Friday, September 12, 2008

Heart-warmingly mean ...

... Prowling the files: Auberon Waugh on Anthony Powell. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

This is a good time to remember Auberon Waugh's treatment of Nora Beloff, veteran political correspondent of the Observer. What follows is from my review of Will This Do?, Waugh's autobiography:

Beloff had written an attack on Private Eye, one of the many publications for which Waugh has scrivened, for a piece satirizing Conservative politician Reginald Maudling. Waugh weighed in with ``a whimsical piece introducing Beloff as `delicious 78-year-old Nora Balsoff who sometimes wrote under the nom-de-plume Nora Bailiff. . . . Miss Bailiff, a sister of the late Sir Alec Douglas-Home, was frequently to be seen in bed with Mr Harold Wilson and senior members of the previous administration, although it is thought nothing improper occurred. ' This was obviously intended to be humorous because Douglas-Home . . . was not, at this stage, officially thought to be dead. Nor was Beloff yet seventy-eight. ''

Nevertheless, Beloff sued for libel and won a judgment of 3,000 pounds. Five years later, when Beloff married fellow journalist Clifford Makins, Waugh weighed in again: ``I hoped I would be asked to be best man at Nora Beloff's wedding today, since I imagine it was I who supplied a large part of the bride's dowry. ''

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