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Lord Bonkers’ Diary 314
12 November 2006 (19:58:43)

Monday

The morning’s newspapers are full of reports that the authorities once feared that militant Suffragettes were plotting to assassinate Asquith. The first Lady Bonkers, I am proud to say, was a great supporter of ‘Votes for Women’ and never slow to take action to further her cause – an observer once remarked that, had she thrown herself under the King’s horse, the beast would have been stopped in its tracks, if not shunted back several yards. She was also, it has to be admitted, a crack shot, able to bring down a passing widgeon with a single barrel, who would often borrow my gentleman’s collapsible travelling rifle range if she was staying in Town. Yet I have no hesitation in maintaining that she was never involved in any scheme to bump off the Prime Minister: the unfortunate injuries suffered by the Master of Elibank here at the Hall one winter’s morning were agreed by all impartial observers to be entirely his own fault.

Tuesday

To York to conduct some delicate negotiations with the Joseph Rowntree Trust. You may recall that, during the recent Liberal Democrat Conference in Brighton, Sir Menzies Campbell (as his friends call him) announced the establishment of a fund to help women and other minority candidates, the first £200,000 of which was to be provided by the aforementioned charity. Ever anxious to do my bit on behalf of the fairer sex, I asked some of our lady candidates what the greatest problem they face is; the general view was that having to look after children is a fearful bind when there is a constituency newspaper to distribute to one’s deliverers or an interview to be given to one‘s local radio station. I have therefore reserved a number of places at the Bonkers’ Home for Well-Behaved Orphans for the sole use of the children of female Liberal Democrat candidates in target seats. I wish to emphasise what an attractive offer this is: Here at the Home we offer what may fairly be called “wrap-around” care – particularly since the new wall was erected. We have also taken on board today’s concern about child obesity, as anyone who studies the diet we offer will see. The purpose of today’s negotiations in York was to ensure that the £200,000 was paid directly to me: the last thing we wish to see is this fund wasted in paying for red tape and pen-pushers.

Wednesday

Should one worry at reports that North Korea has tested its first atomic bomb? I think not. It happens that I visited Pyongyang recently and am therefore able to reveal that the people in that unfortunate land are poor as church mice. From my observations it is simply unthinkable that they could afford all the uranium – or whatever the boffins at the Ministry put in the wretched things – needed to make an A bomb. Nevertheless, one should not underestimate the ingenuity that smaller nations can display when planning their own defence: here in Rutland we were making good progress with a weapon employing extra mature Stilton (though it was eventually ruled illegal under Article IV of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention). Some will ask what explains the seismograph activity detected in Korea at the time of the supposed explosion: has it not occurred to them that one million peasants dressed in identical boiler suits and all shouting “Bang!” at the same time will have a tolerably large effect?

Thursday

My own breakfast television station has enjoyed a chequered history – and one time it had to be rescued by a glove puppet named Rutland Rat – but these days it is on a firm footing. Watching the news I am shocked by the scenes it portrays: people without shelter, without food or drink, without hope. Yes, the people queuing to get into the Conservative Conference – simple-minded folk who ask no more than a chance to call for the return of the birch or applaud Ian Smith’s regime in Rhodesia – are in terrible straits. My duty is clear: I have the Bentley loaded with luncheon baskets and set off for Bournemouth. I arrive to find a shadow minister pleading with the doorman: “But don’t you know who I am?” The doorman ponders a moment and replies “No.”

Friday

I have given strict instructions that should that swarthy little Maradonna fellow turn up at the Home he should be shown the door – and quite possibly the rough end of an orchard doughty too. He has a record of using illicit substances and some of us have not yet forgiven a certain handball yet either. All in all, he is not a suitable person to be a parent, as these “children’s rights campaigners” one hears quoted everywhere would no doubt agree. Incidentally, it is pleasing that these campaigners are devoting their efforts to keeping children in orphanages: at one time they used to try to spring them.

Saturday

Passing through Winchester I feel suddenly peckish and – “any port in a storm” and all that – enter a McDonald’s restaurant. The table service proves disappointingly slow, but I am able to attract the manager’s attention eventually. The minion he dispatches to take my order is strangely familiar and when he asks “Um large or um regular?” I am able to put a name to a face. “Rising Star!!” I exclaim, “What the devil are you doing here?” “Examining career opportunities after I leave Parliament” he says in his best Westminster voice, before lapsing into broad Cherokee: “Rising Star find new job. Um squaw make heap big trouble.”

Sunday

To St Asquith’s where, I am happy to report, after poor Kennedy’s recent “difficulties with the script,” the Reverend Hughes is word perfect. His reading is taken from one of the gospels and I think there is a lot in what it has to say. Later I am informed that my negotiations with the Rowntree Trust have borne fruit to such an extent that that august institution has donated two million pounds to the Liberal Democrats – no doubt there is something about my share to be found in the small print. After our experience with Mr Michael Brown, I hope that the party will exercise due diligence and ensure that Rowntree’s is a bona fide company. No doubt there will be volunteers to test its products.

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

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