Sunday 22 June 1997
With Flat Earth's mind turning towards Hong Kong, where the column will be next week, it has been hard not to view contemporaneous events from a Chinese perspective. Such as the Tory leadership election, which Peking would have organised much better.
The Chinese like to point out that nobody elected Chris Patten, while his successor in charge of Hong Kong, Tung Chee-hwa, was chosen from a slate of three candidates by a selection committee of 400. That is obviously more than twice as democratic as the paltry collection of 164 MPs who came up with William Hague. (Tory leaders simply used to emerge, of course, just like Chinese leaders, but times have moved on.)
To the Chinese mind, you wouldn't have had all this messy manoeuvring which has left the Tory party in such disarray, but what can you expect when you leave things to the voters? Much simpler to select all the members of the selection committee yourself, then make sure they are in no doubt which way to vote.
Ken Clarke would have realised that a generation change was wanted when more than half the committee nominated his rival as a candidate for the leadership. As it was he wasted everyone's time by going into the final round, and had to be punished for the party's loss of face by not being given a Shadow Cabinet job, as all the other puppet candidates were. It's much easier to understand these things when you have a grasp of Marxist- Leninist-Mao Tse-tung Thought.
Things to do in Denver: judging by the welcome packs sent to participants in this weekend's Summit of the Eight, you wouldn't miss much by being dead.
Top of the "travel and entertainment" section is Cherry Creek shopping centre, described as Colorado's "top tourist spot". Er, isn't the Grand Canyon also in Colorado? Anyway, if Cherry Creek doesn't appeal, you could always try the VIP behind-the-scenes tour of Denver airport, brought to you by United Airlines, or a bus tour of the "fragile tundra environment" of Mount Evans.
One unenthusiastic summit-goer who clearly had her eye on other amusements in the "Mile-High City" wanted to know: "If you misbehave in Denver, does that make you a member of the Mile-High Club?" I don't think so, but here is a thought for all you summiteers as you doze off in Denver - next year you'll be in Birmingham!
If you want to insult a flic in Paris (not a course I would advise), don't comment on the smallness of his brain or private parts, but of his salary. We owe this insight to the French football star, Patrice Loko, who lived up to his name outside a Paris nightclub, kicking cars, spitting at police and exposing himself to a policewoman.
One officer told the court that Loko abused them, boasted that high-placed friends would soon spring him, and compared his huge income to their pittances. "In 18 years as a policeman," he complained, "I had never been so insulted. I could not sleep for two days."
Le pauvre! Since reading this, I myself have been unable to sleep for thinking of the hurt to his feelings.
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