Jeffrey Bernard and Paul Chambers

United by a desire to laugh but divided by time

Jeffrey Bernard Jeffrey Bernard
As a way of giving their reporters time off during the holiday season, or perhaps out of pure laziness, the Spectator has resorted to the time honoured routine of a trip to the archives. So they reprint an article written by Jeffrey Bernard called 'Eastern Promise', dated 17 December 1988. Oh what a different world it was those twenty years and more ago! Bernard worked for the Spectator for over twenty years though to describe him as either a reporter or a journalist (if there's a difference?) misses the point. For he was an alcoholic, the term 'heavy drinker was wasted on the man, too mimsy and part-time. Bernard gave not just his heart and soul to drink but a leg too, amputated late in life when his body was falling apart; although the purveyors of strong drink cannot take all the credit here as Bernard took his drink with a steady supply of cigarettes. He wrote in between drinking himself into a stupor, he was basically honest as he wrote about what he knew, hence his work for the Spectator was published under the tile 'Low Life'.

The facts, if you have a thirst for them, can be found propping up the bar in Wikipedia under the heading of his name. What we learn is that he was determined from an early age to live this way. As far as is known he had no criminal record and came from at least an upper class background, this is important. For today if you are a bit of a 'wrong un' then in the modern way of thinking it's not your fault; poverty or your class background, but usually poverty, is reckoned to be the reason behind it all. The idea that you set out with a will and a way, unfettered by birth, to be deviant is foreign to the experts on this subject. This is interesting, for it seems as child he began exploring the seedy parts of London, usually Soho, that became his fiefdom later in life. So no social workers about in those days to swoop down on the family and take him away.

Another thing, he drifted into writing, he did not set out to do this nor did he attend a university offering a course in Journalism. How did he, or the Spectator, cope? In fact it seems that he was 'rescued' by a well-wisher who thought that if he did some writing he would spend less time in the pub. In other words journalism is quite easy, even a drunk can do it! Fraser Nelson, the present editor of the Spectator, has said that he has never met a single graduate of one of these courses in his working life. Yet the academic world is awash with undergraduates spending their time 'studying' this subject. The few I have met are all lefties: sombre, boring, humourless and above all 'committed'. It makes you think, does it not, what with the end of print journalism predicted any time soon what will these people do, run pubs?

Not that the Spectator did very well out of Bernard. So often was he too drunk to write, and so missed deadlines, that the magazine took to explaining the problem with the words, 'Jeffery Bernard is unwell' on top of the otherwise blank page bearing witness to his state. Not only did this add to the joke but makes us wonder about the years they continued to employ him. Modernists like to congratulate themselves about the more tolerant world their constant striving has brought about, however, taking Bernard as our example does ruin their argument. And so to his writing. Today very little can be said that does not run the risk of upsetting the devout, Muslims are terribly fragile here and, unfortunately, have led the way. Sadly others have followed so we find even the Christians have adopted the habit of taking offence at any remark that comes along. Bernard wrote -

But one of the things about Christmas that I keep thinking about and which is rather odd is the fact that Jesus was born in what was obviously a pub. So God can’t be all that bad.

Just imagine the time that would be wasted 'dealing' with that statement if it was printed today. What ever happened to 'turn the other cheek'? Today a common remark aimed at bores, of any sort, is "get a life", but few do, alas. But the lines from Eastern Promise that really show up the difference between then, 1988, and now are -

The last I heard she had stopped off in Bangkok so she might even have been kidnapped by monks, God bless her. How I would dearly like to be there in my bar at Bang Pa-In. (The next reader who has the impertinence to write and tell me how to spell Bang Pa-In will receive a letter bomb by return of post.)

Threatening to send a letter bomb, ah! It's at this point we remember Paul Chambers. I never met Jefferey Bernard, I've not met Chambers either, different they are but they can be compared simply on the basis of what a difference time makes. Chambers sent, so he thought, a private message by Twitter. It was -

Crap! Robin Hood Airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!

Paul Chambers Paul Chambers
Not as funny or as well written as Bernard I'll grant you. He would have dealt with the irritation behind the temper much better but no sane person thought in 1988 that Bernard would send letter bombs so why the big fuss about Chambers? The rise in stupidity of public servants over the years is astonishing. On any level of comparison between 1988 and now the world we live in has indeed been diminished, not by terrorism so much as by the massed ranks of public servants and various other assorted do-gooders and improvers. As the employers of Bernard the Spectator rose to the defence of Chambers, and others, who have been treated in a similar fashion, see . - HERE-HERE-HERE-HERE-HERE and HERE

Chambers said the police seemed unable to comprehend the intended humour in his online comment. "I had to explain Twitter to them in its entirety because they'd never heard of it," he said. "Then they asked all about my home life, and how work was going, and other personal things. The lead investigator kept asking, 'Do you understand why this is happening?' and saying, 'It is the world we live in'.

Wrong! What a lie, it's the world created by idiot public servants. What a world it was in 1988 when Jeffrey Bernard could write about letter bombs and get a laugh rather than a criminal record. Finally good luck to you Paul Chambers, but to all the public 'servants' who took part in this mess and really are low life I hope you get a plague of locusts or perhaps serpents come your way, yeah, I really do, if you see what I mean!