Kenneth Minogue, R.I.P.
If you were a distinguished philosopher, economist, political theorist, or literary critic arriving at Heathrow from the U.S., Australia, or New Zealand between, say, 1990 and 2010, there was a fair chance that you were heading for 43 Perrymead Street in Fulham. That was where Kenneth Minogue, professor of politics at the London School of Economics and Britain’s leading public intellectual of the Right, and his second wife, Beverly, lived and over the years maintained a high-class B&B for visiting conservatives (English breakfast and metaphysical debates included). Its guest rooms were almost never empty. The Robert Conquests, the Tim Fullers, the Roger Kimballs, and (I have to add) the John O’Sullivans were among the more frequent guests. And the prices were unbeatable.
Suppose, however, you were unlucky enough to be visiting London when all the rooms were booked or, worse, you were living in the city? No worries. You would still be welcome at No. 43. In addition to keeping house for non-paying guests, Ken and Bev gave an apparently limitless series of lunch and dinner parties at which the current boarders, other visiting firemen, local Tory intellectuals, sporting left-wingers fond of debate, next-door neighbors, and the couple’s extended families — including Ken’s first wife, Val — would gather at a long table in the conservatory to be fed delicious food, more-than-drinkable wines, and provocative argument. Ken was a generous host, champagne bottle always at the ready, Bev a superb cook in the school of Elizabeth David, a mistress of both French and English cuisine. (I share with Roger Kimball fond recollections of both her steak-and-kidney pie and her steak-and-kidney pudding.)