The French must have been jealous of our madam

Locking up Margaret MacDonald for four years seems to have more to do with spite than justice
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Here's the sort of GCSE question that would encourage more children to do A-level maths. Or sociology. It comes in two parts. One. If Concorde had to be taken out of commercial service because not enough jet-setting businessmen were prepared to pay £4,000 to fly supersonic across the Atlantic, how come hundreds or even thousands of jet-setting businessmen were prepared to pay Margaret MacDonald, the British madam sentenced to four years' imprisonment in Paris yesterday for "aggravated procurement" up to £800 an hour for an escort?

Two. Would it have been a good move for British Airways to have some sort of marketing tie-up with Mme MacDonald on the old Tesco advertising lines, ie buy one, get one free. Please use graph paper and show all your workings.

I use the word businessman advisedly because Mme MacDonald had both male and female escorts on her books. And by the way, if you believe her story (and why wouldn't you - a woman with the business acumen to take 40 per cent of her clients' fees and earn up to £100,000 a day has no need to lie) they were strictly escorts, not call girls and gigolos as the newspapers like to call them. If, said Mme MacDonald, her girls and boys fancied the clients, they'd hop into bed with them, but it wasn't included in the deal.

I like the sound of Margaret MacDonald. She reminds me of a madame I once knew who ran an escort agency in Mayfair. Her name was Tuppy Owen. I don't suppose for a moment it was her real name, and the reason I met her is because I was at the time the shopping correspondent of the Manchester Evening News. It was December and I was suggesting stocking fillers for readers. Tuppy Owen had just brought out The Sex Maniac's Diary, the perfect size for a Christmas stocking. In much the same way as the Good Housekeeping Diary has a recipe or household hint on every page, Tuppy's had advice about where to buy erotic underwear or the best hotels for dirty weekends.

Like Margaret MacDonald, Tuppy was also convent-educated. So was I, but that's another story. I was telling you about Tuppy Owen, who was that all-time literary staple, the call girl with a heart of gold. She really did have a big heart. When I met her she must have been around 30, still fabulous looking, but, she told me, fed up with being on the game. She'd been doing it for 15 years, which is why she was branching out into publishing. Right now her main ambition was to get a dating agency for dysfunctional and disabled singles off the ground.

"There are so many people out there," said Tuppy, "who for one reason or another don't get the opportunity of meeting anyone, let alone going to bed with them." So she had managed to persuade some of her call girl friends to give their services free once a week to her new group. It was like counselling, she said, only sexier.

While we were talking, I remember, she had a call from young man in Hull who said he was blind and had never actually felt what a girl feels like. Could Tuppy help? Sure, said Tuppy. Get yourself to London and I'll fix you up. The young man said he didn't have the money for a train ticket. So hitchhike, said Tuppy and call me when you get here.

"And did he?" I asked Tuppy when we met later. She made a face. "Yes," she said. He'd got a lift and she'd met him in a pub off Piccadilly. So what happened? "He was a real mess and I told him so. No wonder you've never had the chance to feel a girl - you are filthy, your hair needs washing, your teeth need cleaning. You can't help being blind but you can help being dirty. I'm not surprised girls don't fancy you."

Anyway, to cut a long story short, she took him to see her girlfriend Suki who worked in a sauna and massage parlour in Soho and after they'd clean him. Suki sorted him out. I said Tuppy had a heart of gold.

Locking up Margaret MacDonald for four years seems to me to have more to do with spite than justice. The French who jealously guard their reputation for sexual tolerance are just plain furious that an English woman is making a fortune on their patch. I have no doubt that Madame MacDonald and her escorts provide a vital social service, to say nothing of super tax to the French treasury. If she operated in London she'd probably get a Queen's Award for Industry and a life peerage. Good luck to her, say I.

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