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Simple Pleasures

From 1957 to 1990, Michael Wharton, under the pen name of "Peter Simple," was partly or solely responsible for writing the Daily Telegraph's famous "Way of the World" column. Now well into his 80's, he continues to write in the same paper under the name of Marryat's hero, though Telegraph readers are rationed to just one column every Friday. (The "Way of the World" still appears, but is now written by Auberon Waugh.)

Over the decades, "Peter Simple" has become synonymous with unfashionable opinions of all kinds. He has become an institution in his own right, one of the few permanent features in a newspaper which has undergone many changes in recent decades. During all of this turmoil, Wharton has kept alive a beacon of visceral, romantic, traditional Toryism very much at odds with the bloodless and vulgar liberalism espoused by Margaret Thatcher and her drones. His column has certainly been one of the major reasons why many of the paper's traditional readers stayed with it during its various transitions. From the white Rhodesians and the Serbs to Jörg Haider, Wharton has consistently spoken out on behalf of lost causes and demonized right-wingers (usually one and the same thing), using his vibrant imagination and his keen sense of the absurd to subvert the idiotic but powerful notions of the establishment. The fact that his column is often humorous and...

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