Friday, December 28, 2007


News that the archly Australian conservative apparatchik Lynton Crosby is to assist the colourful British Tory MP Boris Johnson in his bid to unseat former communist Ken Livingstone as Lord Mayor of London piqued Hector’s interest in the dull days between Christmas and New Year.

Crosby is generally credited with engineering the John Howard ascendancy in Australia. He jumped ship, of course, long before Captain John pulled the bung on his own boat, moving into the lucrative business of privatised advising through his firm Crosby-Textor. He is already a veteran of British election campaigning.

Long before that, he was – for his sins which, given the serial dysfunctionality of the Queensland Liberals, must have been major – director of the Queensland state division of the Australian Liberal Party and an aficionado of fish, via the excellent menu at Aussie’s Fish Cafe at Red Hill in Brisbane. Hector shared a crumbed fillet or two with him in those distant days.

It is interesting that Crosby, who is nothing if not a primordial Tory, should be assisting the man known in British politics as Bonking Boris. Two people whose personal lifestyles are further apart would be hard to imagine.

Boris got his nickname from the fact that he is apparently unable to resist the temptation to invade every pair of knickers that sails into view. He himself – not only the dour British Tories’ most colourful MP, but also a former editor of the lively British weekly magazine The Spectator – puts his unquenchable interest in the sport of Romp n Bonk down to his Turkish ancestry. Blond and effervescently British he might be, a product of the playing fields of Eton and all that, but he is of Turkish descent on one side of his family.

This has often caused Hector to pause, claw poised in midair somewhat in the manner of Frank in that irritatingly entertaining British sitcom 'Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em', to ponder the question of whether there might be some undiscovered genetic link between Boris and the Turkish ambassador in Moscow whose arrival there in April 1943 produced a brilliant report to the Permanent Secretary of the Foreign Office in London from Britain’s own HE on the spot in the wartime Soviet capital, Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr.

Hector has a treasured facsimile of Sir Archie’s fine letter, dated 6 April 1943, to his pal Reggie (Lord Pembroke). It reads as follows:

My Dear Reggie,

In these dark days man tends to look for little shafts of light from Heaven. My days are probably darker than yours, and I need, my God I do, all the light I can get. But I am a decent fellow, and I do not want to be mean about what little brightness is shed upon me from time to time. So I propose to share with you a tiny flash that has illuminated my sombre life, and tell you that God has given me a new Turkish colleague whose card tells me he is called Mustapha Kunt.

We all feel like that, Reggie, now and then, especially when Spring is upon us, but few of us would care to put it on our cards. It takes a Turk to do that.

Sir Archibald Clerk Kerr
H.M. Ambassador, Moscow

Perhaps Boris’ own business cards subliminally carry the same message.

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