Beyond Discussion

Neal Ascherson

  • The Last Word: An Eye-Witness Account of the Thorpe Trial by Auberon Waugh
    Joseph, 240 pp, £6.50, February 1980, ISBN 0 7181 1799 9

‘Heh, heh!’ went the judge in the Thorpe trial, Mr Justice Cantley. According to Auberon Waugh, who sat in the press benches all through the six weeks of the Old Bailey proceedings, he made a habit of it: his own jokes, the floundering of witnesses, the incredible spectacle over which he was presiding, all presented matter for a good heh. Auberon Waugh purses his lips over this, but that’s his technique as a pamphleteer. When the judge titters, Waugh draws his pale brows together in distaste, but when the judge turns solemn and adjuring, Waugh puts his own glasses to the end of his nose and allows himself a snuffle of amusement.

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