Subject: Be Happy in Your Work.
For the life of me, I cannot understand the thinking behind holding a meeting of overseas aid ministers in Athens at a time like this? Whose bright idea – don’t tell me, your German opposite number? I’m even more surprised that the whips allowed you to go with all the votes on Scotland this week. Liders (a.k.a the minister for Europe) tells me that given the cash shortage over there you have had to take two grand in used twenties and use the overdraft facility at our embassy. Good luck on trying to get a flight home!
You will have missed all the important events at home this weekend, although for Soames and I there was an embarrassing sequence here in London. On Saturday, we had been at an Armed Forces Day Parade in the City, decked out with gongs and regimental ties. We were in a cab heading back for a liquid lunch at the Cavalry/Guards Club – my treat – when we were caught up in a monstrous traffic jam. We decided to proceed on foot – big mistake.
Dozens of floats were moving down the road like a mobile Mardi Gras. Indeed, by the flamboyant costumes and make up I thought it was one – but no, it was the annual Gay Pride Carnival. A lot of vulgar repartee until we found ourselves alongside the Household Division float whose occupants recognised us and invited us aboard. Soames reluctant but the Bollinger on offer persuaded him to hitch a lift – it did take four Drag Queens to get him up. Fortunately, there were no photographers around, but I found it a most convivial ride and we were well oiled on arriving at the club. Pity the Major General London District saw us dismount!
You missed all the parties last week, including the Summer Ball – lucky you. Lady Mary is I/C donor’s table and I was under a three line whip to attend – DJ, remain sober, and don’t mention peerages. There was a raffle, and some well-heeled entrepreneur paid twenty grand to have dinner with Lady M and myself. I made myself convivial to whom I assumed was his daughter only to find out she was his wife! Furious look from Lady M and on jankers for a week.
Boiling hot here in London – warmer than Athens – and like others I found the coolest place in the Palace was in the Chamber. It throws the Whips when after lunch it’s packed with steaming colleagues apparently interested in the “Outsourcing of Widgets Bill”.
Of course everything is merely a taster for this week’s Budget – I don‘t know why I’m bothering to sit through it as most of it’s been leaked in advance. The Chancellor’s on a high whilst Boris J is looking glum. He and other insurrectionists are in a right old bait over the extension to Heathrow. Threats of resignations and by elections by West London MPs who fail to take into account the travelling convenience and comfort of your humble servant.
Osborne held a drinks party at his Downing Street residence for senior colleagues including all the knights of the shires and, in the case of Sir Simon Burns, a knight of the suburbs. Plenty of largesse as we were told that Osborne is a Macmillan One Nation Tory, which I take with a pinch of salt. Proceedings were interrupted by the emergence of a large rodent which produced screams from the ladies until it was eventually cornered by young Hancock, who strangled it and dropped it out of the window. As I said to Osborne this came of rusticating Freya his cat who was a great mouser, although suspected of working for the Chinese.
I tottered over to the reptiles’ pub “The Nest of Vipers” to continue the movement, and had a convivial noggin or six with Tom King and Tommy Strathclyde from the Lords. They told me that the PM intends creating 60 new peers, the majority being notionally Conservative. As Tom grumbled, he hoped that some of them might actually attend their Lordships House and even occasionally vote with HMG rather than just bringing their business friends by the dozen in to the dining room. The House is already full with standing room only in the Chamber, queues for the loos, and the cloakroom wall-to-wall with mobility scooters.
Fortunately, the opposition is in disarray. We have all been chortling at the success of that delightful old left winger Jeremy Corbyn in wooing plaudits and the backing of Unite. All my Labour chums are in deep gloom and talking about being out of office for 20 years. Our Rob Roy element, the SNP, are boring us all to death about Scotland at every opportunity. I suppose it goes down well north of Gretna Green, and they are having a massive hissy fit at the whips wheeze of restricting English votes to English MPs by merely changing Standing Orders. It’s a rough old world, politics.
I must say we were all cheered by our gallant gals representing England in Wimmin’s Football. Soames favourite minister, Tracey Crouch, who knows how to referee that game, was given a slip to attend the matches. Doesn’t matter they lost to the Japs – they did it with style. Mind you, I remember playing hockey for Wellington College against Cheltenham Ladies College and, whilst distracted by all that female loveliness, being floored by a stick across my ankles. I still have a limp in wet weather, although Lady Mary says I’m a wimp.
We all need a summer break, and as Soames reflected the other day as we had a beaker of shampoo in the Smoking Room, “God alive knows Reggie, you and I have made our sacrifices for the Party with all these three line whips preventing us from getting to Epsom and Wimbledon – unlike the boys at the bar in White’s”.
Did you see the interview with Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary? She reminds me of our daughter’s nanny – all jolly hockey sticks and gymkhanas – unlike mine, who made Rosa Kleb look compassionate. Anyway, she is presenting a more humane face to our schools – compared with Brother Gove and his rottweiler that strange cove D Cummings. She’s concerned with whether children are happy at school – never seems to have crossed the minds of the beaks at Wellington whose motto was “Spare the rod and spoil the child”.
At any rate, she is supporting a “well being strategy” which our whips seem to have taken up. My whip keeps asking me how am I and do I have any negative thoughts? I told him in no uncertain terms to get a grip. All of this nonsense reminds me of that scene in The Bridge on the River Kwai where the Senior British Officer of our POW’s is addressed by Colonel Saito of the Jap Army with the immortal words: “Let me remind you of General Yamashita’s motto: Be Happy in your work” Dessie, are you happy in your work?!
Assuming you managed to get the last flight out of Athens – maybe care of the brylcreem boys (a.k.a the RAF) could we meet on Monday for a tincture or six at “The Whistling Leper” and compare notes?
Yours till our next medical,