My Dear Dessie,
Following the reshuffle at the end of term – and that was the usual horlicks – I never got the opportunity to have a glass of the old firewater with you to celebrate your new job at the Voluntary Service Overseas department. Your good lady told me that they have sent you off to foreign parts complete with a new lightweight suit and a Gladstone bag full of sovereigns to disperse largesse – but why the United Emirates need our dosh I don’t know: surely these days it is the other way round?
Be that as it may, I thought I would email you with news from the home front. You probably saw on the wires a lot of hot air in the tabloids about Cameron jetting off on holiday instead of staying in the Fuhrerbunker dealing with world crisis. A bit rich, as nearly all the articles were written by the junior hacks and hackettes who usually cover gardening and Youtube whilst the political reptiles are imbibing the sangria on the Algarve.
Of course Margaret and G. Brown were workaholics and hated hols, but I’m with Cameron that any sensible PM needs a break with the family. Where I disagree with him is in choosing Cornwall – full of Fulham farmers and the K&C set. Lady Mary and I always head off to Northumberland for the bracing air, robust fodder and no chance of seeing colleagues – apart from the Old Knuckleduster (a.k.a David Davis) yomping along Hadrian’s Wall.
We’ve come back to a typical Commons crisis over Speaker Bercow trying to fix some Aussie Sheila for the Chief Clerk’s post. As usual, the Speaker is having a tantrum and throwing all his toys out of his cot. But he may have bitten off more that he can chew and, in the words of the Late Marshal Foch re Les Boches, “Il sont dans la Puree” – which, loosely translated, means he is well and truly in the ordure.
Last Thursday, I happened to have popped into the old Palace of Varieties and was having a cup of latte with Soames when the news came through that one of our backbenchers called Carswell had done a bunk, gone awol and joined Farrago’s UKIP mob. As you can imagine, I couldn’t get much sense out of Soames, with much expletives deleted. I must say, Dessie, I wasn’t quite sure who he was, couldn’t put a face to a name until I bumped into Bill Cash in the library. I keep getting Carswell, Hannan and that strange bird Dominic Cummings muddled up. Easily done, as there is something about them which reminds me of the late Keith Joseph – the Mad Monk’s return, I hear you say.
Bill, as you can imagine, was very critical. “Big mistake by Carswell, just when we had the final push for the EU referendum. Not that I am one to complain, Reggie, but he and his ilk – johnnie-come-latelys – think that old lags like Redwood, Shepherd and your humble servant are political dinosaurs. And to think we have been on the EU case for 30 years when they were still doing their GCSE’s! I ask you Reggie, whatever happened to the Old Tory Party’s secret weapon – loyalty?”
Well, Dessie, this has really set the old pussy amongst the vermin, and colleagues are all over the place. Some are thinking of forming a new group based on the Republican Tea Cosy Party whilst others don’t know their arse from their elbow and mistakenly think that the Whips will give them a steer. Now that Sir G Young has retired hurt, the Chief’s Office no longer resonates to the sound of Radio 3 and the walls covered by Eton College group photos. Under Brother Gove there is Lady Gaga and portraits of Lenin and Che Guevara, God help us.
This week I’m attending the inaugural meeting of a new Tory dining club, the PMS – based on the fact that all its members are Pale, Male and Stale. There should be about 60 of us, with several lady colleagues who, by definition of either being passed over or sacked, have honorary membership.
God knows, Dessie, I have done my best to steady the ship over the past few months but even I sometimes despair at the colleagues.
I look forward to seeing you next week when you return from your foreign travels. If not, perhaps we can meet in the Conference season for a snifter at “The Whistling Leper “ at Ringwood.
Yours ‘til the next round,