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There is added piquancy in this tale of infidelity now that we learn (from Billington) that between 1962 and 1969 Pinter was having an affair with a television personality called Joan Bakewell, who, because she was sexy and bright, was known as the “thinking man’s crumpet” — as though a thinking man’s taste in babes is any different from those of a truck driver or a President of the United States. She and Pinter still have what she describes as “great lunches.”
Harold and Antonia were, and are, charming, witty, and generous hosts, and their Holland Park home has been the scene of many memorable parties. On June 20, 1988, however, they made what turned out to be a public relations mistake. They invited a group of worthy lefties — among them the playwright and author John Mortimer — to their home for what became the first of a series of meetings to find ways of fighting the threat to Britain’s traditional freedoms from the Thatcher regime. Photographers and reporters were stationed outside the Pinter home to harry and snap members of the “June 20” encounter group. Pinter reacted farcically. “We have a precise agenda,” he declared, “and we are going to meet again and again until they break the windows and drag us out.”
Poor Harold: he has spent much of the past twenty years waiting for a squadron of Cossacks to charge him, but no one will even break his windows and drag him out of his house. The ubiquitous “they” will not jail him, they will not wiretap him, they will not rape his wife or kidnap his children. “They” are right sods. True, the press has mocked him, traduced him, misrepresented him, and misreported him; but that’s freedom for you.
Still, no man can be wrong, or absurd, all the time. Pinter’s friendship with Vaclav Havel speaks well of both men, and his work on behalf of the Kurds and Turkish dissidents is not to be dismissed simply because he overlooked the plight of, for example, contra dissidents under Ortega. During the Gulf War he was on the side of the angels (and Martin Amis) when he campaigned successfully to prevent Abbas Cheblak, a Palestinian enemy of Saddam who had lived in Britain for sixteen years, from being deported as a security risk. His heart is often in the right place, even if he wears his spleen on his sleeve. He would be taken more seriously, however, if he took himself less seriously; if he were less morally indignant. The trouble with Pinter is not that he is entirely wrong but that he is entirely righteous.
Meanwhile, there are the plays.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?