From : Reggie@toptory.lidl.com
Subject : “WellBeing Agenda”
I tried to phone you early on Monday morning, but you weren’t back from your daily dip in the serpentine. You are a braver man than I, Gunga Din, for even in June Jack Frost’s icy fingers must be squeezing the old fundamentals. Now your memsahib tells me you are in Zurich at a “donors conference”. I hope that’s not a euphemism for FIFA – I take it that oily chap Sepp Dietrich, I mean Blatter, doesn’t qualify for a sum of HMG’s lolly?
I didn’t think you were in the Chamber last week when Alex Salmond, Scotland’s own cheerie chappie, tried to squash “La Pasionara” (a.k.a Anna Soubry)? These days not a good idea to patronise the ladies, and he got short shift on the Twittersphere (note how easily that flows from my pen but I haven’t the foggiest idea what it means – I rely on my eight year old grandson Charlie who can also operate my Ipad).
Of course as a minister, you aren’t entitled to vote for all these chairs of select committees. I have been deluged with CVs – most of which fall foul of the Trades Description Act – and accosted by candidates who until recently have never acknowledged my presence. One of them was that loud mouthed Labour virago who our rough trade call “Mrs Slocombe” with all the associated ribaldry!
You will have seen that we have a new Select Committee on Women and Equality issues. Soames had the wicked idea of nominating Shipley’s own Philip Davies for the chair, not known for his political correctness. I made the error of jovially telling this to Lady Mary who phoned NS and gave him a first class bollocking the likes of which he used to receive from his late mama.
Since being re-elected as an officer of the 1922 – I am the Old Farts representative – G Brady, our shop steward, nominated me to attend our Female Ministers Breakfast Club to brief them on issues worrying the ’22: the equivalent of being sent out on a fighting patrol against the Japs in Burma. It was very aptly held in the Boothroyd Room with dozens of lady ministers – and to my alarm – all the new women MPs. Lots of muesli and fruit and not a rasher of bacon or sausage in sight.
It was chaired by Nicky Morgan, who is a latter-day Joyce Grenfell – “jolly hockey sticks and crumpets for tea”. It appeared that Mrs May, who normally chairs the breakfast, was giving the Met Commissioner an interview without coffee. I did my spiel – I’ve learnt to model myself on Boris J and appear more stupid that I am. Of course G. Osborne once cuttingly remarked that as an Old Boy of Wellington College that was a contradiction in terms.
Anyway, I got out more or less in one piece, like a Lancaster bomber limping home after a brush with the Luftwaffe. I needed a stiff drink and found the bar in the Sports and Social Club still open from last night – SNP members spread out in the prone and unsupported position. Reminded me of attending that Corporals’ Mess Hogmanay in Stirling with the Argyll and Bolton Wanderers.
The Whips are running a tight ship, and I am amazed that you were allowed to go to Zurich. But they have some rum ideas about managing the colleagues. Gone are the days of being locked in the latrines after a bollocking from the Chief, or a quadruple whisky and soda for a timeserving speech.
No, it appears they have consulted the Dame who now runs Cheltenham Ladies College. Soames was shocked to hear that she is doing away with Prep because it is too stressful, and pupils are attending weekly “meditation classes”. Our new Whips Office are following her example, and have published a “Wellbeing agenda”. On receiving his copy, Soames phoned me in a state of shock: “God alone knows Reggie, I try to remain loyal, but as I said to the boys at the bar at the Beefsteak, I think the tribe has lost its marbles”. Anyway, the next time I miss a vote I shall plead stress and ask for a week’s relaxation in a sunny clime.
It’s time we held another Pale, Male and Stale dinner. But I see we now have a rival because that young gal Chloe Smith – remember she was sent out by George O. as a sacrificial lamb on one of his budgets and got shredded by Paxman, who I never thought was quite sixteen annas to the rupee. Anyway, she has told the press that she is forming a dining club called “The Young Ones” for MPs under 35. Ken Clarke has suggested we form one called “The Oldies” – criteria for membership age and experience, which is at a serious discount in this man’s army.
Of course the big issue over the past forty-eight hours has been the fallout from the PM’s comments at the G7 Summit at that Schloss in Bavaria. We were told by the Colonel (a.k.a Keith Simpson) that it had been an SS Officer Training School during the late hostilities – must have created just the right atmosphere. Then came the PM’s comments that any minister who wanted to campaign for “Out” on the EU referendum would have to hand in his red box and luncheon vouchers. Well, the old proverbials really hit the fan here at the Palace of Varieties.
Grist to the mill for this is a new backbench pressure group “Conservatives for Britain” run by a nice ex- RAF chap called Baker: I know, nobody has heard of him, but he is a useful front man for D. Hannan and the usual suspects. Yesterday at 04.30 hours I was woken from a blissful slumber by a call from E Llewelyn at the Bavarian Schloss. He’d forgotten that on Boche time he was ahead of Reggie time. Much salaaming and apologies, but what did I think the reaction of colleagues had been to the PM’s führerbefehl, which in any case had been misinterpreted by the press pack who were all tired and emotional on Bavarian beer?
I said about as popular as not giving MPs their pay rise which really struck home. Anyway, the PM blamed the reptiles, and poor old Hammond had the difficult task of introducing the EU bill yesterday afternoon. Trouble is, Dessie, whilst I have every sympathy with the critics of the EU, some of our colleagues are totally paranoid and live in a diet of conspiracy and betrayal – back to the ’90s!
I hope to get to Epsom some time this week and if you are free you are welcome to join Soames and myself in the PLU (People Like Us) marquee. Just mention our names and the password: ”Freebies”.
Yours till reveille,