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From :

To :  

Subject :    White ties and Corgis

Dear Dessie,

Well, what a Horlicks in their Lordship’s House on Monday evening.  Soames and I went down to watch proceedings as all those dreadful old Labour, Lib Dem and assorted clerics worked themselves up into a lather over tax credits.  You’d have thought we were watching something from a Dickens novel as that red-haired woman Hollis wrung her withers, that old soak Foulkes bellowed out insults and sundry bishops whined and crept.  So we now have what we old soldiers call an operational pause, whilst G Osborne reconfigures the policy.

Some of our wilder colleagues were all for flooding the Lords with 300-plus new Tory peers. Soames and I councilled against, since the candidates would be even less able than the ones we have at present.  He was all for putting the wind up their Lordships by having carpenters put another 300 clothes pegs in their cloakroom, dump overfill portaloos on their car park, and squash extra desks into all the opposition offices, which are already full to the brim.

As we waited at our end for the final vote I went into the Smoking Room for some spiritual uplift, to find a cheery Boris handing out drinks all round and telling all concerned that he had every sympathy for the dreadful position George was in!

Actually, Soames and I missed out on Monday’s vote for the premiere of that Bond film Spectre.  I had got two tickets from my son in law who is a media groupie, and we had put in to be slipped.  But at mid-day we received a message we were required to see the Pairing Whip.  He’s a good egg by the name of Mel Stride, but such are the demands of our colleagues that he can never be found in the Whips Office.

Instead, we were grabbed by that fussy whip Sarah Newton and taken by a curious route down into the bowels of the Palace before arriving at a door guarded by that large whip and former soldier, Kris Hopkins.  In a small room within was said Stride, who said: “Hello chaps, sorry about the secrecy but I mustn’t break cover.  Also, sorry, I can’t let you go to see Spectre – votes too close”.  Naturally disappointed, but played the loyal knights of the shire.  As we left, I said the way M Stride was moved around it was like a scene out of the wartime series Secret Army – getting shot-down aircrew down an escape and evasion line.

And while we are on the subject of slipping, I see you have got away to a development donors shindig in the Cayman Islands – nice work if you can get it!  You missed the visit of the Chief Chinese Mandarin last week, where we rolled out the red carpet and did the kow-tow.  Soames and I were invited to the State Banquet – Soames because they wanted to meet Churchill’s grandson, and your humble servant as the other half of the Lady Mary, whose relatives made a packet out of the Opium trade.

Soames and I, resplendent in white tie, met up at the Turf Club and put several warmers into the bank.  Several of the bar flies asked us to put a good word in with the Chinese bankers – “Loopy” Johnson wants them to invest in his llama farm.  We then headed off to Buck House care of the Bentley used by the General Officer Commanding London District, complete with red plate, stars and guidon. I must say I did think it was a bit over the top when they turned out the Guard.  We were somewhat thrown to see a large merc in the inner courtyard driving round and round in circles.  It turned out to be one of the many cars used by union bosses and lent for Brother Corbyn, who was trying to get into his white tie in the back assisted by the “Reverend” Chris Bryant, spinster of this parish.

Poor old Corbyn eventually emerged like a badly-dressed Christmas tree, and had the indignity of being smoothed down by Muriel, one of the Palace Footman.  At some point, the corgis got loose, yapping and nipping the heels of the guests, until the Duke of E raised his voice which would have done credit to a Petty Officer in Nelson’s Navy for – quote – “Some “blankety blank” to remove those “blankety-blank” dogs”.

There was the usual melée before we took our seats with every Old Etonian, including the PM, pinching Hugo Swire’s derrière.  I observed to Soames that at Wellington we could have given him a rugby tackle.  Funny, these school traditions. I found myself sitting next to a smartly dressed Chinese lady with an American accent who said she was the third cultural secretary here in London.  Now Dessie, I may be many things, but I can spot a spook at one hundred paces, particularly when she asked whether I was happy with the interest rates on my deposit account at the Nat West. I could hear Soames booming away further along as, to my joy, he was telling a politically incorrect joke about a car accident between King Farouk of Egypt and a British soldier and the ensuing Court of Inquiry.  I could see that fellow MacDonald who is the Chief Clerk at the FCO curling his lip with horror.

I must admit I dropped off into the land of nod during the speeches, until I woke to find myself under the lazer gaze of Lady Mary who was at the end of the top table.  Prudently, I decided to stay at the Club overnight.

Our Labour friends are in the depths of despair over Corbyn’s appointments to his personal staff.  If you think he and McDonnell are a couple of unreconstructed old Bolshies then you should see the CV of his apparatchikii.  There is this weird bird Seamus Milne, son that old flanneller Alistair Milne, whom Margaret gave a P45 to  in the 1980s.  Old Labour lags are outraged because he supports every loony left regime and pressure group at home and abroad.  I told that Labour right-wing fixer John Spellar that, for me, the worst aspect is that he has written for the Guardian, is an old Wykehamist and is a graduate of Balliol College – any one of which makes him a first class copper bottomed you know what!

I did get a break this weekend when Lady M and I were invited to represent HMG at the Commemorative ceremonies at Agincourt circa 1415.  I have a family interest in that an early Mark One Reggie was the equivalent of a warrant officer o/c men at arms under Henry Five.  In the ensuing aftermath of the battle looting and pillage he managed to grab some rich Frog knight who eventually paid a ransom of the equivalent today of some five million pounds sterling.  We have never looked back.

We had a very jolly dinner at the Pale Male and Stale Club last night at the Connaught Rooms.  Our leadership candidate was the feisty Priti Patel who would make Margaret Thatcher sound emollient and consensual.  She went down a bomb, and Soames went off to White’s to spread the word for those lucky punters at the bar to put their shirts on the aforementioned Patel.

I am tapping this out on my Ipad in the corner of the Member’s Lobby as that outspoken 2015 intake gal Heidi Allen – she of the maiden speech attacking tax credits and yet voting for them – is being led off by Dame Ann Milton, the Deputy Chief Whip, to the re-education centre.

Half term looms on the horizon, and if you aren’t overseas handing out HMG’s golden doubloons to unworthy recipients, perhaps we could meet up at “The Crooked Banker” at Hartley Witney for a liquid lunch?

Yours till the next U-turn,


7 comments for: From Reggie to Dessie: “Corbyn emerged like a badly-dressed Christmas tree, and was smoothed down by a Palace Footman.”

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