Matthew Norman: Who are we to demonise a man who inspires such loyalty?

If Liam Fox became a manager at McDonald's, Adam Werritty would pop up asking, 'Fries with that?'

Share
Related Topics

I wish I had a friend like Adam Werritty. I do have friends, as it happens, and I am devoted to them as I hope they are fond of me. We phone and email and text, and meet up now and then to natter about children, X-Factor, the horrors of rampaging middle age or whatever. We console each other through the bad times and share the joy in the... but perhaps, having friends yourselves, you need no tuition on the rites of friendship.

Anyway, had you asked me a few days ago, I'd have told you that my friends were one of the best things in my life, and that I wouldn't change them for the world. Then along came Adam Werritty to redefine the nature of friendship, or at least raise the friendship bar to an unreachable zenith, and now I want to sack the bleeding lot of them.

This is why I resent Dr Liam Fox, who at the time of writing remains Defence Secretary, though this is ridiculously unfair. Is he to be demonised for being the kind of chap who inspires a level of devotion that beggars belief? When loyalty, the platinum of human resources, is among the scarcest and most precious commodities known to humanity?

I saw Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy the other night, and it shouldn't be an outrageous spoiler to report that there wasn't much loyalty about in the early 1970s Cold War world. John Hurt's Control couldn't trust a soul except Gary Oldman's George Smiley, and he wasn't sure he could trust him. When they weren't handing state secrets to the Soviets, close friends within "the Circus" were knocking off each other's wives. Even when those close friends were also lovers, they were betraying each other at every turn.

Before we go on, I'd like to make it clear that there is no suggestion that Dr Fox and Mr Werritty were ever lovers themselves. That is what I would like to do. Alas, that very suggestion is bubbling implicitly away beneath the coverage of this curious tale as the sub-text that dare not speak its name. But it seems prissy to the point of cowardice to avoid acknowledging that when adult males share premises, as these two did before the Fox wedding at which Werritty was best man, tongues will wag.

I refer you to the episode of the medical drama House, in which Hugh Laurie's diagnostician moves in with his oncologist friend James Wilson. When the thrice divorced Wilson is shocked to discover that everyone else in the block assumes he and the equally hetero House are lovers, the latter is less so. "We're grown men who moved in together," he wearily mutters. "We're two tigers away from an act in Vegas."

Siegfried and Roy made a fortune from the White Siberians in their circus (before one tore a chunk out of Roy's neck), while former residents of Siberia enriched themselves by selling info to John Le Carré's Circus. Thankfully, however, there is no evidence that Adam Werritty made so much as a bean from his travelling circus. And what travelling there was.

On 18 occasions, we are told, he paid his own way to be at his friend's side in foreign parts. Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Florida, Bahrain, Qatar, Washington, Israel, Singapore, Sri Lanka ... almost wherever the good doctor cropped up on Government business, Adam magically materialised at his side. Sometimes he went to official meetings, at others he tagged along for the craic when the Defence Secretary dined with senior US army personnel or whomever. Never once, we are told, did he turn a profit from what Liam – in impressively precise legalistic language for a non-lawyer – referred to in the Commons as "transactional behaviour".

It is Adam's ungodly gift for self-sacrifice, in terms of time as well as money, that raises the depressing comparison with the efforts of my own friends. I too have been on Dubai soil – and even if it was only for a few hours waiting for a connecting flight, would it have killed one of them to show up at the airport to advise me on the duty-free shopping, or how to price the shoulder-held, ground-to-air missile launchers I was trying to flog to that Saudi geezer in the shades?

In Edwardian days, Adam's role was known as "paid companion", with the only crucial difference between him and the impoverished gentlewomen shackled to the imperious old trout in early Agatha Christie being that, back then, Foxy would have covered his costs for the cruises and trips to Graeco-Roman ruins. In this latter day mystery, it seems that Adam paid for all the long-haul flights and hotel rooms from his own pocket without thought of recompense.

If being an unpaid companion meant enduring tedious meetings about defence-related contracts – contracts believed, in some circumstances, to carry finder's fees for middle men running into the millions – so be it. There was nothing he wouldn't put up with to support his friend.

Had his career as conjoined twin begun when Foxy went to the MoD last year, it might look suspicious. But it began years ago when Foxy's stint shadowing health coincided with him launching a health consultancy firm. Not that such trivia as job specifications are relevant to the friendship. If Liam became a manager at McDonald's, Adam would appear in the paper hat asking, "Fries with that?". Were Liam – tired of being grudgingly tolerated by a PM nervous of offending the Tory right by sacking him from the Cabinet – to plump for the life of a Bedouin nomad, he couldn't cross ten grains of sand before Adam trotted over the nearest dune with several months' worth of fat stored in the humps on his back.

Echo and Narcissus, Butch And Sundance, Holmes and Watson, Swann & Edgar... the honours board of immortally bonded males boasts a timeless new double act this week, and it sickens the heart to watch the media scouring Liam's story for holes like so many George Smileys hunting down a Soviet mole. Be he rich man, poor man or even beggar man, Adam Werritty is no more a tinker than a soldier or sailor ... but who needs to be one of those these days to mooch into the MoD when a calling card purchased from a motorway service station machine opens the right doors?

The Cold War, with its dodgy figures lurking in reflections from opaque mirrors and trading on cheaply manufactured false personae, ended long ago.

That was then, in a distant age when national defence was all about enmity. Who that loves peace can complain when it now offers us nothing more sinister than the Platonic ideal of friendship?

React Now

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

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator - Financial Services

£32000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, inte...

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Administrator

£8000 - £10800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Supply Chain Administrator is ...

Recruitment Genius: Client IT Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client IT Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: the endless and beginningless election campaign goes up and down

John Rentoul
Zoe Sugg, aka Zoella, with her boyfriend, fellow vlogger Alfie Deyes  

What the advertising world can learn from Zoella's gang

Danny Rogers
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor