Dear Jeremy Paxman: A message to the Garrick club's latest reject from a disturbed admirer

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Indy Lifestyle Online
I reacted like most of your admirers when I heard your unfortunate news. I roared, hooted and dabbed my eyes. Then mirth gave way to bafflement. Why on earth did you want to join in the first place?

Digging about for information on gentlemen's clubs, I came across quite a funny story about a young student walking down Pall Mall in 1970 and being astonished to find a series of cabinet ministers, bishops and Cambridge professors popping out of grand, anonymous buildings. These proved to be 'curiously anachronistic' St James's clubs. Remember the tale? It was in Friends in High Places, your expose of the British establishment, and the student was you.

You also said that St James's clubs 'are no more than occasionally convenient watering holes for powerful men who are uneasy in pubs'. Granted, the Garrick isn't in St James's. But it's there in spirit.

You also found certain London dining clubs not 'sinister' but 'altogether more subtly conservative'. These clubs, you say, 'tend to emphasise those things members have in common at the expense of those things which divide. They reinforce the boundaries of what is thought changeable.'

Well put. True of the Garrick, too, I'd have thought. You have a go at the Chancellor on Newsnight and then you find yourself standing next to old Clarkey a day later at the Garrick bar, champagne tankard in paw. Now, you make a big deal about despising politicians. But at the Garrick, you'd have to mix with the blighters. Perhaps you didn't realise? Are you certain you wouldn't end up liking them? I know Sir Robin Day has not been entirely civilised by the Garrick, but why take the risk?

Your supporters in this little tussle have stressed the difference between Petrifying Paxman the People's Friend, and 'Jeremy', who's apparently a decent egg. Fred Emery found it ironic that a club founded in the name of an actor 'should judge somebody on their performance rather than their character'. And your proposer, a barrister, noted that the club was full of lawyers and actors, 'who are required to play a role in their professional lives'.

And I must say, Jeremy, that rather disturbed me. Do you mean to say it's all just an act? That as the mike's being clipped on, you say: 'I'll do a sneer after one minute twenty, then a quick pitying smile and we'll finish off with a half-stifled yawn, OK?'

Tell me it ain't so. We like to think of you as a sort of tribune of the people. But you can't be if you're in this club of theirs.

Those blackballers, you ought to thank them. You've been saved from a bad idea. Thanks to them, you won't have to hurriedly whip your salmon-and-slime tie off when the interviewee turns up in his. We won't need a small, flashing knife-and-fork symbol on the screen when Garricker is speaking unto Garricker. You ought to take them out for a drink. And I'll tell you where you can take them: to a place called a public house.

(Photograph omitted)

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