Regular Arcati readers will be familiar with my interest in the life and times of Jasper Gerard. While he toiled to be liberal and enlightened at the Observer under Reichsmarshal Roger Alton (“Leck mich am arsch!”), conqueror of Iraq, I was brutal. I mocked his heroic attempts at wit, I rolled about on the carpet – in the manner of the Pink Panther’s chief inspector Charles Dreyfus (played splendidly by Herbert Lom, btw) - at the news of his humorous terrorist novel (a work-in-progress “leaked” by himself to the superior Londoners’ Diary, if memory serves). I took no prisoners as I reminded the dead wood word-grazers that he had once pretended to interview the late Sir Peter Ustinov in a foreign place when in fact he was loafing about in Wapping interviewing Sir Peter Ustinov.
But that’s all behind me now. Jasper has made landfall at the Telegraph – and how that newspaper sets him off to best advantage! He has finally found his home, his very own Neverland, where his certainties about sex, race, pikeys, clitorades (the plural of clitoris?) etc may perhaps be better understood. And I was alarmed to learn within its pages that he has suffered from a bad back almost forever. He admits to his public: “I first injured my back 15 years ago while pushing my 1968 Jaguar ... When I got home I was in such agony, I was virtually on all fours, and only male pride stopped me crying.”
In my experience Jaguars are meant to be driven, not pushed – but hush, Arcati! Not for you to reason why. The Jaguar reference instantly places him demographically in Telegraph-land; he would never have got away with such an admission at the Observer where everyone drives a Citroën. I’m sure of it. The walking about on all fours is a touch of genius: don’t all Telegraph readers prefer their doggy-woggies and horsy-worsies (I’ve just read Russell Brand’s Booky Wooky)? The only slip up here is not crying. Just as pink is now the colour of dynamism, so boo-hooing is the true mark of a man (but softly, with silent shoulder shrugs, to suggest containment of strength - none of your I-Love-Lucy wailing, bitch).
Turns out that the poor poppet has a slipped disc and it’s awfully painful. He tried everything including painkillers, osteopathy – some success there - but gradually it got better by farting around, getting up in the morning, etc, and now he solicits massages from his sainted wife who I believe is also proficient in accountancy.
“With back pain, like alcoholism, it is rash to declare oneself cured,” he writes prior to sign-off. “But for now, it seems bad backs are behind me.” Mmm, I see he hasn’t lost that sense of humour. Pity.