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Lord Bonkers’ Diary 317
29 March 2007 (09:31:26)


I must apologise for my unwonted absence from these columns in February, though I was pleased to see that the amusing young people at Liberator magazine had the good sense to reprint some of my more informative diary entries – I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did. I have been gratified, too, by the cards, flowers and jars of calves’ foot jelly that have arrived by every post, and only this morning Meadowcroft brought me a pineapple from his glasshouse. As a rule I enjoy robust – even rude – health, and I have long attributed this to my mother having Nurse dip me in the Spring of Immortality that bubbles from the mountainside about the Birchcliffe Centre in Hebden Bridge when I was still an infant. Unfortunately, the silly goose held me by a part of my anatomy whilst she bathed me, with the result that nowadays it sometimes gives me gyp. You will be pleased to learn, however, that my strength is fast returning: only this morning I walked unaided to the village school to hear the children sing selections from the work of T. H. Green.


Whilst laid up in bed, I heard our own Dr Evan Harris on the modern wireless defending scientists’ production of chimera – or is it pronounced chimera? One never knows – that is, hybrids between man and rabbit. I am not surprised. When last helping at an election in Oxford, I noticed that the bulk of our election literature was being delivered by creatures that walked upon their hind legs and sported long floppy ears. One simply handed them a map and a bundle of leaflets, and off they went lippity, lippity. I asked Harris if there would be any problem in my getting a few of these fellows to deliver in Rutland, but he assured me that they breed like rabbits.


What a boon these mobile telephones are! One must, however, remember to leave them switched on. At Harrogate, for instance, I obtained a copy of Sir Menzies’s speech just as he reached the rostrum. Scanning it quickly, I found it to contain some nonsense about Gordon Brown embracing liberal democracy, with not a mention of Proportional Representation – a subject without which no speaker ever roused an audience. As he was not far into things, I naturally prepared to give him a bell and suggest some rather more suitable material. Just as I was dialling his number, the delightful Elspeth informed me that she had just told him to turn his phone off – with results that were only too clear from the following day’s newspapers.


Quite the saddest event of the year so far has been the ending of the engagement between the delightful Sian Lloyd and our own Lembit Öpik. The Member for Montgomery, you will have read, has instead taken up with one of the Cheeky Girls, though I am not convinced that even he could say which one with any confidence. One must be wary of continually harking back to the ‘Good Old Days’, but I have to say that I cannot recall having trouble of this sort with Clement Davies and the Beverley Sisters. I am sure we all wish Miss Lloyd all the best, and I have to say that if I were her and, in the course of my meteorological researches, spied an asteroid heading for Lembit’s head, I should not mention it.


Advised by my doctor that I should not overtax my strength, I spend the day in bed, dictating letters, sending orders to Meadowcroft and so forth. Quite an exhausting day.


I am pleased to see the Irish cricket team doing so well at the World Cup; indeed, one wonders whether poor Ed Joyce did the right thing by throwing in his lot with England rather than continue to appear for his native land. Joyce, incidentally, comes from a distinguished cricketing family. One thinks of James Joyce, who was the author of Useless (which, I must confess, I was never able to finish) and an accomplished cover point. I fear, however, that William Joyce’s achievements as a lower middle order batsman have been quite eclipsed by his treachery during the Second World War, when he earned himself the soubriquet ‘Lord Haw Haw’. (By coincidence, I was known in my younger days as ‘Lord Ha-Ha’ because of my love for landscape gardening). No such obloquy should be attached to Ed Joyce’s mother Joyce Joyce , who was for many years a mainstay of the Irish women’s team.


And so to St Asquith’s for a Service of Thanksgiving for my recovery. People are Terribly Kind.

Lord Bonkers, who was Liberal MP for Rutland South-West 1906-10, opened his diary to Jonathan Calder.

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