acceptable viewpoint now. even ifThatcher | and Reagan have departed. ‘There‘s no doubt about that.‘ he admits. 'At the time when a group of friends and I first started talking about libertarian conservative Republicanism in the middle or late 70s. there were only three of us who were interested enough to talk about it. Maybe there were others who sort of agreed in a grunting inarticulate way. but there were just the three of us at the core who formed the Pants-Down Republicans. Now there does seem to be a sensibility that is more ready to proclaim its conservatism.‘

‘I talked to the Conservative Graduate Association and they seemed fairly serious about their politics. After Reagan and Thatcher. there seems an attitude that rather than being dog-in-the-manger troglodytes going “Why isn‘t Britain what it used to be. get these wogs off my island." there‘s more of a sense of a coherent philosophy. of a mission. Certainly in the States. there‘s a whole lot less ofthe bigotry.‘ It might be apposite to point out here that this was the man who opened a piece with the sentences ‘Man developed in Africa. He has not continued to do so there.‘

‘Every political philosophy has its besetting sins.‘ he continues. ‘The besetting

sin of Marxism seems to be death camps.

Bigotry and prejudice have traditionally been the besetting sins of conservatism. I like to think that we‘ve got away from that.’ You begin to realise at this stage that O‘Rourke‘s dictionary defines ‘bigotry‘ somewhat differently from the rest of us. Let‘s have a bit from Parliament ()f Whores about a housing demonstration: ‘There were hardly any beautiful women on the rally. I saw a journalist friend of mine on the Mall and he and l pursued this line of enquiry as assiduously as our happy private lives allow. Practically every female at the march was a bowser. “We’re not being sexist here." my friend insisted . . . "lt‘sjust that beautiful women are always on the cutting edge of social trends. . . Where the beautiful women are is where the country is headed. And this isn‘t it.“ “By the way". 1 said. "where are the beautiful women?” “Well. we know where two of them are." said my friend. “One is married to you and one is married to me. and they‘re home".‘

These are the sad rantings ofa middle-aged humourist who has been cosin accepted into the mainstream, whose younger selfshocked and amused. but who now finds his opinions commonplace. Happily married. he lives in a small. sleepy New Hampshire town a pillar ofsociety in fact. ‘Well. maybe a gatepost or a picket

But the best and linal argument against cutting detense spending cannot be put into words. It’s visceral, hormonal. It is that excitement in the gut, that swelling of the chest, the involuntary smile that comes across the lace oi every male when he has a weapon to hand.

fence.’ he suggests. ‘I’m a normal 43-year-old. I’m afraid that I’ve moved over towards the mainstream. Which is as it should be. You can‘t play the wild young thing forever. and there’s something pretty pathetic about people who try to do so. Lenny Bruce said there’s nothing sadder than an ageing hipster and I think he had a good point, even though in the end he was one.’

To complete the disillusionment. he doesn’t even continue to drive fast on drug cocktails with a topless college girl in the passenger seat. ‘I can’t put up with the drugs any more,’ he says, apologetically. ‘You get over a certain age, say 35. you have to sort of pick your poison. Mine’s alcohol. It’s legal, relatively inexpensive and readily available. So I dropped the drugs. And I’m a happily married man, so wing-wang squeezing is all over. But I still drive fast.”

It‘s not enough though. is it. especially when you have to resort to ‘power naps‘. ‘The vision is of Evelyn Waugh.‘ he says, ‘the later drunken obstinate one. It‘s not an attractive prospect.’

You said it PJ.

Parliament 0f Whores is available in Picador hardback, price £14. 99. J

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