Clegg spent many years in the endless halls of Brussels and Strasbourg, working for the European Commission and then as an MEP. A privileged environment that may have been, but above all a bourgeois one, and one whose elites were meritocratic and technocratic, not aristocratic. (Also deeply dull-sounding. The recollection that Geoff Hoon was an MEP before he entered parliament somehow makes that role seem almost devoid of any joy or life.)
I used to work part time for an MEP and got to Brussels now and again. It was more fun than that.
Thing is, they stack MEPs offices by party in Brussels, or used to. All the conservative parties were based on the first two floors. The European socialists were above them, and above them was where the fun started.
My MEPâ€™s office was directly beneath the Abode of the Liberals, and sometimes you couldnâ€™t hear yourself think. Thereâ€™d be shouting and odd cries and people running up and down corridors and the sound of heavy things being dragged to and fro. This would go on all day. I poked my head round the door once when I got the wrong floor on the lift and there were three men standing in a corridor staring intently into an open briefcase. One of them turned round, bared his teeth and hissed at me. The fascists used to complain about them.
But then the Euro-Liberals were an odd crew, libertarians in the continental style, with all the not quite coherence that implies: Dutch sex shop entrepreneurs sharing a caucus with really angry dentists from Stuttgart. And the Italian Radicals had to be seen to be believed. I suppose Clegg or someone like him spent a lot of his time going from place to place telling everyone to calm down and be reasonable. Or maybe he went native. Was it him being dragged down a corridor, or doing the dragging? Iâ€™m sure the Mail will get round to telling us.