driven car and hadn’t caught taxis like ‘the rest of us’. That was rather unfortunate because a load of people in the audience had come on bicycles and this was the Green Party person implying everyone should have come in taxis.”

“This was Question Time?” I asked.

“No, I think it might have been some Mayoral debate. I could be mixing up my politics. Boris Johnson said in a newspaper he’d offer the Green person a job working on his bikes. There was something slightly embarrassing in the press about Boris, but he didn’t care. It was Ken who was going mental.”

“So Ken burst into tears on TV?” I asked.

“I think it was at the first screening of some new campaign video of his. But I was reading it all off the front pages in newsagents and supermarkets, like I do. So I don’t really know what was actually happening but you know what I think about Ken. Someone who’s managed to make something like three single mothers and he gives all the teenagers free public transport so they can go to different parts of the town and stab each other and phone each other to come along and help with the stabbing.”

I also got an e-mail from comedian Bob Slayer:

“I am gigging in Ireland this week,” he told me. “The week before last, I was in South Africa and foolishly de-climbed Table Mountain on the Wednesday. The next day, I took an economy flight home with very knackered legs. They even offered me a wheelchair when we changed planes at Dubai.

“And on the Friday I did a gig with Eddie Izzard at Pull The Other One in Herne Hill (although I went to their club in Nunhead and was late).

“After the show, I had to get on two night buses to get home and was taking the short cut across Mile End Park as I have done maybe hundreds of times… The next thing I remember is waking up the following day with a huge lump on the back of my head and feeling doolally… I assumed I had fallen over due to my wobbly Table Mountain legs.

“But I had aching ribs, a sore jaw and there were marks down my back, so I thought It must have been one hell of a fall. Then, by 2 o’clock the next afternoon, I remembered that I had been beaten up by a group of youths in the park.

“Concussion is a very odd thing, I had it numerous times when I was a jockey and I’ve had it a few times since. I am aware that it can play tricks on your mind but I am absolutely certain I was beaten up by a bunch of blokes in dresses and lipstick… Maybe I was beaten up by an Eddie Izzard vigilante squad.”

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The Prime Minister, sex, sleaze, prostitutes and Boris Johnson

A friend of mine – an Englishman in Italy – used to work for a large international conglomerate and, in the 1990s, once had to take a briefcase stuffed with cash to Rome Airport and hand it over to a civil servant. Everyone accepted that was how the wheels were greased. That was how the Italian state worked.

I also used to know someone involved with an Italian TV show which had to employ a girlfriend of now-deceased Prime Minister Bettino Craxi on their series. In fact, that underestimates her role: she actually arranged orgies for Prime Minister Craxi. My chum thought, “Ooh, now there’s a big secret I know about!” But then he discovered everyone knew about the supposed ‘scandal’ and it was almost routinely printed in Italian newspapers and magazines; everyone just accepted it. That was how the Italian state worked.

So I am a tad surprised as well as being in moral confusion about the current Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s problems.

He is immensely entertaining, which is always a bonus in my eyes. A bit like London’s current mayor Boris Johnson but with dyed hair. My heart takes flight when I hear any news item about either Boris or Silvio. I just know it’s going to be knockabout laugh-a-minute stuff.

But now Silvio is accused of having sex with an under-aged prostitute. This is not good. He faces a court case and a potential 15 years in prison. This is definitely not good.

The age of consent in Italy is generally 14, though 13-year-olds can legally have sex with partners who are less than three years older. This seems much too low to me but, if that is the law in Italy, then that is what good Italians Catholics have decided is morally acceptable. As I understand it, the girl involved in the Berlusconi case was 17 when the alleged sex took place and, while prostitution is legal in Italy – just as it is in the UK – it is illegal in Italy for a man to have sex with a prostitute under 18.

So the girl involved was three years over the general age of consent but one year under the legal age for sexual consent as a prostitute. This seems a very complicated moral quagmire within Italy, though I can see why sex with a prostitute under 18 is proscribed.

However, both Silvio and the girl totally deny sex took place. If they both deny it, then quite how evidence can be presented that it did take place I don’t know. There was a payment of £6,000 but apparently well after the alleged sex allegedly happened and Silvio and the girl both claim the payment was connected to something totally different. He also got her released from police custody in a separate incident, but that is more abuse of power than directly relevant the sex charges. It’s all a bit murky but sounds too circumstantial for a prosecution.

They could be lying through their teeth, of course, though I’m not sure why a young prostitute would not admit sex took place if she is going to become rich on selling the whole story to the media.

There is also the question in my mind of why on earth Silvio Berlsconi would have to pay for sex with a girl. Call me cynical, but the man is a billionaire, he owns a string of high-profile populist TV stations so he can get anyone he wants onto TV and he is the most powerful politician in the country! Any one of those three facts, in my experience, would mean lithe young nymphettes would be throwing themselves at him for free every day! The casting couch stretches beyond the movie business.

Heavens! Nymphettes throw themselves at impoverished comedians in dodgy basement clubs on a nightly basis let alone powerful billionaires who can get them on several national television series.

BBC News reported that Silvio Berlusconi reckons he has been in court over 2,500 times during various cases over the years. He has been accused of tax fraud, corruption, infidelity, Mafia involvement, you name it. I’m surprised he hasn’t been accused of illegally importing birds’ eggs. At least once he was accused of paying bribes on behalf of his companies at a time when no large company in Italy could operate without paying bribes. It struck me as a purely politically-motivated prosecution. That was/is how the Italian state worked/works.

Last year he was accused of being a member of an alleged secret organisation allegedly called P3 – a revival, it was said, of the infamous Masonic lodge P2 – Propaganda Due which existed from 1946 to at least 1981 and of which Silvio really was a member.

I have no idea if he is guilty or innocent of the current charges. He is certainly not an innocent man in general. And Italy – run by P2 and the Mafia from the end of the Second World War to perhaps the mid-70s – is most certainly not an innocent country.

P2 comprised prominent politicians, industrialists, bankers, journalists and military leaders, the heads of all three Italian intelligence services and even the pretender to the Italian throne. In 1977, P2 took over the influential Corriere della Sera newspaper; it was rumoured to be involved in the 1982 killing of ‘God’s banker’ Roberto Calvi, who was found hanging under Blackfriars Bridge in London, and it even had rumoured links to the 1980 bombing of Bologna railway station and the 1978 killing of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro by the heavily-infiltrated Red Brigades (allegedly because he had started to talk about NATO’s secret Gladio network).

It feels to me that Silvio is being stitched-up at the moment. He may very well be a reprehensible, ageing sleazeball, but this is a case where every fact seems to swirl in very muddied waters indeed.

It is not as if Silvio Berlusconi was running a prostitution racket, is it…

Is it?

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