In my daily blog last May, I posted a peice which was headed:
Cabinet Minister Chris Huhne and the Convent-Raised Comedian in which comedienne Charmian Hughes remembered now-disgraced British politician Chris Huhne giving her her first snog when she was a pupil at Westminster Boys' School (it's a complicated story).
So, when Chris Huhne yesterday (after ten years of denying it) admitted in court to perverting the course of justice... and when his son's venomous e-mails to him were made public this morning... I sent an e-mail to Charmian:
Any bloggable memories or comments? I asked. He seems to have been liked by his son!
Did Westminster School rate telling the truth highly? At my grammar school, they had a debating society (I wasn't a member) where the most admired people were the ones who could successfully argue for a motion which they didn't agree with at all... A microcosm of Parliament, I think... Lying was admired and celebrated.
All adolescents hate their parents and I hope they get through this. It is very sad. My daughter says things like that to me on a daily basis and I haven't even done anything!
I think maybe he has confessed to save his son from going to court. It's like A Tale of Two Cities: "It is a far far better thing that I do now than I have ever done..."
He gave us the most fun in our teens, but not out of generosity but because we hung on to his tails by the skin of our teeth. I have a five year diary that is full of him and how amazing I thought he was.
Did you know I am a writer of serious poetry since the age of seven? So here is one written in October 1971 and guess who it is about and what it predicts. Forgive the metaphysical, meteorological and geographical confusion. These are my teenage poems about Chris.
THE OSTRICH - (October 1971)
The wolves pursued me through the snow,
I was an ostrich fleeing across the strand,
aware of death if I were to let go,
I buried my head, an ostrich in the sand,
and when I reached my mother's arms
I tried to hold her, but she let me go,
let the wolves devour me,
an ostrich in the snow.
SNOWMAN - (September 1971)
When that warmth
almost thawed the frost,
I was ready to worship the sun.
But you clothed yourself in cloud
and my heart has become numb.
Sensitivity has formed its own barricade.
Love - I have forgotten how to love;
and I am like some empty Antarctica
that nothing can penetrate.
Don't try to melt me
or you too shall become frozen;
and two unfeeling snowmen
shall stare indifferently
at a bleak and frozen world.
LOUISE - (9th December 1972)
a cold day -
our tears are all frozen
into hard smiles.
The same axe
splintered all our dreams.
But on the thousandth day
we rise again:
More bitter and more silent,
but still with instinct to survive, endure,
forget, and love again.
I came from a convent where truth was absolutely paramount. If a teacher told a girl off for talking in class, another girl's hand would shoot up straight away: "Please, Sister, it was my fault actually," and that herd mentality protected the group, so honesty paid off.
Westminster certainly protected its own. It was educating the political and legal class - the sins of youth were probably expected, even covered up.
People were always laughing at other people there, mocking the sensitive. I think if you laugh at someone (not in entertainment but in ridicule) it is the least intelligent, least curious response to that person and is just expressing a fait accompli superiority devoid of moral growth. Lots of people laughed at my poems and thought I was oversensitive but, mind you and touch wood, I'm not in prison am I? Abuse of a metaphor is not yet a criminal offence!
These are extracts from Charmian's teenage diaries:
in evening i went to see Chris Paul-Huhne. He has grown his hair - much nicer!!! Chris edits a v. serious magazine called Free Press, one shilling and he and others spend hundreds on it.
Chris looked super. we sold Free Press in market and tube station. moved to pop concert but lost Chris - saw him disappear in car with girl on his lap.
Chris apologised and said while we were in market he and pals were at tube looking for us. he'd gone on to party and we'd have gone too if we'd found him.
In morn shopped at Kensington Market. Bought purple vest/shirt. In afternoon went to Chris's. Marcus W was there. Chris wilfully flared the lighter in my face and tried to singe my eyebrow! My god, he could have singed my eye and blinded me!! He tried to make me jealous by saying about a house party next Saturday. We left with Free Press. In evening Mish asked us round. We tried ringing Chris to see if anything on. Was not on.
Went to see Chris. He was having breakfast. This time he played the piano and sung his own combination. God! Actually he's got quite a good voice. When the romantic moment came, he told me I owed him 14/6pence for the Free Press I'd sold.
Chris wanted his cash so i gave it to him out of sponsor cash.
Went to Chris's. He seemed pleased to see me and asked me in. He kept staring at me. I said I was either Marxist or Labour and he said he'd send me Manifesto of Communism for birthday. I told him date.
My birthday. No manifesto from Chris.
In evening went to see Chris. He said I embarrassed him as I represented his childhood. Then he said I'd changed a lot since he last saw me and was mature. he said I had... an air of serenity. We listened to records. He is a very deep person.
After she read these diary entries from Charmian, my eternally-un-named friend said to me:
"Well, if he can sing, he should write a song in prison. He might get a pardon if he writes a good one. Or he could sing Tie a Yellow Round The Old Oak Tree..."
Tantalisingly, Charmian told me:
"I had to edit and cut those extracts as they presented him in rather an unfair light!"