Fish fingers for Uncle Rupes

You need no qualifications to work in PR, merely an ability to pass the buck. It was no surprise, therefore, that my Saturday night chess soiree with the Lawsons was interrupted by the PM demanding: "The Doc lands tomorrow, can you deal?".

I've holidayed with Tebbit, speech-written for Palin, but nothing quite matches the strangeness of last weekend.

From the off I sensed things were awry when Papa Doc repeatedly referred to me as Dave - either I have put on a bundle of weight or his eyesight isn't what it was. Things deteriorated, as they always do, when Rebekah coquetted her way into the room. To be ungallant, just for a moment, Brooks is one of those ambitious redheads who assumes everyone wants to tonk her - while every man I have spoken to would, to evade her supposed charms, run screaming from the room into the folded arms of Polly Toynbee. Papa Doc, however, is not Everyman, so he carried on like Hugh Hefner with a preferred Playmate. Repulsive to behold.

And yet dinner was worse. First, Baby Doc joined us. He has the same dead eyes as Andy Coulson, yet even less going on behind them. Despite his father and boss thinking I was the prime minister, James ignored me. His call. Second, Rebekah's beau, Charlie Brooks, came to the table screaming, "Wassup!".

His wife and Baby Doc replied: "Wassup!".

“I learned that from Clarkson," continued Charlie.

“Way to go," said Baby Doc.

Papa Doc, like a wheelchair-bound grandfather on the edge of a playground, beamed. Rebekah asked for a menu, flicked through it as if it was one of her newspapers, whistled and said, "two dozen fish fingers, with a couple pureed for Uncle Rupes".

At which point I'd had enough. I thought: "Stuff 'em. Truly,. And lit a cigar. While blowing smoke in their faces, a number of things struck me. One, Papa Doc is not long for this world. A year ago he would have cut Brooks, and his son, dead. Now as he nears the end he hugs them close - for what else can he do?

Two, Baby Doc and his cronies in the media are cheap bullies and we must disassociate ourselves from them, otherwise the PM will be tarnished for ever as a second-rate Flashman. Three, the Mercutio and Tybalt in this morality play are the tabloid scourge Hugh Grant and Matthew Freud, Rupert's son-in-law and king of celeb PR.

The genesis of the "British Watergate" is not a high-level break-in but - how frightfully English - that famous chocolate cake fight between them in Annabel's. From that point it has been a battle between flighty Cavaliers with exotic lives and envy-raddled Puritans who would profit from exposing those lives.

We must be truly liberal and side with the entertainers rather than the chiders. We must banish the PR men and the Baby Docs. The question is: has Dave the balls to turn his back on his own murky past?

This article first appeared in the 18 July 2011 issue of the New Statesman, India