While the women of college “kept him at bay,” his nightly quests of whiskey-fueled chess matches quickly drew him to the college fraternity (and would later earn him legions of political “fanboys,” but more on that later). As Eyres puts it: âHis qualities were attractive enough to men. His superpower isn’t that he’s an evil genius, but that he encourages others to bend the rules or go against the norms. Because he doesn’t seem to care, he encourages others not to care either.
Whether Cummings actually cares what other people think of him remains a moot point between friends past and present. As the one who did not wish to be named puts it: âHe cares intensely about his image and the perception of his intellectual competence. Eyres agrees. âHe won’t care about having p-sed the whole of the Conservative Party, but he does care what people he respects think of him. This appearance before the committee – it was enough like Dom, trying to protect his reputation.
He is not, apparently, the intellectual snob he claims to be, however. “He wasn’t like a lot of college students in that he wasn’t trying to show you how smart he was,” Eyres insists. âThere was no pretension with him. He was just thirsty for knowledge – he was incredibly intellectually curious.
While on the right path to academic greatness, the Cummings team fell under the spell of the college professors, who dubbed the group The Wastrels, even sending them a letter warning them to work harder. . It may not have helped that while on vacation, Cummings collected money at the door of his uncle Phil’s nightclub, Klute in central Durham, famous for his ‘quaddies’ – beatings quadruplets. Voted second worst nightclub in Europe by FHM, revelers joked about wiping their feet on the way out. But Cummings clearly retained a penchant for establishment, forming a limited liability company called Klute Ltd in 2010 – although the company was never active.
Back in Oxford, as some students are recruited (possibly for MI5) by Professor Michael Hart, a political researcher since 1982, Cummings falls under the spell of Norman Stone, Margaret Thatcher’s former European adviser, then modern history teacher. According to Eyres, âStone wasn’t at our college but Dom ended up doing tutorials with him and it soon became clear that he had spotted something in him that the rest of us hadn’t noticed. He truly respected Dom’s spirit and put him on the path of friends beyond Oxford.
One of those contacts was former Oxford student Liam Halligan, the economist and columnist for the Sunday Telegraph, who was commissioned by Stone to take Cummings under his wing when he arrived in Russia in 1994, having obtained “a very good first â, according to his former tutor Robin Lane Fox. Stone clearly believed he would be wasted in the corporate world, and Cummings shared his mentor’s desire to witness firsthand the consequences of the fall of the Soviet Union. Halligan, who worked in Moscow as a journalist, let the newcomer sleep on his sofa for several months.
âI got a fax from Norman Stone saying, ‘I’ve got a brilliant one here, he’s going to have a prime. I don’t want him to work for Goldmans. Show him the tricks of the trade, âreveals Halligan. âHe was extremely intense and articulate. He didn’t know much about economics, but he showed a lot of bottle to come to Russia, right after graduating. Describing post-Soviet Russia as “like the story of speed,” Halligan recalls how “surprisingly independent” Cummings was and keen to immerse himself in a “land of opportunity.” “I remember thinking back then, whatever he does, it won’t be normal but it will be interesting.”
Halligan, the son of an Irish builder, adds: âWe came from very different backgrounds, but one thing we had in common was that we had gone to a world-class university. And the other thing was that we both came from families where people hadn’t worked for anyone – they had formed a business. There hadn’t been a check from the government or from an employer, they had to weave and weave. This made us both focused on business; compassionate, but don’t take the p â s, low tax rate, weak regulation – we saw companies cross the cobblestones on the streets of Russia and it was inspiring. Halligan poops all conspiracy theories on Twitter that Cummings has pseudo-socialist sympathies – as “poo” – a view shared by another friend, who says Cummings is “more economically interventionist than the Conservatives in the United States. free market, but he is certainly not a left-hander â.
After trying and failing to set up an airline flying from Samara on the Volga to Vienna, Cummings left Russia to join the Business for Sterling campaign against the euro in 1999. Moving with a friend to Islington, he stayed. woke up late and “became a lot more successful with women,” according to Eyres. âEspecially the crested dark-haired women. “