Now I really know that Mellor's a cad

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The Independent Online
OH THE AGONY of being abroad when a juicy scandal breaks] I always thought expats who made a great to-do about how they listened to the World Service and got the Independent only a day late were rather missing the point of living abroad - until I found myself strolling through Perugia a couple of weeks ago and suddenly saw the headline 'David Mellor and the actress'. Thereafter our holiday became a frantic search for English papers - and how difficult it was. The entire German press was readily available; Dutch, Spanish, Danish, even Turkish newspapers, dropped from news stands all the way from Arezzo to Assisi but English papers were astonishingly rare. Thus my knowledge of even really important developments like the holes in Michael Jackson's nose may still be patchy, but I have read enough of the David Mellor story to be 100 per cent certain the man is a bounder.

How do I know? Well leaving aside the small matter of cheating on his wife (which almost all the chaps at the Independent agree is neither here nor there), and pausing only slightly longer over the revolting stunt of getting his children and his parents-in-law to pose for the press, the absolutely conclusive proof appeared in this Wednesday's Mail. It was a picture showing David Mellor sitting comfortably beneath an awning at Euro Disney (on a freebie, needless to say) while his wife and children queued in 90 degree heat to go on Big Thunder Mountain. The average length of those queues is about an hour. Quel cad.

I find it worrying that he is John Major's best friend. I've never liked those photos of him and Major together at Chelsea football matches. There is something hideously self-conscious about middle-aged men wanting to join the lads at football matches. I mean they're not exactly going to unfurl Union Jacks or wave giant inflatable bananas or sing 'Blue is the Colour' are they? But maybe this is what Mr Major has in mind when he talks of a classless society - a bit of standing around at football matches - rather than doing something really classless like abolishing the honours system or the House of Lords. Perhaps what he meant was that he wanted a society with no class, in which case David Mellor has certainly made a good start.

BELIEVING as I do that I will probably end up the last smoker in Britain, I have much enjoyed reading Smoking and Common Sense by the Danish doctor Tage Voss which argues that all the anti-smoking statistics are tosh. But one passing observation amazed me, viz, that 'very few people get pleasure from smoking in darkness; apparently they need to see the smoke'. Is this true? Since the moral of Voss's book is that you must never take the experts' word for anything, I decided to conduct my own experiment. It was not easy to find total darkness: I ended up crouched beside the washing machine in the utility room, which did not enhance my smoking pleasure because I am afraid of the dark (and also somewhat afraid of the washing machine). Anyway, I conclude: there is no pleasure at all in smoking in the dark, but this is to do with a) not being able to find the ashtray b) not knowing when you've reached the stub and c) not being able to read. It has nothing to do with not being able to see the smoke.

ESTATE agents we all know are venal and unlovable creatures but we can normally expect them to display a certain amount of worldly nous. However, this week this paper - and presumably every other newspaper in London - received a press release from Beauchamp Estates boasting that it had just sold a house to Lord Justice Woolf - and giving the address. Now judges are not normally eager to publicise their addresses for obvious reasons, and Judge Woolf might well be more sensitive than most since he fined Channel 4 for their refusal to disclose a Northern Ireland source. So I rang Beauchamp Estates and got a Bertie Wooster soundalike who said he didn't think he cared to talk to the press. He thought they had a press chappie who came in sometimes but he couldn't say when. He didn't know who else I could talk to, and he thought on the whole 'we'd prefer not to have any publicity on this one, thank you very much'.

YEARS AGO I became very attached to an Australian serial called Chopper Squad about a bunch of surfers in helicopters. It was shown on Saturday mornings in the children's slot, although I always suspected it was really meant for gays with a taste for blokes in bathing costumes and biceps. The plots were so baffling I sometimes wondered if they took two 15-minute episodes and intercut them in random order to fill a 30-minute slot. Anyway, I thought no serial could ever be worse but now I've seen Eldorado. Crumbs] The real wonder is that 2.8 million viewers still watch it, not that seven million have dropped out. I bet there are elderly people sitting in front of their television sets who worry they've suddenly developed Alzheimer's or had a stroke as scenes veer crazily from English to French to Spanish, or characters start a conversation in sunhats and continue it in cardigans.

In Wednesday's episode two characters drove into a courtyard and unpacked suitcases from a car, while someone shouted down from a window, 'How was Barcelona?' That was the whole scene. Presumably it was necessary for the soi-disant plot to establish that they had been to Barcelona and returned alive (no coach crash for them) but one would have expected the scriptwriter to wrap it up just a little. Then there was a girl babbling Spanish to a priest in church, until her English-speaking boyfriend came in and whisked her through a door - straight into a villa kitchen where some quite different scene was going on. I kept waiting for someone to explain, ' 'Ere, just popped in from the next-door church, have you? Funny the way they build them so close in Spain', but they never did. I fear that killing half the cast in a coach crash isn't enough. Why not have them all winning a competition for a trip to the BBC - the day a bunch of terrorists decides to blow it up? Better a bang than a whimper.