Jeremy Thorpe: Rinka’s Revenge!
I hear that Jeremy Thorpe is dead. He inspired my first poetic work of any substance. Written when I was still at school, The Trial of Jeremy Thorpe has joined the catalogue of my lost works. I conceived a strong prejudice against Mr Thorpe the first time I saw him on the telly. I was equally partial to Norman Scott, whose only fault, I would ever allow, was a certain resemblance to Hermann Goering. And I felt sorry for Rinka. Put me on the Jury, and I’d have found the wretch guilty for that alone – even if the prosecution evidence, I now have to admit, was less than compelling.
I had not the smallest doubt, as a schoolboy, that he was guilty as charged, and I set to work on my play during the trial itself. I hoped it would please my English teacher. I was so annoyed when he was acquitted that it nearly took the shine off Margaret Thatcher’s first election victory.
Of course, I never dared publish. I last saw the manuscript in 1983. All I can presently recall is part of a chorus of drunken journalists who accost the chief prosecution witness in the Old Bailey:
Jeremy, bold and ruthless,
Than leaders old and toothless,
Better by far, we heard
From Jeremy – how absurd!
Jeremy married a wife,
Then, [three lines deleted because I have acquired some decency with age]
[Whole verse deleted for same reason]
Jeremy butchered a hound,
Nor ever was uttered a sound
Within our English shores –
Oh, horrid libel laws!
Beware, O Male Model,
As murder’s quite a doddle
For those to place elected,
Or rich and well-connected.
As I write, other fragments come to mind. Here is part of an antiphonal chorus:
Pillow-biting Norman, young and ignorant and poor,
Took his doggy, Rinka, for a walk on Porlock Moor….
Here is part of a soliloquy:
Three days has the Jury been out.
Three days have I watched and waited, waited and watched,
For some sign that my ordeal is over.
And, in this time, have I gone on sinning –
Sinning and partly-sinning –
In the hope that greater sins may cover lesser sins,
As lesser sins may cover tiny sins,
And so on till there are no sins at all….
And here is the end of a police officer’s speech, in which he moves between English and Latin (excuse the false quantity):
Mendax es honestior,
Doloris donor cani:
Quam os tuum castior
Podex est Normani.
My sole talent as a poet, I regret to say, is for defamation. Forty years of scribbling, and I haven’t produced anything memorable that isn’t a gross insult.