The incident was apparently filmed by his partner and posted on social media but was soon removed. Was that before or after the New York Post picked up the story and it went viral?
Suddenly, Jez's one-minute folly made him a global celebrity. And as the media dug deeper, the public discovered Webster's name, his address, his age (59), place of employment, the name of his partner, his dietary choices (free range), his preferred reading (was that the Sunday Times he was carrying?) and even the views of his mother-in-law. By now, Webster has already had a thorough monstering by Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail (“this idiotic display of political onanism”) and we can only guess what the Sunday newspapers will do with him.
The moral? In this wired world, once you light the blue touch paper of self-publicity, there is no return. And while we may expect to find teens and twentysomethings doing daft things with no thought of the consequences, we do expect someone in his 60th year to maybe stop, think, leave Maggie alone and save those eggs for a delicious free-range omelette.
Coincidence corner. Mrs Rhodes summoned me from my reading to help her with a tricky crossword clue. The clue included the significant word Browning which is a crossword compiler's delight because it can refer to gravy browning, a Browning pistol or the poet Robert Browning. The coincidence? At the time I was summoned to help I was reading a wartime anecdote of a senior officer who complained to his assistant: “I can't find my Browning.” The assistant spent an hour searching for a Browning pistol, only to discover his boss had mislaid Browning's Collected Works. What are the odds?
The Browning yarn comes from Max Hastings' excellent book Soldiers: Great Stories of War and Peace. Alongside it is a reference to Enoch Powell, a wartime officer and later the Wolverhampton MP who made the infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech. Hastings records that it was said of Powell “that he has one of the most brilliant minds in England – until he makes it up.”