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Lord Bonkers’ Diary 350
15 December 2011 (00:03:59)


What a splendid fellow Prince William is! Tall, upstanding and brave, he has a delightful wife and his wife’s sister has a bottom like a Cox’s Orange Pippin. He even rescued some Russian sailors in his helicopter the other day. The only drawback is that it has to be admitted that he does look remarkably like a horse – I am told that, when the winch failed in that rescue, he let down his silky tail and lifted the last man to safety himself.

So much does he resemble a horse that I have no alternative but to conclude that the story – widely circulated in my young day – that Queen Mary was rogered by a past winner of the 2,000 Guineas after a particularly jolly party at Newmarket is true after all.


To Avonmouth Docks to wave off the Jeremy Browne. What with the current economic problems on the mainland of Europe, it has become clear that our relations with China will become increasingly important. To that end, I have arranged for a Jeremy Browne to be presented to Peking Zoo so that the Chinese may enjoy viewing this delightful denizen of our English countryside.

Later I call in at a village hostelry and fall into conversation with a fellow whose family has been farming Jeremy Brownes on the Mendips for generations. He is not sanguine about my plans, informing me that Jeremy Brownes are very choosy about their diet and usually unwilling to mate in public.


Who should I meet in Westminster but my old friend Mike Hancock? I ask him to pass on my congratulations to the delightful Katia Zatuliveter for her victory at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. I have never had much time for our Intelligence people: every one of them I knew in the 1930s turned out to be working for the Russians, and I don’t suppose things have changed very much since. Besides, as I remarked to my personal secretary and masseuse Eva Vestoff only this morning, if every attractive young woman with an interest in British politics were sent home, then the business of government would soon grind to a halt. They are known, I believe, as ‘interns’.

Eva, incidentally, used to live in Italy, joined its (at least until recently) governing Bunga Bunga Party and served briefly in the Cabinet there.


You do hear a great deal about my old friend John Maynard Keynes these days, don’t you? This warms my heart, because he was the soundest of men: an Apostle, President of Cambridge University Liberal Club, adviser to Lloyd George in the Great War and founder of the Arts Council. I never could quite get my mind around his economic ideas, but when you hear people say that we should borrow lots of money and, if we have trouble paying it back, borrow even more, while citing the great man in support of their views, I cannot help feeling there was More To It than that.

Keynes, incidentally, was author of the pamphlet “Can Lloyd George Do It?” The consensus amongst reviewers was that he could – and did so frequently.


I was sad see to those Pakistani fellows jailed for bowling no balls. If such strictures had been applied in the 1970s, then our own Bob Willis would be breaking rocks on Portland Bill to this day. I was myself attached to the Special Investigations Branch of the MCC for a number of years, and it was heartbreaking work. More than one county scorer cut his throat on a dark winter’s afternoon, as the pilot flame in his Ascot water heater guttered, over discrepancies in the leg byes account.

Later, you may recall, I chaired the committee of inquiry into allegations over irregularities in the betting on local authority by-elections in the 1950 and 1960s. Few think of it today, but it was the most tremendous scandal in its day and many of the aspects of local elections we now take for granted - the ban on having the polling station in the home of one of the candidates, the discouragement of firearms at the verification of papers, the oath of celibacy for agents - have their roots in The Bonkers Report.


As an enthusiast for the Noble Art, I was naturally distraught at the death of Smokin’ Joe Frazier. How well I remember his trilogy of battles with the great Muhammad Ali! The greatest of these, of course, was the ‘Thriller in Manila’, and it was about then that I turned my mind to the revival of heavyweight boxing here in Rutland. With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps my ideas smacked too much of the circus, but audiences had dwindled to an alarming extent. So it was that I first staged the Heavyweight Championship of Rutland in a large brown envelope, promoting it as the ‘Thriller in Manila’. This was followed by a return bout in an enormous ice cream bowl – the ‘Thriller in Vanilla’.


There has been a lot of nonsense written in recent weeks about ‘fracking’ – that is, drilling into hard shale rocks and then setting off small explosions to crack them and release the gas inside – which I have been practising here in Rutland. One local newspaper (not my own High Leicestershire Radical, I hasten to add) printed its report under the headline “IT’S FRACKING HELL SAY VILLAGERS”; I thought that was in particularly poor taste. Let me make it clear: Rutland has always been subject to earthquakes, as anyone who has studied its history will know. To connect them with my fracking is simply...

I am sorry, Meadowcroft came in just then, complaining that he had narrowly missed being hit on the head by a stone that had fallen from the battlements as he was digging in the kitchen garden. I pointed out that there is bound to be some settlement in old houses like mine and suggested that he got on with his work. He left mumbling something about Trotsky.

There has been, as I was pointing out, a lot of nonsense talked in recent weeks. In particular, the Revd Hughes’s refusal to mount the pulpit of St Asquith’s until he had been given a hard hat seemed to be particularly unfortunate. And did he have to take as his text Zechariah, xi, 2 “Howl, fir tree, for the mighty cedar is fallen”? It set a bad example to the choirboys...

I say, could anyone dig a chap out of all this rubble?

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

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