One person’s sense of humour is often someone else’s pain. I’ve been fortunate, mostly, in being able to handle what has been flung my way. Journalistic jokes at my expense continue to be made from time to time.

I well remember, in describing another flat-racing season, the legendary Jeffrey Bernard wrote that ‘watching a mediocre steeplechaser negotiating twelve fences on a damp and cold winter’s afternoon is about as inspiring as watching the Ayatollah Attallah chatting up a beauty at a publisher’s cocktail party. You can admire them both for their gall.’

Following up on this, ‘Pandora’s Box’ in Ritz magazine carried an amusing item:

Naim Attallah

would like: Better looks to appease JEFFREY BERNARD (who wrote in the Spectator how ugly Naim is).

would like to give his best friend: ‘A smouldering LIZA CAMPBELL (as described by NIGEL DEMPSTER).
would like to give his worst enemy: A Christmas Carol by Paul Johnson (who also wrote a nasty piece in the Spectator).

(The two top cosmetic surgeons in London are Perry Jayes and Freddy Nicolls.)

My friend A. N. Wilson, writing rather entertainingly in Tatler on the twentieth-century preoccupation with contemplating one’s own navel, commented that ‘this autumn, I notice, Channel 4 are launching a series called “Hey, Good Looking”. At first I thought this was to be a twenty-part serialization of the life story of London’s greatest publisher, Naim Attallah, but it turns out to be a survey of all that is meant by the word “style”.’

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