Has there ever been a murder mystery story quite so compelling as the Lord Lucan scandal? The reason this mystery continues to fascinate is not so much because of the tragic murder, but because we are still captivated by one single dominant question: what on earth happened to the Seventh Earl of Lucan?
To be sure, scandal has always been with us. The annals of British history are littered with the names of great national hellraisers, from Vinnie Jones to Gazza and beyond. However, there is a difference. Recent distasteful behaviour in sport, whether it be the English rugby team tossing midgets, or the bout of al fresco relief with which I began this article, betrays cultural problems, not individual misdemeanours...
I'm not advocating taking a torch to your local bank branch in California, but if you're going to face thirteen years for drawing with chalk, objectively, it makes more since to make sure the building is empty of people and just burn the bank down. That, more than anything, should show the absurdity of the charges these activists are facing and the creeping authoritarianism of the state.
The 18th century was a Golden Age for newspapers. The Georgian press delighted in cataloguing the vices of the age, and playwrights, politicians, actors, and courtesans were all afforded celebrity status by magazines and popular prints of the period. The parallels with today's media are startlingly obvious.
I heard Mandy Rice-Davies on the BBC this week. She sounds in good shape. She's the survivor. Today is the 50th anniversary of the day when Conservative MP and secretary of state for war John Profumo told the House of Commons that there was "no impropriety whatever" in his relationship with Christine Keeler, a watershed moment in what we now call 'The Profumo Affair'.
While Panorama's merciless investigation into Newsnight and the BBC's general wherewithal through the biggest crisis in its history does the corporation great credit, everything else about this week has been pathetic. Young and often vulnerable people were brought to Television Centre, a place that should have been filled with great excitement for a TV fan at that age, and were allegedly defiled by an arrogant master manipulator.