Richard Ingrams’s Week: No room at the golf club for Fred 'The Shred'

Share
Related Topics

Those multi-millionaire bankers like Sir Fred "The Shred" Goodwin must be relieved by the way the media searchlight has been switched from them to members of parliament for naming and shaming purposes.

But even before the current row I was aware that Sir Fred had done a disappearing act. Normally in this situation you would expect to see a figure like that caught out by a newspaper photographer surreptitiously slinking down Princes Street in dark glasses. But in Sir Fred's case there has been nothing of the kind.

The only confirmation of his existence came a few days ago when it was reported that his application to join Scotland's famous Royal and Ancient Golf Club had been turned down on the grounds that in the eyes of the members he was "the wrong kind". They didn't like the cut of his jib in other words.

This is not the first time Goodwin has had trouble getting into a Scottish golf club. A year or two ago The Sunday Times reported that when he applied to join the posh Bruntisfield Golfing Links Society he was told that there was a 10-year waiting list and that he would have to wait his turn. The reply was the traditional, "Do you realise who I am?" The secretary said he did.

Sir Fred later launched a libel action, claiming damages of £15,000 against the paper but withdrew it after the story was confirmed by a key witness.

Now rebuffed by a second club, Goodwin may well decide to follow my earlier advice in this column and go and live abroad. Or perhaps he has already chosen to do so which would explain why we haven't been seeing him around the place.

Is it only now that we despise MPs?

It was my great friend Auberon Waugh who decreed that "anybody who puts themselves forward to be elected as an MP must have some social or emotional inadequacy which requires this form of compensation".

I suspect that a great many people share that view, or at least I hope so. And I hope therefore that all this talk about the nation being shocked and appalled by the latest revelations about our MPs is misplaced. The way some people go on you'd think that the whole of our democratic system was in peril.

One does not want to poo-poo the disclosures about MPs' expenses – only to get them into perspective, which is why it is dangerous for people to pretend that up until a week or so ago they regarded MPs as devoted and upright public servants whose only aim was selflessly to serve the community.

While not going quite as far as Bron Waugh, who in any case was, as so often, overstating the case, I have always thought of MPs as a fairly disreputable bunch of human beings redeemed, to some extent, by the presence in their midst of a number of outstanding figures genuinely concerned with the welfare of their fellow human beings. Such MPs exist in every party and are distinguished by the fact that they are hardly ever selected for high office.

The same is true of other institutions like, for example, the Church of England, where most of the priests and bishops are second-rate time-servers but the presence of a small band of saintly figures manages to persuade the faithful that all is not lost.

Scott-James was ahead of her time, in the garden and on Fleet Street

I owe a great debt to my one-time neighbour Anne Scott-James who has died at the ripe old age of 96. Because it was she who first made me interested in gardening.

Although Anne was a famous Fleet Street figure in her day – an early version of the lady columnists who nowadays proliferate, (she is pictured in a bar in 1941), her greatest talent was as a gardener and it was thanks to her that I was introduced not just to flowers but to the books of the great gardeners like Vita Sackville-West, Christopher Lloyd and Marjorie Fish.

Ahead of her time she liked having semi-wild flowers like hellebores, tansy and sweet rocket, and I still have specimens which must be descendants of the ones she gave me all those years ago.

Anne and her second husband, the famous cartoonist Osbert Lancaster, made an incongruous couple. She was so tall and elegant. He was short and sturdy with a loud sports jacket and bristling moustache. Following his death in 1986 I assumed she would retire to her country cottage but she didn't and it was sold and the beautiful little garden she had created was destroyed.

In spite of their very different temperaments, Anne was devoted to Osbert, and after he died used to write long letters to him telling him all her news.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Purchasers

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Vehicle Inspectors / Pu...

Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Broker / Purchaser

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Call Centre Manager - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative online car purc...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Greece debt crisis: The EU risks emboldening Spaniards, or betraying the ideal of democracy

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson Charlotte McDonald-Gibson
A memorial dedicated to the 52 people that were killed during the 7/7 terror attacks in London is cleaned in London's Hyde Park  

7/7 bombings: We cannot opt out of this fight, hoping that if we hide terrorism will leave us alone

Liz Kendall
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate