From : Reggie@toptory.lidl.com
Subject : The Weakest Link
It was great fun seeing you at the Point-to-Point at Tweseldown on Saturday and sinking a few whisky macks – I do hope that Mrs Dessie didn’t have too much of a hang-over? I am sorry that Number Ten cancelled your fact finding trip to the Cayman Islands, but I am told every vote was needed for the Infrastructure Bill on Monday. Mind you, ministers gave out more concessions than Tesco’s – and a lot of our weaker brethren had gone Awol.
Your delightful boss, the fragrant Justine, says that in the absence of overseas trips you are undertaking a mammoth trawl through Dfid’s accounts – must remind you of when you were President of the Mess Committee at Catterick following the audit trail of that dodgy Paymaster who had massaged the books to pay for his sex change operation in Thailand. By the by, is he now on the candidates list?
Is it me, or is all politics now reduced to trivia? Can you honestly imagine 40 years ago that the Times would be investigating the Chief Whip’s ring tone on his phone?!! Mind you, what is Gove doing with a ring tone from some chap called Boycie? Wasn’t he a character from Only Fools and Horses? I must admit that my grandchildren set up a ring tone on my mobile and very aptly it plays “Happy Days are Here Again”. I’m told that N Farrago’s plays “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”.
As for all this media fest on who is to appear on the General Election TV debates I despair. Of course the PM is playing a blinder by suggesting every minor party be included – I suppose the Monster Raving Loony Party will demand their place in the spotlight – assuming you don’t think they are represented already. Lady Mary is full of contempt and says if these debates go ahead it will be like that game show The Weakest Link.
Mentioning Lady Mary reminds me of her fury when she realised that the Sun had reneged in what appeared to be a promise to banish the Page Three girls. She has been campaigning on that subject for years, and gave a Strength Through Fear talk when I suggested it was good for the morale of the troops – “Reggie you are out of date and a sexist – 50 per cent of the armed forces are women”.
Mind you, Soames and I thought Page Three was never the same when they cut “News in Brief”. It was supposed to be the thoughts of the girl on that day’s topical subject – she might be worried about Quantitative Easing, with quotes from John Maynard Keynes. There was a suspicion in the tea room that these were written by either Redwood or Letwin without them knowing where they were appearing. So much for All Souls!
I’m glad you were able to attend last week’s “Pale, Male and Stale” dinner for potential candidates. I’m not sure about the venue, but Sir John Randall said that his local Serbian restaurant, “The Chetnik”, was value for money. Like you, I didn’t like the look of the slivovitz. What a hoot having two of the younger aspirants on parade – Hancock and Truss. At least Hancock has the decency to pretend he doesn’t have leadership ambitions, compared to the Truss who is quite shamelessly canvassing. Only another 20 potential candidates to see before we draw stumps. Will my liver last the course?
Soames bent my ear about the leaked story that the Chief of the General Staff was cutting senior army ranks and appointments by a third. “Reggie, I speak for all the boys at the Turf Club when I say this had better not include the Household Division. Plenty of room for manoeuvre at the “fish and chip” end of the army”. I note a deafening silence from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. Of course Frankie Maude is all in favour of these cuts, which he wants to apply across Whitehall. In theory, younger colleagues are in favour but the ministerial aspirants are now less enthusiastic.
I have to say, Dessie, that I wasn’t surprised about that hoax call DC received from allegedly the DG of GCHQ. It seems to me that any tom, dick or bolshevik can get all our mobile phone numbers – not least from those idiotic enough to tweet. It’s said that DC knew it was a hoax because the caller was obviously tired and emotional. Mind you, that could apply to many of the punters who legitimately phone the PM. Perhaps GCHQ will investigate a system of passwords, rather like you and I use when we wish to mislead our lady wives. By the way, remind me: is yours now “Plain packaging”? Mine’s “One for the Strasse”.
I was much amused by the Sunday Times – in conjunction with Debrett’s – listing of the 500 most influential people in Britain. Yesterday I had Bill Cash complaining that he had been excluded whilst Carswell had been included, and a very angry Keith Vaz on similar lives as he had been ignored whilst Maggie Hodge had received starred billing. I told him to think of the old Groucho Marx joke about not wanting to join any club that wanted him as a member.
Ninety-nine days to go to the election, and I wonder how I am going to contain my excitement. Soames keeps disappearing on what he calls “serious environmental work in Norfolk” and I am tempted to join him.
Can we still meet for lunch on Thursday at “The Whistling Leper” off Fleet Street? My treat.
Yours for the duration,