A Blacker Shade than pale |
A Black intellectual with no vision of a mission.
There are times when human values become disturbingly predetermined by power groups and not always in their proper settings. Attitudes at top levels of society often smack of hypocrisy and the very meaning of tolerance itself does not magnify under the microscope when closely scrutinised but remains, as a token and nothing else. What people say and what they do is part of that disturbing, motionless reality that keeps things in place and sometimes, merely to keep ripples at bay.
Derek Laud, a highly polished example of British schooling is no stranger to these feelings being black and unnecessarily eagerly proffered, gay. But visions of the sliding, hysterical kitchen aide in “Cage aux Follies” does little justice to the complex and sensitive intellectual who somehow gets missed when not immediately useful. Derek was the dark figure at the window with Margaret Thatcher looking through the parted nettings on her way out of No.10. He was also the hidden hand in the writing of inimitable speeches for many a potent deliverer, including Prince Charles. He was always behind the saving face and damage limitation of some overexposed celebrity. In fact Derek, despite his own clutch and brake approach to offers and opportunities, particularly in an area where he would have excelled beyond his own understanding, rose to real fame in the humble but entertaining framework of Big Brother, long after his finest hours. Only a few years back he would have turned his characteristic nose to ceiling level and wrinkled his eyebrows at the thought of all that trash, but Derek has always been his own worst enemy. Social attitudes are difficult to remove and in the case of a highly intelligent (and all too perceptive) black, upper class intellectual, the slightest sign of surprise or camouflaged rejection would bring a sweeping behaviour pattern to the fore in haughty spurn. No friend could ever be wary enough in the wrong convivial setting with the wrong approach from someone or other who took him for granted. And bully to him too, but in a world of used and users, Cassandras unfortunately proliferate and whoever passed him by, missed the point. Derek as black as the ace of spades and built like a mini Samson in his stormy jet set youth, had his followers. He could seduce like a lynx and bring ambiguity to a close within record time, befriending and often disarming the objects of his choice with little more than a cursory meaningful look. Politically however, such liberation brings out the wariness in others used to plying their own wares in parcelled acceptability, way behind commitment or meaningful move. The cagey, politically correct, become the puppets of tomorrow and the incumbents of the power houses of the real manipulators. It is true that intelligence and ethical values do not succeed in the tight circles of vested interest and it is a sad truth of modern society that mediocrity stands a better chance of gathering support than that which invokes envy or even conflict.
We had been watching a dapper black athlete enter the cosy ambience of one of the celebrity ridden and fashionable eating parlours. In the delightful quiet elegance of the place, the well endowed socially and or economically shuffled a little uncomfortably with those who had neither but thought they should be seen as. It was the sort of place that Derek found great comfort in. He not only knew most, but was quite happy to introduce them to the others they wanted to meet. In this, Derek was skillful and overly successful catalyst. We were in the depths of loose chatter when the doorway framed a well attired black African. We both passed comments as people always do in the presence of another strikingly different race and forgot completely about Derek´s own racial background. I sensed that Derek had, too. It was a peculiar experience – I had forgotten and assumed that Derek was white. He cottoned on with that deep understanding look in his eyes that comes around when he is not clowning about or exaggerating the depths of his last stirring experience. “·So it IS a cultural thing – there is no white or black or big nose or skinny or podgy – its what it feels according to your own cultural leanings!” I knew what he meant. We see differences when behaviour and mental patterns do not coincide and forget them when the gap closes. Derek had never been black to me nor did any of my other black or tawny friends who sounded and acted as English as the cliffs of Dover. All those however, whose expressions and sounds fell back on distinct cultural molds, kept their distinctive alien identities to the point of affecting and conditioning mine. Derek therefore in more ways than one was whiter and much more Anglo Saxon than me who had just left out enough of that little final percentage of closeness of identity to be called “English”without flinching visibly.
Game for a challenge but....
Derek does not or has ever lacked opportunities. Having worked in the world of speech writing among other things like channelling opportunity in political corridors, he has never lacked the odd open door to inner sanctums. His formidable talent and management capabilities however, have mysteriously been bypassed. Why, is not that easy to say, but perhaps, the firmness of his stand on most issues and his unique capacity to call things by their proper names, may have something to do with it. Mores the pity in a world that has all too often ushered in leaders better suited to run the one shelf corner shop. Derek may not be a leader of men, but as a head of any institution or political department , few could excel. His charismatic and penetrating mind would provide the sort of solid platform on which a lesser talented, but politically better suited man or woman of carefully chosen words, would lead the shifting crowds. The oft disagreeable Alan Clarke - more of an uncomfortable fit in my social terms, mentions Derek him in his celebrated acid autobiography, with some approval, but cannot resist washing his face clean from the potential gay spill. But then he was only an auxiliary then. But talent is talent is talent and Derek Laud and the nation could have made better use of the potential contribution of such an interesting and useful amalgam of facets and ultimately desirable racial approaches. Such levels of aspiration were perhaps a little short of Obama´s slot but even at the time it would have worked just as well. Derek after all has always been among the top liners of the political field and not necessarily of his own chosen party affiliation and yet he has not been taken on board with that sort of eagerness that would provoke a positive response. He has often been seen at various social points with the man himself – the David Cameron who commands the political high ground today. In fact, if friends are anything to go by, it was Derek who opened up his list of crucial contacts in the party core when David himself was nowhere near that level. But then this is Derek all over at his most powerful and effective self. Not a leader but a very tidy organiser much in demand in those areas where it matters most. The deep friendship has survived the years and perhaps when the stage is set, we could have a Ministerial influence whether grey or black usefully making the sort of contribution to a state sadly lacking the sort of substance even I, an outsider of sorts, find sorely lacking now. The third member of the most popular Tories in the UK according to a national poll, in all seriousness, in the company of such structures as Thatcher and Churchill – you guessed it, was none other than our laudable Laud himself.
The useful side of blackness came to the fore for Derek however with the every increasing political changes brought on by immigration in the eighties. Alas, despite the secured candidature for the Tory Party, an unfortunate accident in the States whilst driving, broke into undesirable headlines of what, it would seem, were unfair claims of callous neglect. The fact of the matter was that the way from the American Mansion to the densely wooded lonely gate miles away, offered little more than pitch darkness that would have required nerves of steel for anyone to face on his own outside the safety of the car. He obviously hit something and the rest is history. The political gain had been very suddenly swept away and not refreshed with the advent of severe socialist Britain. An official Ministerial mission to South Africa and Soweto township bred a promise but times were changing fast – the Poitiers of British politics would age before the blue flag could come back as of now.
Derek is the nephew of the redoubtable Lord Pitt of Hampstead so aristocracy is no stranger to his family. He became the first black Master of the Hounds of Holy Hampshire and turned away from the offer of private secretary to Princess Diana for fear of entering the controversial Royal avenues he had so niftily walked along before. He was the misquoted friend who left the late Princess Margaret in the rain without an umbrella but who secretly adored her. Despite his much discussed closeness to the Duchess of York´s circle, which he strongly denies, there is no doubt that during the seventies and eighties he was very much a part and parcel of more than one very colourful jet set.
Derek is at a crossroad, with links to more than one highlight of the political right, like Michael Portillo, (another potential contributor to the present political platform) who appears, for his sins, to have been one of Sir John Major´s bastards (and whom Derek also introduced David Cameron to). They, like others, lie in the shadows when public opinion would give them more than a chance. If this is the way things are despite the unusual combination of cultural advantages which they carry in their genes, then the world is a much sorrier place than I have hitherto even remotely understood.
Related Articles -
derek laud, british politics, black, politicians, tory candidates, speech writers, big brother, ,