Low life

I didn't want to talk about my cancer. But then I got to the party...

13 July 2013

9:00 AM

13 July 2013

9:00 AM

Searching the web for information about the enigmatic Bilderberg group, I came across a website called Who Controls America? It’s a simple site to navigate: you click on ‘White House’ or ‘Wall Street’ or ‘Hollywood’ and you get a list of the main players and a big colour photo of each from the neck up. (You know where I’m going already, don’t you?) Each face is identified as belonging to a particular race or, if you prefer, heritage. At the bottom of each list is a tally of the percentage of Jewish people on that list, the percentage of Jewish people in the US population at large (2 per cent, it says), and the factor by which Jews are therefore overrepresented. On the White House list, for example, 9 out of 11 of the ‘current or former senior advisers’ to President Obama are identified as Jewish. The implication being, presumably, that this overrepresentation of this minority is evidence of a world conspiracy to shaft the goyim. Leaving that aside, however, and assuming the list doesn’t disingenuously include cleaners and tea ladies, I still found the preponderance a little surprising.

Apart from the lineage of bullocks, we don’t know anything here in Devon. We don’t even pretend to know anything. So I carried my small surprise up to London last week, to this year’s very wonderful Spectator Summer ‘At Home’ party. And at the start, while I was still sober, I brought the question up in the first conversation I had, which happened to be with Mr Con Coughlin, executive foreign editor of the Daily Telegraph.

I approached the question much as I have here, by first describing the Who Controls America? website. But Con Coughlin saw where I was coming from a country mile away. Long before I’d arrived, he was smiling sadly yet lovingly at me, and shaking his head, as though I were a close brother with a sad history of schizophrenia, who, after a long and blessed period of wellness, had suddenly started complaining again that his television was bugged by the CIA.

And then a momentary darkening of the sky made us both look up at the appearance of the kindly figure of Spectator’s drinks correspondent, Mr Bruce Anderson. I have often noticed and admired how the heavyweight London journalists refuse to bother with such bourgeois niceties as greetings, handshakes or indeed preliminaries of any kind. They treat one another as ubiquities. A new arrival not seen for weeks or months is accepted complacently, as if they are reappearing after leaving the room for a minute or two.

‘Jeremy was just asking whether the Jews ran the world,’ said Con, as Bruce ‘the Beast’ Anderson hove to, puffing slightly. ‘Oh, I wish they would!’ he said, entering in seamlessly, as though he’d been handed the question on a folded piece of paper five hours before. Satisfied by these candid reactions — and slightly disappointed that humanity is apparently more anaemic than I had hoped or imagined — I got drunk.

The party was tremendous, like going to heaven. Everyone in our part of the garden was so singular and friendly, and every conversation so witty or somehow engaging, emigration to other parts wasn’t straightforward, and I relapsed into parochialism. Our bower had its own little bar, which I had patronised also last year, that is until I passed out under a nearby bush. It was the same barman. He greeted me with something approaching love and thereafter took it as both a personal and professional failure if he spotted that my tall drink — Gawd knows what he put in it — was ever less than spilling out all over the place.

And it was here (to my profoundest regret afterwards) that I broke my promise to myself not to bore anyone with my news. Coming up on the train I’d had a strong word with myself not to mention it at all costs. Vain hope. Sober I can be a model of modesty, propriety and restraint. Drunk: not so much. All too predictably there came a point in the evening when someone said, ‘How are you?’ and I replied, ‘I’ve got fucking cancer.’ I have. Prostate and spreading. Two, maybe three lymph nodes. They are going to try to zap it. It might be possible to keep it at bay for a few years yet, they say. But please. The Spectator Summer party?

And now that all sense of decorum had deserted me, I started telling everyone — friends, strangers, even the barman. First I told it bitterly, then boastfully, then hilariously. Come the end I was using it as a chat-up line. And though horribly ashamed the next day, I also felt somehow differently about my carcinoma, and inexplicably better for having told it. But it was the wrong place. And so is this! I shan’t mention it here again. I promise.

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Show comments
  • Andrew Barnes

    Well, I’m sure all we who lurk in the bowels of the coffee house and comments wish you well…

    • Badly Done Emma

      Couldn’t agree more.

  • Sean Richardson

    Jeremy, I never write comments on blogs etc. – indeed I’ve just had to register with Disqus in order to post this – but I just wanted to commiserate with you about the cancer. I’ve been reading your column since it started and sincerely hope I will continue to do so well into the future. All the best mate.

  • Redneck

    Mr Clarke

    Your news is very sad indeed, I sincerely hope the treatment is completely successful .

    Your column is a regular highlight of my week. Thank you.

  • Trevesie

    Wait, what? What did I miss? This is terrible news. What a bad start to my day in New York where I read your column every week (it is one of the remaining ties I have with The Old Country which keeps me sane out here). Fight this thing, and well soon, Jezzer.

  • O Jezza. So sorry to hear. Hope you find a way through. Every day is a miracle.

  • AlfTupperDarlin

    Very sad news and a dire warning to all non-wankers out there. Give yourself a pull. You know it makes sense.

    • Studley

      What an idiot. Did you have to comment?

  • Studley

    If you’re going to get cancer — and I’m sorry you have it — prostrate is probably the best, never mind melanoma (which is more disfiguring, my f-in-law had it) that you can get. Most prostrate cancers are cut out, killed, end of story. As usual, it’s much better to be a man than a woman. For deadly cancers, see breast and ovarian. My great-aunt was cut down by breast cancer when she was barely past 30.

  • stu4

    A refuah shelemah, Jeremy(Bilderbergers be damned; it’s a Hebrew blessing worth knowing). All of us who read you regularly have a bond with you – or think we do. Your writing is that good at conveying your fundamental decency and fellow feeling.

  • cjcellosociety

    Don’t know what to say other than you are a gifted writer and may new treatments be developed which will cure you.