Yesterday, a friend of mine expressed a degree of shock when I passingly described the recently dead Norman St John-Stevas as 'gay' - what proof had I? I laughed. Now I see the grown-up Economist has got straight to the point in its excellent capsule obit: 'Entering politics in the 1950s, St John-Stevas had little choice but to conceal part of who he was—a gay man—albeit beneath a carapace of campness, a form of hiding in plain sight. Today four Tory government ministers are openly gay.'
The Telegraph's entertaining obit heads in the right direction but then takes a deter into nudge-nudge-land: 'He had a close friend who was a merchant banker, but claimed to be “celibate” or “chaste”.' Ah, yes.
I particularly like one reader comment in another part of the Telegraph: 'When Norman St John Stevas described himself officially as "unmarried" he was of course outing himself as homosexual. Thank God for the Telegraph giving some credit to him and revealing that he had a partner of the same sex who was a merchant banker (step forward anonymous, for Norman's sake). No doubt "everybody" knew what was going on or not going on. But trust the Guardian's Edward Pearce to manage not to include any of these important details about Norman's life in that pompous paper's purely political obituary.'
PS Malcolm Mildren tweets me: 'I believe Normski's partner in the 1970s was nicknamed Tiger.He introduced him thus in Northants.'