He was a handsome man, possibly the most eligible in Kolar, and she no doubt gloated over capturing him at such a young age. For a quarter of a century, as the editor of the Daily Mail's diary, he was the man perfectly placed and qualified to record - and accelerate - the end of the age of deference. Investing huge amounts of time and money in racing and gambling, he was a different man — if as much himself — in this other life, and I can only apologise to the turf fraternity if my allotted sum of words is not adequate to do it justice. As a result of the differences with Private Eye Dempster was nicknamed 'Nigel Pratt-Dumpster' whenever he was subsequently mentioned, and became a frequent target of parody by the magazine. The devil is in the detail.
Marred by broken relationships and a dependence on drink, its ending was both pitiful and inspiring. Indeed, for many people Dempster's Diary was the Mail. Besides, it has been difficult enough to separate truth from fiction in his life without subjecting his output to the same scrutiny. His page, with its scurrilous revelations about the great, the good, and the not-so-good, was the only one to read. Whenever the buffets of his tempestuous life threaten to engulf her, she rises above; calm, serene and swanlike. And when one met him, at least he told the truth.
He was a consummate journalist, too, breaking such then-huge stories as the collapse of Princess Margaret s marriage and the resignation of Harold Wilson. Not everybody, I can exclusively reveal, was heartbroken when they heard the news. . Dempster had somehow wangled a commission to puff one of his books — with no seeming intention of fulfilling it. In this riveting study of a man and his milieu, Tim Willis treats Dempster's bibulous journey through old Fleet Street and Society as a tragi-comic romp. She was very good at the Chinese game of mahjong — much favoured by the memsahibs — but perhaps most enjoyed playing the piano, which she had studied at school.
At school at Sherborne, he grew his fingernails especially long so he could scratch opponents in the rugby scrum. For a quarter of the 20th century, Dempster was the man perfectly placed and qualified to record — and accelerate — the end of the age of deference, the transfer of wealth from the aristocrats to plutocrats, and the collapse of standards in the old Establishment. Nor could I mention or interview every significant friend, colleague, contact and enemy. And the lower orders were kept behind the green baize door — until Dempster threw it open. After he left the Eye, he began writing his column for the Mail on Sunday in 1986, and thus it now appeared seven days a week.
She enjoyed riding and walking, and went out in the cool of the evening while Demy was on the golf course. At the Mail, it is remembered that when the last proprietor needed distraction or his wife attention, Dempster would be wheeled out to entertain them. The Encyclopedia of the British Press 1422—1992, London and Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992, p. A Punch article of mine once revealed as Dempster would have put it that during his lengthy absences his column was put together by his long-suffering team of under-hacks. While Dempster was sometimes inaccurate, for instance dismissing suggestions that would marry , he forecast in 1975 that would soon resign as Prime Minister, three months before he did so in 1976. His first job, in India, was at the Kolar Gold Fields, near Bangalore.
But for all his convivial charm and canny ability to infiltrate the smart set, Dempster led a strangely isolated life. And through it, he provides a portrait of a changing world. I hope the aggrieved will understand that I have given some regard to his medical condition. Above all, he loved his work. The couple had three children to whom Topsy was a fond and easy-going mother: the eldest, Pam, in 1930, Erika in 1938 and Nigel in 1941. One of his wives named a python after him — and that was before the divorce. I must also thank Paul Dacre, for sanctioning my approaches to journalists from the Daily Mail, and for allowing me access to the Associated Newspapers library, whose staff — not least Jonathan Bain and Mo McFarland — were of unfailing assistance.
As a boy, the future gossip columnist Nigel Dempster would throw eggs at his Indian servants. Wilson, Auberon Waugh coined the appellation. Retrieved on 13 July 2007. For a quarter of a century, as the editor of the Daily Mail's Diary, he was the man perfectly placed and qualified to record - and accelerate - the end of the age of deference. Also working there, as an analyst, was Jack Stephens, originally from Devon and a decade his senior. Bursting on to the national stage in the Seventies, in his kipper ties and too-tight suits, Dempster was the people's cad - exposing the infidelities of Harold Pinter and Lady Antonia Fraser or James Goldsmith and Annabel Birley, paying tipsters like the bouffant Lord Lichfield with crates of champagne.
In so doing, he provides a portrait of an age. Often, as in the New Testament, there are several versions of the same story. By his second marriage, Dempster had a stepdaughter, Emily Kate Godolphin Harris born 1972 , and a daughter, Louisa Beatrix Dempster born 1979. Only vaguely religious, she very likely lived without a serious thought in her head, under the protection of her older husband on whom she depended utterly. It gratifies me to learn that Dempster did indeed work for the Mail a mere 32 weeks a year, for what was said to be £300,000. However, the sphere in which he succeeded was created in the shadow of the Sun, and one day his brand of journalism would be eclipsed. When I mentioned to him that I was writing this book, he was surprisingly generous.