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When Pinochet came to teaPinochet in PiccadillyAndy BeckettFaber 1599 pp286Idi Amin eats nothing but oranges on the orders of his physicians He dreams of leaving Saudi Arabia and returning to Uganda Baby Doc Duvalier fled Haiti in 1986 with millions of dollars in his luggage Having emptied out his monogrammed suitcases into the fleshpots of the Cte dAzur he now lives quietly in the suburbs of Paris When the television executives get around to commissioning After They Were Infamous these superannuated strongmen will win respectable ratings but the big name that the guest bookers will want for the pilot programme is Augusto Pinochet UgarteIts not that the former Chilean leader was more breathtaking than his tyrannical peers in breakfasting on babies or appointing family pets to key portfolios in his administration No its that his story includes his extraordinary stay on our own doorstep during the 16 months when this self-proclaimed anglophile was Britains unwilling house guest In the important dispute over the rights and wrongs of Pinochets extradition case the incongruity of his enforced gardening leave in Wentworth tended to be overlookedYou can imagine a Graham Greene entertainment based on this period It would involve a Surrey clergyman perhaps one of those desperado sherry priests they are rumoured to have down there making housecalls on the devout old monster at DunrulinIn Pinochet in Piccadilly we learn that the property was actually called Everglades until it was renamed Savannah by the estate agents after the tenant had been allowed to fly home His presence in Britain was like a borrowing from a strange novel according to the journalist Andy Beckett who pokes about at Pinochets links-side gulag following his departure Youd see him sitting out there an ex-neighbour tells Beckett admiringly pointing to the lawn with his butler serving him drinksThis elegantly written book attempts to set Pinochets detention in the context of the history between Britain and Chile Beckett tracks down Sir Alan Walters
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