Black Watch: The Weekend’s Top Stories

Black Watch: The Weekend’s Top Stories

With Victoria Day just past, Canadians can be forgiven for letting Lord Black’s every squib and squiggle escape their attention. Still, for the hardier breed of aficionado, there was plenty over the weekend to keep the pulse racing. Saturday’s London Guardian included an exclusive feature interview with Himself. One assumes that the interview was granted with the understanding that it would focus on his new biography of Richard Nixon, The Invincible Quest. And while Black’s musings on Nixon were evident, if you’ll excuse some shameless editorializing, those weren’t the interesting bits. To wit:

“Black…considers…the case against him is ‘bullshit.’ It is also a ‘joke,’ an ‘outrage’ and a ‘complete fraud’; the idea that he and his wife, Barbara Amiel, enjoyed an extravagant lifestyle is ‘complete and total rubbish.’ The prosecution, he explains, are ‘suffering mood fluctuations’ as it dawns that they are heading for ‘a complete wipeout.’”

For good measure, Black adds that his biographer Tom Bower is a “malignant psychotic,” that the prosecution’s case hangs around their necks like a “toilet seat,” and that, as his behaviour as the proprietor of The Daily Telegraph proved, he “was not a vulgar person, and I don’t think anyone accuses me of being illiterate.”

Beyond that, Black compares himself favourably with Gandhi and Lenin as a potentially imprisoned scribe, and insists his most recent work puts the lie permanently to a series of vicious rumours fostered by his tormentors: “I’m sending everyone a message. I’m saying: this is war…. You’ll be aware of these stories that I was living in Toronto as some kind of Howard Hughes, my hair to my navel. So I thought this could be my way of demonstrating to my tormentors that they hadn’t even prevented me from writing a book.”

I could go on. As I read through this litany, I had a nagging sense of déjà vu. Who did he remind me of? And then, like a bolt from the blue: of course! The baronial and perpetually aggrieved Toad of Toad Hall, from Kenneth Grahame’s immortal The Wind in the Willows. Take, for instance, this description of Toad’s self-image in the face of his tormentors:

“The chaff and the humorous sallies to which he was subjected, and to which, of course, he had to provide prompt and effective reply, formed, indeed, his chief danger; for Toad was an animal with a strong sense of his own dignity, and the chaff was mostly (he thought) poor and clumsy, and the humour of the sallies entirely lacking. However, he kept his temper, though with great difficulty, suited his retorts to his company and his supposed character, and did his best not to overstep the limits of good taste.”

That’s our Conrad.

Black at bay [Guardian]Black jury may see videotape [National Post]Lord Loser [NY Post]David Radler was the lone architect and instigator of the Hollinger “conspiracy”—hence his plea bargain deal to be served at a country club [Toronto Sun]Black feeds the sharks [Toronto Sun]Shareholder called Black ‘a thief’ at annual meeting [Toronto Star]