REGGIE largeFrom :

To :  

Subject :    First Day Back at School

Dear Dessie,

What a balls-aching start to this wretched fortnight return in between our summer hols and the dreaded Party Conference season.  The Old Palace like a building site, with the Members Tea Room out of bounds due to rats or asbestos or both, and the Smoking Room converted as an alternative Members NAAFI.  Much chortling in our ranks, as the old Labour lags who are not on the Corbyn ticket have turned the adjacent chess room into a culinary bunker.

I’m sorry that we only had a passing word in the lobby on Monday night due to those interminable votes on “purdah” and the EU referendum – what was that gortex tracksuit you were wearing?  Not the kind of thing a Reserve Officer should be seen in!  Of course most of the afternoon was taken up with refugees and drone strikes.  The SNP in uproar because Labour had humbugged their intention of having a debate on Wednesday afternoon on refugees and the cruel indifference of the Government, with Yvette Cooper (a.k.a Mrs Ed Balls) being granted a debate on the same subject yesterday by the Speaker – favours returned for her hubbie’s support, but as a consequence 50-odd enraged Jocks.

I know you are about to fly off and do your foreign aid duty in Jordan, and well might you ask – as some impertinent reptile has – just how many Syrian refugees is yours truly taking in?   None allocated is the reply, as the local charities have worked out that our house under the “Strength through Fear” regime of Lady Mary is no place for vulnerable people (on those grounds, I should have been evacuated years ago).

On the EU and purdah, of course the whips are spitting tacks at our colleagues who voted with Labour and the SNP – seeing Brothers Cash and Jenkin cosying up to them was a rerun of the 1990s.  We lost a crucial vote, and according to our political expert in the Lords – Prof Norton – this was the first time a Government has been defeated so soon after an election.  What a triumph for our usual suspects: Government doing well, opinion polls sunny, Labour on the ropes with the old Bolshie Corbyn about to be anointed Leader, and our lot managing to piss all over Cameron’s parade.

As you know, Dessie, I have little time for the EU, but I think W Cash and B Jenkin have lost the plot when they tell me that Herr Junker, the EU Gauleiter in Brussels, is secretly inserting EU agents into the country and activating their “Sleepers” in Whitehall to con the great British public.  Fatal flaw in this conspiracy theory is these EU bureaucrats couldn’t organise the proverbial in a brewery.

I’m sorry that you and the memsahib couldn’t make it to our summer retreat in Northumberland.  I did see you on the tellie laying a wreath at the old Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Singapore on VJ day.  I attended a veterans gathering here in Newcastle and didn’t find much condemnation about dropping the old “A” bombs on Japan.  Most of those old survivors reckon they would have been rubbed out sooner rather than later, and on the whole were very grateful to the old yank fly boys.

How was my summer, you ask?  On the whole, quite restful.  As you know we have this rambling old house on the coast – a bequest from Lady Mary’s Uncle Wilfred who dabbled on the stock market and collected Chinese houseboys.  The family come and go, and I spend a lot of time holed up in the annex which I call “the sanctuary”.  Grandchildren turn up when they run out of cash.  I keep out of Lady Mary’s way who organises the local ladies in good works and acts as hostess to all comers.

I was allowed to have visitors – grub at the local hostelry “The Rampant Pilum” – and liquid refreshments, conversation and old Ealing comedies on the TV back at the sanctuary.  On that subject, a sad day when George Cole went to the great auditorium in the sky.  I loved him playing the wide boy in the St Trinian films and later as Arthur Daley in Minder – a series that said everything about Margaret Thatcher’s Britain: happy days.

Anyway, amongst convivial visitors I had Soames – arrives like a force of nature and hoovers up all edible and drinkable assets.  In between what he calls “serious environmental work”, which means shooting everything in sight that can walk, run, crawl or fly.  He was much taken by one of our neighbours – a tough old farmer, who objected to some nerds flying their drones over his property, and promptly set up a shoot in a hide and their guns brought down half a dozen. Shades of “Plonker” Bates and his air defence gunners in Germany who on exercise shot down – by mistake – the local mayor in his light aircraft – fortunately no casualties apart from “Plonker’s” career.

Soames was distracted by the downturn in the Chinese economy and kept phoning his broker to “buy/sell” indiscriminately.  “I tell you this Reggie,” Soames opined, “I know that the boys at White’s are not happy, and have delegated me to express their concerns to the old C of E, G Osborne Esq.”

One of the saddest visitors was my old Labour chum Kevan Jones, Durham MP and amateur military historian.  We downed several beakers of firewater whilst he expressed himself in colourful language about our latter day “Trot J Corbyn”.  I tried to cheer him up by saying that the “Weathervane”, otherwise known as A Burnham, might still have a photo finish win.  Wrong thing to say, as K Jones is a firm supporter of Mrs Balls.

The great advantage of Northumberland is that we don’t see many of the so-called London smart set – too far north and not many facilities.  I know the PM loves going to Cornwall, but how he can stand all those “wa-was” from the Home Counties beats me: designer clothes, designer food and designer sports – no ferret racing there!

On the whole I didn’t follow the news – BBC World Service last thing at night, and I had to listen to a lot of luvvies complaining about government cuts. Sporting Life and at the weekend The Times and the Daily Mail – the latter what my grandchildren refer to as the “Daily Prejudice”.

You know, Dessie, I realise that the hacks get desperate for stories in August, but so much of it is total crap based upon trivia as our leaders are desperate to spin out favourable stories.  All that nonsense over what kind of wellies the PM should have worn to visit the floods – he should have just worn the old ones rather than cheap, cheerful and obviously new ones from Asda!  Of course in the days of Macmillan he would have borrowed his gardener’s wellies, but that’s definitely not today’s image.

I’m fed up reading all these health stories.  There was a ludicrous report that we over 65s are drinking too much – who says and does it matter?!  You remember the old army definition of an alcoholic – someone who drinks more than their doctor – which in the case of Colonel Doctor “Ein für der strasse” Metcalfe meant we were all defined as teetotal.

What with a punter taking a photo of the PM on some bucket shop flight to the Med eating pringles – poor devil, he probably wanted a large gin and tonic and bacon sandwich – and the NHS funding yoga and therapy sessions to relieve stress and reduce the weight of staff, I despair!  My worry is that some bright spark – are there any, I hear you murmur? – in the Whips Office will suggest this for the Parliamentary Party.  You and I get rid of our stress and take exercise at the bar of any convenient hostelry by upending glasses of liquid health.

Forgive this rant, but I sometimes wonder whether we have progressed very far since my childhood in the 1940s – oh for the days of chilblains and rationing.  My cup overfloweth when I contemplate the PMs dissolution honours list.  I know PMs have always sent a weird collection to the old Upper House  – Mrs T was no exception and that old rogue Macmillan introduced Lifers.  But really, it seems to Soames and me that any old Tom, Dick and Abdul can be nodded through to join the Great Residential Home on the Embankment.

You will probably still be away on your charitable travels next week so we will have to rendez vous at some ghastly modern watering hotel at the Reichsparteikonferenz  – remember the “AC/DC” bar last year – I shudder at the memory of that appalling cocktail Soames persuaded me to down – “the Psychedelic Orgasm”. Named after which colleague, I heard a reptiles ask?!

Yours till opening time,