Some kinds of fidelity are not worth having

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The Independent Online
I THOUGHT a princess must have been been getting some financial advice, at least. I turned up at the airport, feeling miserable about the end of my holiday in the Seychelles, and suddenly there were great big lenses everywhere. Silver photographic suitcases perched rakishly in front of the first class check-in, and self-important young men sat at formica tables scribbling in notebooks and agreeing their stories.

They were in pursuit of Tim Yeo, first sacrifice to his party's absurd attempt to pretend that middle-class Tory voters have superior morals to poor people. This gang of hacks and snappers was really frightening in their absolutely driven quality: all the cliches about locusts and packs of rabid animals suddenly became flesh, not least because when I finally stopped drinking beer, put on my intent reporter's look and marched up and demanded to know what was going on, they wouldn't tell me. They brushed me aside, as if I were some nuisance holidaymaker.

I eventually wheedled the truth out of one of the less macho ones when the others strode off in search of pictures of the soon-to- be ex-minister hiding his face. I would like to be able to reveal previously unpublished details of what transpired during the Yeos' flight from the Seychelles to London, but I can't, because the minister was in first class and I was down the back. And actually, the piranha hacks and snappers couldn't either, because although they were in first class, the Yeos promptly and sensibly closed their eyes and fell asleep, or pretended to. Most papers spun it out, but what they got from their expensive jaunt was actually worth about three lines in paragraph four.

And they can feel they had a role in the resignation of a minister, I suppose. What all the moralisers - government, tabloids, Suffolk Women - overlook, I suspect, is that most people who remain faithful these days don't do it out of some stuffy Selwyn Gummerish notion of morality, but simply because they want to; because they aren't tempted, or don't want to jeopardise their existing relationships. And that, actually, seems to me the only kind of fidelity really worth having.

THEY flung out their arms, and spun, and tossed their glossy long locks, and they were fab. Dee Dee, Babs, Cherry, Flick and the others finally got a long-deserved programme to themselves last week, as part of the Top Of The Pops anniversary night on BBC1, and watching those clips of them hip- swivelling and blowing kisses and generally overdoing everything, it struck me that Pan's People are responsible for an awful lot of bad dancing. Deep down I am still trying to be a Pan's Person every time I go to a party.

I am almost certain this is not unique. I am not the only one who grew my hair long and lank in the misguided belief that it made me look like them; I bet, too, that I'm not the only one to have consoled myself with the thought that though I had never had a single dancing lesson, I was just so good at all that arm-waving and getting down on the floor and circling on my bottom that one day I would be noticed. The fact that much of it was really quite rude - the costumes were often little more than bikinis with a fringe, and it involved rather a lot of pelvic thrusting - appears to have passed me by, as, evidently, it did my parents.

It would be nice to report that adulthood and feminism had put an end to all ideas of wanting to be a Pan's Person. But they all looked so glamorous, and at least 10 years younger than they must really be, that I felt all those old feelings returning. And I bet they dance brilliantly at parties.

I HOPE Debby Carr, the girl from the Boddington bitter ads, who, according to the Sun, has been getting letters threatening her baby, is getting more assiduous attention from the police than I did when someone threatened to turn my children into, and I quote, 'a dog's breakfast'.

I had made the mistake of lifting, from a book about businessmen's wives, a social worker's remark to the effect that she had given up her job when her husband was promoted, because she could not fit in child custody cases with his official dinners. My article was a skittish sort of piece about executive wives, and it is perfectly possible that I failed to treat this statement with the gravity it deserved. But the next thing I knew, this woman was ringing me up at 5.30am hissing that I was a foreigner who didn't understand this country, and that she was The Agency and it was going to get me. This was irritating, partly because I am English, mostly because I am not at my most feisty at 5.30. But then a hand-printed letter arrived, also signed The Agency, saying: 'We know where you are. We know where your children are. And if you write any more rubbish in the newspapers, we will see that your children become a dog's breakfast.'

I went to the police, and some days later a couple of officers came to take a statement. But despite the fact that it was perfectly clear who the culprit was, and that she was bonkers, they declined to find her and tell her to behave herself. I think they thought we were two middle-class women having a tiff. I thought people shouldn't be allowed to make murderous threats against other people's children without retribution. Though I have to say that I have determinedly gone on writing rubbish in newspapers, and the kids, happily, remain unscathed.

THERE is a theory, with which I previously had some sympathy, that crime is a perfectly intelligent response to the predicament of being poor and dispossessed. But I'm increasingly coming round to the view that the criminal classes are actually a bit dim. My car window was smashed again this week, though the car was visibly alarmed, and parked outside the house, and though the CD player is in the boot, and the front of the radio comes off, so neither can be nicked. The police urge us to take precautions against crime, as if their failure to catch criminals were our fault; but what are we supposed to do if the criminals are just plain stupid?