Since he seems to have been ordered to pack in both the plagiarism and the recycling, where does that leave a columnist whose whole career has depended on those two staples?
It leaves him with George Osborne.
There's always been a third pillar to Ray's career, which you can call networking, if you prefer it, as a term, to brown-nosing. I suppose they're not actually the same thing, though both are all about connections: the connections Ray has, and the connections he would like to have.
His Spectator column now appears to be devoted to both.
This sequence kicked off in January when Britain's leading chess columnist decided that his readers would like nothing more than seeing a game played by some bloke on the internet.
Spectator January 11
Congdon, Lawson, Johnson. Who are these people that we should be mindful of them? Congdon is a rightwing economist - very rightwing, as it happens, not unusually for Ray's circle. Still, Ray's friends are his own affair - though when he reckons that their internet games are attractive enough to be his weekly column's subject, wouldn't you prefer the Spectator had an editor knowledgeable enough to ask "why are you sending us this rubbish?"
The Spectator did use to have such an editor. At least in so far as he knew about chess, though not so much where telling Ray to up his game was concerned. Then again, Dominic Lawson - subject of the column two weeks later - is an old mate of Ray's. And what is the Spectator for, if not to defend the principle of people getting on by their connections?
Dominic's played an interesting role in Ray's career, as it happens
but that need not concern us now, except to establish them as old collaborators. Hence Ray's backscratching above. (No doubt the regard is mutual. Anyone who's read the column itself may be entertained to see that Lawson selects Ray's favourite Modern Defence.)
Oh yes, Lawson is chess correspondent of Standpoint. (I noticed that this column, perhaps unfairly, omitted his old friend's name, preferring "other chess players" instead). The magazine's economics correspondent is one Tim Congdon.
Ray next treated us to Gates v Carlsen.
I think Gates might be a bit out of Ray's networking reach these days. Carlsen too, come to that. Still, he tries his best.
The following week, it was Daniel Johnson, whose 1997 game against Steve Davis had somehow previously escaped the attention of the chess world.
There's Congdon and Lawson again, along with the editor of the magazine for which they write. What's this about then? Is Ray angling for a job at Standpoint? A review? A dinner invitation?
Who knows. Maybe it's just that nobody reads the Spectator chess column any more, except the readers of this blog. So it really doesn't matter what goes in it any more. One week, it's devoted to Ray's friends. The next, to people he wants to be his friends.
Like George. George, Ray, the Spectator. What a combination.
As I was saying:
No doubt in Ray's imagination it is always Baguio in 1978, exchanging barbs and presents with Baturinsky. Or London, in 1986, with Prime Minsters past and present queuing to share his company. Or 1985, Buckingham Palace and his OBE.No thanks for the memories, Ray. Isn't it time you, too, were consigned to the past?
[Thanks to Pablo Byrne]
[Ray Keene index]