Some celebs of thirty years ago

Things you didn’t know, or perhaps had forgotten, about people once in the news, Jot 101 Tatler cover 001and perhaps still newsworthy, according to Tatler’s Thousand  Most Socially Significant People in 1992.

Michael Portillo ( b 1953)

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Portillo is occasionally tipped to become Prime Minister. Shrewd, direct, with, as Private Eye puts it, the eyes of an assassin, lips of a tyrant, he gets his hair cut and we all have to read about it. His recreational interests include opera, Trollope and the Michelin Guide, said to be his Bible. He was part of the Omega project ( a blueprint of right wing policy) and backed a bill for hanging.


Private Eye doesn’t seem interested in him, now that he has abandoned active politics. Today he earns a living by going on train journeys around the UK and Europe clutching his trusty Bradshaw and a Baedeker. An avuncular figure who looks as if he might be the kind of chap you’d have a pint (or glass of red) with down the pub. One wonders as if he is still pro-hanging. The subject hasn’t yet come up, though while touring Spain he did dilate on the life of his father, a revolutionary during the Spanish Civil War.

Timothy Clifford, former Director of the Scottish National Gallery (b 1946)

‘Dynamic fogey who looks like an arty merchant banker. Rosy-cheeked and Regency clad, he has a ridiculously posh voice and is very well-connected.’


His voice is almost as posh as that of the late, great art critic Brian Sewell, who criticised him in the Evening Standard for his endorsement (along with many other museum bosses ) of worthless photographic  prints. More seriously, Sewell also had a go at him for allowing the old master drawings he had collected while working at the V& A and Manchester City Art Gallery to be given a separate catalogue as ‘ The Clifford Collection’ at a Sotheby’s sale in 1989. As Sewell pointed out, Clifford was well aware that ‘his own ownership added its peculiar distinction to the drawings‘ provenance ‘. Private Eye made similar allegation over some Renaissance medals collected by Clifford while at the Scottish National Gallery and sold by him in 1996.It is strictly against the rules of the Museums Association for a curator in the public pay to deal in works of art cognate with the holdings of the institution in which he or she works. This conflict of interest is drummed into all museum professionals. Clifford’s infractions were brought before the Ethics committee of the Museums Association, and their report, which your Jotter has read,  declared that  although technically he was not ‘ dealing ‘,   Clifford’s activities were  against the spirit of the museum code of conduct.


Camilla Parker Bowles. (b. 1947 )


‘Married to Brigadier Andrew Parker Bowles, Camilla enjoys a warm, sympathetic relationship with the Prince of Wales because of her ability to listen on and on and on.’


Just three later in the infamous interview with Martin Bashir The Princess of Wales revealed the true relationship of Ms Camilla Parker Bowles with Prince Charles. After Diana’s death, Camilla was seen by the public as an interloper, but following a decent interval, Charles and Camilla married and today the present Duchess of Cornwall is fully rehabilitated in the public mind.


Darius Guppy (b. 1964 )


Shusha Guppy’s son ascended to public attention when, as best man at Earl Spencer’s wedding, he failed to make a speech. This was followed, in March 1990,by an incident in which he and Ben Marsh ( his partner in a jewellery business ) were robbed of gems worth £1. 25 million. Darius is now facing four charges: conspiracy to defraud, stealing, and two of false accounting.’


Guppy was found guilty and jailed for three years for this scam. Later it emerged that Guppy in1990 had tried to persuade Boris Johnson, then a journalist, to get another journalist he disliked to be beaten up. An exchange revealed that Johnson had agreed to do it, but nothing happened and the whole nasty business was forgotten. Fast forward to 2006 and it was reported that Guppy lured his best friend Lord Spencer to a meeting whereupon he began to violently assault him over an allegation that the aristocrat had tried to seduce Guppy’s wife, a former model. Guppy is now a ‘ businessman ‘ based in Constantia, a resort of the wealthy in South Africa. He has also published poetry while at Oxford. Quite rated.


Loyd Grossman ( b.1950)


Married to David Putnam’s daughter, Debbie. Grossman made his name as a food critic and restauranteur before transferring to television, where his Bostonian drawl has graced Through the Keyhole and Master Chef. He is also patron of the Canine Defence League


The ‘Through the Keyhole’ star has been incredibly busy in the past thirty years. He has become a sort of  art historian, is the driving force behind a range of cooking sauces  and seems to have cornered most of the posts ( chairman, president etc etc) in Britain’s booming heritage industry. He combines all these worthy public duties with reviving his early career as a punk musician. Everyone in the media is wondering what his next big move will be. He already has a CBE. Surely a knighthood cannot be far away for the eminent author of Harper and Queen’s Guide to London’s Restaurants and The World on a Plate.


Ghislaine Maxwell


The youngest child of the late Robert Maxwell now lives in New York where she sometimes sports Yankee baseball caps. She read French and History at Oxford, then worked for her father who made her a director of Oxford  FC and Head of Special Projects at the New York Daily News. Renowned for talking raunchy and defending her corner.


Renowned now only for being convicted of helping her paedophile close friend, Jeffrey Epstein, obtain young girls. She awaits her sentence.


Stephen Calloway (b.1951)


A walking work of art, Stephen knows all about historical decoration and is a style guru. A waist-coated dandy, he has a goatee beard and waxed moustache with which he twiddles.


Your Jotter once saw this modern dandy on Royston railway station a few years ago. It must have been him. No-one else in the UK looked quite like that, although in 2022 there are a few more lookalikes around Hoxton and Dalston. I can’t swear that he was carrying a gold-topped cane but he certainly boasted a top class Edwardian moustache. He is now retired from the V & A, where he worked in the Department of Prints and Drawings. He is an expert of Aubrey Beardsley and on nineteenth century ‘style ‘.


To be continued…

R. Healey


3 thoughts on “ Some celebs of thirty years ago

  1. Bandol

    I think he has retired to Debenham in Suffolk. Have seen him there. A great guy and a true aethete

  2. Joe S. Walker

    Getting out of politics was definitely a good thing for Michael Portillo. To be touted as the New Hard Man Of The Right rarely ends well – see the most recent candidate, Dominic Cummings.


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