Mr Pepys goes to court against Grub Street

Alan Clark's Secret Court Diary 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
Monday, 15 December, London

8.30am. Am off to Royal Courts of Justice, for the opening of my case against that dreary rag, the London Evening Standard, which has been running a limp parody of my own sharp and beautifully-judged diary, under the byline of a low, hacking fellow called Peter Bradshaw. My case hinges on convincing people that this nonsense, appearing under my photograph, could be misread as my own work. I wonder how the rest of the Press will report the case. Hope no other ghastly scribblers think it amusing to parody the parody.

I cut a dashing figure in my Savile Row suit. Expecting a tedious day, I cheer myself up by taking the Jag to 97mph in The Strand, scattering a group of office workers on a zebra crossing.

10am: Arrive at the High Court, a rather "nouveau" building nothing like as grand as my own beloved Saltwood Castle. Meet Geoffrey Hobbs, my estimable QC, and an assortment of solicitors including a fetching young woman with long, dark hair. On entering Court 60, I find the public gallery packed with onlookers, admirers and others who, judging by their slovenly appearance, are members of Her Majesty's Press Corps. I also spy the wretched Bradshaw, a balding figure slumped on a bench at the back. I avoid acknowledging him, save for a slight curl of the lip.

10.30am: Hobbs, a sober fellow, begins outlining our case. He says that the Standard has failed to make clear that its column, cheekily headed Alan Clark's Secret Political Diary, is not penned by yours truly. It must be said that I would sooner cut off my right hand than stoop to writing such inferior trash. I want the diary withdrawn, and handsome damages. Hobbs recalls how the editor, Max Hastings, offered me my own column soon after I won the Kensington and Chelsea nomination. He explains to Mr Justice Lightman that I turned it down because Hastings was offering a paltry pounds 60,000 a year as recompense.

10.45am: I strike a gloriously languid pose of wounded dignity, eyes modestly cast down. Hobbs describes how, on meeting Max at the Chelsea Flower Show last summer, I asked him to pull the offending diary but he refused to play ball. I used to think Max was one of us, but now I'm not so sure. As Hobbs drones on about legal precedents, I dart a glance across at the court usher, a well-preserved redhead with a fine figure beneath her black robe.

11.40am: A succession of witnesses take the stand to declare their conviction that I, and not Bradshaw, was the author of the column. Several work for Denton Hall, my own firm of solicitors, while others are old pals, such as Bob Worcester of Mori. The Standard's QC, Peter Prescott, fancies himself as a bit of a wit. He paces around theatrically while asking questions, and affects a tone of langourous scepticism.

12.59am: Adjourn to a nearby hostelry for a thoroughly enjoyable lunch.

2pm: Charles Walker, agent for my TV and film rights, describes my Diaries as "Peypsian". Paperback copies of my notorious oeuvre are then passed around. Excellent; further sales are guaranteed. Prescott reads out the passage about the woman with the "bouncing globes" with whom I once had the good fortune to share a compartment on a train. Ah, fond memories!

3pm: Reference is made to Clive James, a vulgar Antipodean broadcaster who wrote to Bradshaw expressing his admiration for the spoof column. My gaze drifts to the public gallery, where I catch sight of an exquisite creature with rosebud lips and bedroom eyes. Was it my imagination, or did the faintest thrill of electricity pass between us?

4.30pm: Court adjourns. Look forward to crossing swords with Prescott tomorrow.