Subject : New Year’s Honours and MP’s Accommodation
I am so pleased that you could make our pre-Christmas drinks at “The Fallen Milk Maid” at Winchfield. I hadn’t realised the potency of the landlord’s glühwein which, when cold, he uses as anti-freeze in his car. The last I saw of you was your attempt to ride your bike the wrong way down the road. Happy days.
Now your office tells me you are at some international donors conference in Hawaii – nice work if you can get it. Did you see your photo in the “Torygraph” from the Christmas Day swim in the Turpentine? You were surrounded by several pretty young things and looked like an elderly life guard.
My Christmas was en famille with the grandchildren running riot and my only sanctuary in the annexe. Lady Mary went out with the Boxing Day hunt (giving the Master an absolute bollocking for good measure) whilst I did some rough shooting and rattin’ with our Jacks.
I don’t know why I bother to look at the New Year’s Honours list as it only raises the blood pressure. Full of ‘x’ list celebs and luvvies from the world of the arts. Mind you, I don’t begrudge that old trooperette Barbara Windsor her dameship – all those Carry on Films! But in the red tops they appeared to have switched round the photos of her and Labour’s Chief Whip Rosie Winterton, who is now another dame – understandable in the round.
Like you, we weren’t inundated by the floods, and I was struck by the stoicism of the north country folk, unlike the whingers from Thames Valley last year. The PM is going to have to get a grip of the Environment Agency – top men absent on parade and don’t appear to have any idea of what to do. I urged the Trussette to appoint some recently retired sapper general to sort things out: sappers are good at that kind of thing, you will remember the floods in Westphalia in ’86. Instead of which the EA becomes a reward for passed-over businessmen, politicos and foreign office mandarins.
I see that Comrade Corbyn declined to send out a Christmas message, instead one for the New Year. I suppose he’s agin a Christian festival, though is happy to do the honours for Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and unbelievers.
His much trailed reshuffle has all the hallmarks of a first-class cock up, organised by that Stalinist Wykehamist Milne who doesn’t know his arse form his elbow. I suppose this week I will have to act as an agony uncle to several old chums in the PLP.
Mind you, our friends in the 22 are busy snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. The EU referendum has got the usual suspects foaming at the mouth – did you receive the pamphlet from the “Better Out than In” group on “Brussels – Conspiracy and Betrayal”? Trouble is that the spokesmen on either side – Lawson and Tebbit and Hezza and Clarke – are blasts from the past.
Of course all of this plays against the leadership speculation. Did you see our feisty leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, speculate that the next leader will be from the 2015 intake? That’s put the proverbial tomcat amongst the virgins.
Writing of that, I had a phone call on Christmas Eve from who I assumed was a tired and emotional Soames pretending to be Boris Johnson. “Hello Dickie, Bojo here (much woofing and wheezing) just giving you a tinkle wishing festive greetings and will value your advice in the New Year”. I said: “Not very convincing, Soames”, to which the reply was “But Dickie, it really is me, the Mayor!” At this point, I cut the comms.
Soames was much amused by this, especially Boris’s failure to know my name. But he was chuntering about the news we are to have a new Serjeant at Arms. Some civilian flunky from the Justice Ministry who’s damaged his cred with our side by having texted Labour’s Sadiq Khan wishing him all the best in the Mayoral election. Naturally Soames is furious because he has a large number of reddies on Zac G and has persuaded the boys at White’s that he is a shoe-in.
There have been the usual latrine rumours about MPs offices and accommodation. Some ludicrous suggestion that for security reasons we should be based in the underground car park – straight out of Downfall, with hysteria and the issuing of orders to non-existent units – sounds like Oliver Letwin, and the Cabinet Office.
Then there is the suggestion that MPs should live in student accommodation to save money – I’m not sure the Whips will like that, with more opportunities for student behaviour and hanky-panky.
Mind you, young Johnny Mercer, late of the gunners and pin-up boy for every woman at Westminster, has revealed he saves money by sleeping in his old fleabag on a boat on the Thames. Bloody idiot: most of us left that behind when we entered civvy street. Mind you, he’s had numerous offers of B and B from the blue rinse brigade in K and C.
You may have missed the usual stories about MPs: two of ours having an affair, and, to the horror of Lady M, being photographed canoodling in public. Our younger colleagues are fascinated by the affair of Labour’s man in Rochdale, including this dominatrix who will sell you her toe-nail cuttings for a tenner! Ye Gods, Dessie, we never had that during the Profumo Affair. As the late Sir Julian Critchley said: “The safest thing for any MP is a bag of boiled sweets”.
Did you see that literally the wheel fell off Farrago’s car? Rumours of foul play and dirty tricks by his opponents – and there are enough of them in UKIP to fill the Albert Hall.
I don’t know about you, but I’m having none of that nonsense about “Dry January”. I’m sure it’s bad for your health to suddenly give up the Elixir of life. Lady Mary attempted to get me to sign the pledge but I had my fingers crossed when I did (my grandson says this negates any promise – you should try it).
Sir Simon Burns drew to my attention to a survey that shows that in many restaurants the “beautiful people” are always given seats in the window to attract trade whilst the uglies get shoved into a corner by the loos. Naturally Sir Simon said he was always given a window seat. I pointed out that was common practice in the old houses of ill repute in downtown Naples, and that the kind of restaurants Soames and I patronised saw us sitting at discreet corner tables away from other customers and the danger of passing tourists demanding selfies.
Hope to see you at the Reptiles New Year’s Drinks Party next week at “The Nest of Vipers”. Like prohibition America booze served in tea pots and drunk from porcelain cups.
Yours till the next fighting patrol,