Auberon Waugh’s Diary
From “Private Eye” 6 July 1979
The Thorpe Trial is over and we await the verdict. Judge Cantley's summing up was one of the strangest judicial performances I have ever seen. Sniggering and giggling throughout he insulted the prosecution witnesses one by one, misdirected the jury about the "impeccable" character of the defendants and urged them not to believe Mr Bessell.
I decide to dedicate my book about this dingy affair to Peter Taylor QC, Chief Counsel for the Crown, and Chief Superintendent Challes, practically the only two people who come out of it with any credit.
Towards the end of his second day's closing speech Mr Carman QC said he thought there 'might, indeed, still be a place in public life for his client, Mr Thorpe. I think there may still be a place in public life for me, too. At the next general election I may easily find myself standing not only as a Dog Lovers' candidate, but also for Law and Order and Public Safety, against Frightening and Tendencies in Public Life.
The jury is still out. Thorpe apparently spent the night in hospital in Brixton Prison with an upset stomach. Just occasionally I, too, have suffered from an upset stomach and it can be quite disagreeable, although it has never occurred to me to go to hospital for it.
The other three defendants, being of lower class, spent the night locked in a single cell with two rebarbative Negroes. Although not by nature a left-winger, I feel something about this case stirs the latent Robespierre in me.
The Verdict. Thorpe declared not guilty, as we all knew he would be. How could it have occurred to any of us for a moment that he was anything but innocent?
Speaking for myself, I think it may have been something to do with the double-breasted waistcoats he wears. At my school, prefects were allowed to wear these absurd garments as a badge of office. So many of them were hypocrites, sodomites,and criminal psychopaths that I understandably jumped to the conclusion that Jeremy Thorpe might just possibly be one, too.
Now we know otherwise, perhaps he will consider wearing more conventional clothes in the future.
from “Private Eye” 20 July 1979
At last I have decided on a name for the book. The idea came to me in a flash of inspiration while I was reading from the works of Beatrix Potter to the outdoor servants and farm labourers. I have instituted these readings in protest against the collapse of secondary education in this country, and in rehearsal for the traditional Connolly Night celebrations later this year.
This is what I read from The Tale of Mr Jeremy Fisher:
'The water was all slippy-sloppy in the larder and in the back passage. But Mr Jeremy liked getting his feet wet; nobody ever scolded him and he never caught a cold!"
Suddenly the Idea was born:
THE BACK PASSAGE
Part One: The Tale of a Flopsy Bunny
Part Two: Fierce Bad Rabbit
Part Three: Mr Jeremy Escapes
Epilogue: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
All these ideas are world copyright and anyone who plagiarises them will spend the rest of his days in a prison ceIl with three rebarbative Negroes suffering from upset stomachs.
(The book Waugh refers to is his “The Last Word: An Eye-Witness Account of the Thorpe Trial”, 1980)