Alan Clark's Secret Court Diary: Hurrah! It's all over until the New Year

...as imagined by the Evening Standard's Peter Bradshaw who is, in turn, parodied by our own Kathy Marks
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The Independent Online
Wednesday 17 December

Saltwood 6am: I awake from a curiously pleasurable dream about Ann Widdecombe to find the grounds of my magnificent castle blanketed in three inches of snow. A terrible screeching noise pierces the air. It transpires that several of the peacocks have frozen solid overnight and Wolfgang, the hired hand, is attempting to revive them in the sauna.

London 10am: My case against the Evening Standard, and its absurd parody of my Diaries, is grinding to a close in the High Court. With a bit of luck it will be over by midday. I've arranged to meet Fatty Soames for lunch at Wilton's, where we plan to feast ourselves on Dover sole, washed down by a bottle or two of their finest Meursault.

10.30am: Geoffrey Hobbs, my QC, kicks off by complaining about the "blaze of publicity" that I have endured over the past couple of days. I have been deeply wounded by such sensational headlines as "The MP and the sex coven", he says. The red-haired court usher is weeping openly. There follows a tiresome discussion about the timetable for the rest of the proceedings, which has been thrown off kilter because Peter Prescott, the newspaper's counsel, is wanted in Singapore for another case. Judging by the standard of his suits, he'll be travelling steerage.

11.30am: Harry Coen, our expert witness, is called to testify that the presentation of the Standard's spoof diary could fool readers into believing it is written by me. The weekly column appears under a most fetching photograph of myself, but is actually penned by a young whippersnapper, Peter Bradshaw. Coen, acting editor of the Catholic Herald, is a jovial, bearded fellow who looks as if he enjoys a good lunch. At one point he refers to a picture that was published in Private Eye of Lady Thatcher "looking particularly mad". The faintest hint of a frown crosses my patrician features. I am not paying Coen a small fortune so that he can take the Divine One's name in vain.

12.30pm: I while away the time by flicking through the latest copy of Viz, a magazine which features a most humorous character called Sid the Sexist. The case is now set to run on into the afternoon. Curses!

2pm: The Standard calls Matthew Evans, chairman of Faber & Faber, who claims my literary reputation will not be harmed by Bradshaw's nonsense. Evans has the damned cheek to compare me with Jeffrey Archer, whom he describes as another author with a colourful lifestyle. I raise my eyes heavenwards and lean back so far in my seat that I almost topple over into the lap of Hobbs, who is sitting behind.

2.45pm: Next up is Donald Trelford, former Observer editor. Trelford, barely visible over the edge of the witness box, calls me a celebrity cult figure whose reputation is only enhanced by adverse publicity. That was not the case with Oscar Wilde, Mr Justice Lightman interjects. Trelford ventures the opinion that any Standard readers who have been misled about the authorship of the parodies are "not the sort of people who make literary reputations".

3.30pm: Hurrah! It's all over until New Year, when court will reconvene. I jump into the Jag and burn rubber all the way up Pall Mall. Should be able to catch Soames for the tail end of lunch.

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