August 19, 2012


OBIT: Ian Dunlop : Ian Dunlop, who has died aged 83, was a wit, charmer, chancer, fantasist and pretender to the much-claimed title of "last of the old Soho characters". (The Telegraph, 8/17/12)

His forebears were Scottish aristocrats, soldiers of the Raj and suffragettes. His own youth was spent amid the glittering haute bohème of Fifties London: the gambling set of John Bingham (later Lord Lucan); its underbelly, personified by the notorious slum landlord Peter Rachman ("charming fellow, absolutely charming"); and the familiar Soho cast - Francis Bacon, John Minton, John Deakin, Daniel Farson and other frequenters of Muriel Belcher's Colony Room Club. In typical Soho style, Dunlop was to be found at one time or another claiming that he disliked or despised them all.

In conversation Dunlop's aim was to satirise and annoy the pretentious, particularly on the Left. General Pinochet was "liberal yet firm". A project of his from the Eighties was a collective of lesbian plumbers, to be called Stopcock. His interests included music; regrettably, his book Alban Berg's Debt to Offenbach never saw the light of day .

Tall and lanky, patrician in physiognomy, speech and mien (in his fifties he was dubbed "The Greying Mantis"), Dunlop saw himself as a ladies' man . Girls who had been stood up by feckless or faithless men were his speciality, and his hit ratio was high. It was explained to them that the ritual needs of his world were satisfied by the Ceremony of the Lowering of the Pants at Sunset. Even towards the end of his life the patter needed only minor adjustment: "If I give you a silver sixpence will you put your hand on my catheter?" Such lines worked only because they were backed by a powerful charm. "The real joke about Ian Dunlop," women friends would point out, "is that he isn't joking." [...]

He finally succumbed to an infection that set in after he broke an arm in a fall ("I was attacked by a gang of Jews, Freemasons and Communists"), having survived (in chronological order) bladder cancer; tuberculosis; heart disease; a broken back; emphysema; and lung cancer. During one of his many stays in the old Middlesex Hospital - in what he described as the Jeff Bernard Memorial Bed - he was presented to medical students who were told to find everything that was seriously wrong with him; none managed to tick every box. But Dunlop enjoyed the attention: "I fell in love with myself when I was 12 and I have never been unfaithful."

Posted by at August 19, 2012 11:07 AM

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