|I don’t know about you, but I find these modern-day scandals awfully dull. Who
cares if [redacted] has been playing fast and loose with [redacted], if you have
no idea who [redacted] is? In fact, I am not sure I would recognise [redacted]
if he walked into the Bonkers Arms either. How different things were in the
past! Harold Macmillan’s daughter Sarah turned out not to be his daughter at all
but to have been fathered by Bob Boothby (a kinsman of our own Ludicrous
Kennedy), who was also supplied with boys by the Kray Twins. Now that is what I
call a scandal!
Fortunately, we Liberal Democrats are not implicated in these matters. I give no
credence to the story about [redacted] and the glass-topped table, I have little
time for the notion that [redacted] enjoys being spanked and, despite what you
may have read on the electric internet, I have never [redacted] with [redacted]
or [redacted redacted] either!
“Have you seen the results, man?” I demanded as I burst into the Deputy Prime
Minister’s office. “It’s a disaster.” “Don’t worry,” he replied, “I have the
answer: Muscular Liberalism.”
Muscular Liberalism? I have my doubts about that. After all: one rarely saw L.T.
Hobhouse in footer bags. We Bonkers were ever loyal, however, so this morning I
enjoy an early breakfast and then hurry to the barracks of the Queen’s Own
Rutland Highlanders (of whom I happen to be Colonel-in-Chief) outside Oakham.
And, you know, Clegg may be on to something. Can it be true, as I have heard
claimed, that Hebden Bridge has ceased production of the Bonkers Patent
Exploding Focus for use in Marginal Wards? Certainly, it is not unusual today to
come across young activists who do not know one end of an orchard doughty from
the other. It is clear that Something Must Be Done, and that it must involve
Swedish drill and Indian clubs.
So I have summoned all Liberal Democrat MPs and peers for training in unarmed
combat under the gentle care of Regimental Sergeant Major Carmichael – it is
Indian clubs and Swedish drill all round. Unfortunately, I have to leave early
for a gala luncheon, but I am on hand long enough to hear plenty of this sort of
thing going on.
“What’s your name, you ’orrible little man?” “Lamb, Sergeant Major.” “Lamb? I
don’t want you to be a lamb: I want you to be a tiger. Now roar!” “Greurrrgh!
Sergeant Major.” “That’s better, lad. Now give him one up the [redacted] snoot
An elderly man sits in a large house behind high walls watching films of his
earlier triumphs when a group of American Navy Seals breaks in and shoots him
dead. Dash it, it could happen to anyone! Osama bin Laden (who met his demise in
Abbottabad, named after the popular comedian Russ Abbott) was, it has to be
admitted, one of nature’s bad hats, but his demise did make me think. Only the
other evening I was watching my speech to the Hunstanton Assembly of the
National League of Young Liberals in 1948 (“If we tighten our belts, put our
shoulders to the wheel and our noses to the grindstone, we shall regain the
sunlit uplands before the year is out...”) when I heard a noise outside. I went
to look. It turned out to be a fox (or perhaps a stray member of the Elves of
Rockingham Forest), but what if it had been a herd of those seals? I am not
altogether surprised that the American Navy is making use of them: if they are
anything like the Great Seal of Rutland, who can give you a nasty nip if you rub
him up the wrong way. I give word for the shutters to be locked, barred and
bolted this evening – it’s not as if I have the first Lady Bonkers on hand to
I am often asked what accounts for the sad demise of Lembit Öpik. Having
contrived to lose a seat that we Liberals had held for all but four of the last
130 years, he was last heard of filming a “reality moving television” series
with Michael Barrymore, whose once-stellar career went into sharp decline after
[redacted] the shallow end. I fear this will do nothing to restore his
credibility (Barrymore, I mean, obviously).
But what, as I say, accounts for Öpik's demise? I feel Lord Acton, at whose feet
I sat as a very young man, put his finger on the explanation when he wrote: “All
Powys tends to corrupt; absolute Powys corrupts absolutely.”
For some inexplicable reason, the belief that Twitter is a recent invention is
now widely entertained. Nothing could be further from the truth. Though of late
it has made use of the latest technology, the service was in widespread use as
early as the 1920s. Several times a day, the Twitter boy would bicycle up the
drive here at the hall in his buttoned suit and peaked cap, bringing a short
message from one of my friends: “OMG Winston Churchill has rejoined the Tories”,
“WTF is the Commonwealth Party??? LOL”, that sort of thing. Then there was the
role of the notorious “Zinoviev Tweet” in Labour’s defeat in the 1924 general
election. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.
There is, however, one important difference between Twitter now and then. Back
in the twenties, someone like your diarist, who had many followers and a great
deal to say for himself, kept simply dozens of Twitter Boys in useful
employment, crisscrossing the country on their bicycles. Today those self-same
messages go by electric interweb while the youths sit in bus shelters drinking
white cider. I shall draw this to my fellow ministers’ attention at the next
Lord Bonkers, who was Liberal MP for Rutland South West 1906-10, opened his
diary to Jonathan Calder
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