That great survivor Ken Clarke, who turned 70 this month, was on characteristically ebullient form at the Law Society’s summer party at the Tate Modern. And yes, it’s official – like all jazz afficionados, the new justice secretary and erstwhile chancellor really does wear brown suede shoes. Like many people in the late-autumn of their careers, Clarke reflected, he’s a couple of rungs lower on the ladder than he used to be and his bosses were once other people’s office boys. But he’s not letting this get him down – the former barrister QC is more concerned about alienating all the chums he’s made in the law when he gets down to the hairy business of slashing the MoJ’s budget by – if you believe the reports – as much as 40%. We are sure that where he does cut, he’ll do it charmingly – something that one would never have expected of his predecessor Jack Straw.
Now is also an opportune moment to make what Obiter promises will be his last allusion to the World Cup. One of Ken Clarke’s proud boasts – who knows, perhaps his proudest – is that he was present at Wembley on that far-off day 44 years ago when a ‘wag’ was a comedian and England were crowned world champions.
Clarke, not long down from Cambridge, was seated immediately behind the ‘Russian linesman’ who controversially awarded Geoff Hurst the goal that did or didn’t cross the line (it didn’t, admit it) and turned the match in England’s favour. Clarke claims to have influenced Tofik Bakhramov (who was actually from Azerbaijan) by bellowing ‘goal!’ in the linesman’s right lughole from a distance of not more than a few yards.
Ho hum – Frank Lampard and England could have done with Mr Clarke’s powers of projection in Bloemfontein.