Just occasionally, as the long shadows of geriatric melancholy creep upon one, something happens that is so astonishingly comforting as to persuade one that a fairytale ending is still possible and that just maybe all will indeed live happily ever after. In this vein I was recently heard to be giving thanks to Almighty God that He had spared me long enough for me to able to behold the present double miracle of the seeming destruction in the same month of the two things I loathe most: the euro and Rupert Murdoch, both brought low by their own fatal flaws.
Is it not, I mused, incumbent on us, as bidden by the immortal Gibbon, to adore the mysterious dispensations of providence when we find that the Almighty, having thus afflicted us—no doubt for our sins—for so long, has in his infinite mercy and in a single season relented and, we must hope, spared us further suffering?
My euro-hate is simple. I see it as an evident device to impose such designer dysfunctionality on the euro-land economies as to generate successive crises which then justify demands for ever greater centralisation of power and money in the EU, until eventually a Bonapartist third empire rules on the continent as Greater France.
With Murdoch it is more serious. It is not personal. Indeed I only ever once met the man, when I was working for the no more fragrant Robert Maxwell. My dislike went further back.
Late in 1979, a good friend of mine in New York had just sat next to him at dinner. She told me that they had been discussing a leading American politician, whom I regarded as conspicuously enlightened, liberal-minded and armed with a commendably tender social conscience. “It is the aim of my life to destroy people like that,” the great press baron told my friend.
When a few weeks later it became apparent that he would shortly acquire The Times, I sent in my resignation as a contributing columnist. I have never allowed Murdoch products in my house since then.
It seems to me that most evil-doers transgress as a means to other goals—power, wealth, sex, fame, whatever. But to want to destroy good men just and precisely because they were good, is the province of Satan himself, at least the Satan of Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Perhaps, I realised, if it could be shown that all good men were really hypocrites, liars, in bed with their secretaries or otherwise disgraced, then by parity of reasoning there could be no bad men, in which case our hero was home free. Even Milton never thought of that!