Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 11 June 2012
...and some have it thrust upon them.
This week has got off to a cracking start, with the news that our Prime Minister (David Cameron) and his wife went to lunch at a pub last week with their eight year-old daughter, then realised they had completely forgotten about her - but only after they had got home! He had to get back into the car and go to collect her from the bewildered staff of the pub! 10 Downing Street should be getting a visit from Social Services some time in the near future.
The rich and eccentric man whose house we had dinner in last night has - I forgot to mention yesterday - been dead for a couple of hundred years now, so he could not be there to greet us.
His name was Sir William Beckford, and is widely remembered for his belvedere tower which looms over Bath on the Northern hills; the massive wall that he built around the estate to prevent fox-hunting which he abhorred (David); the tower of Fonthill Abbey, near Shaftesbury which was the tallest in Europe at the time - but not for long - it collapsed a year or two after it was built; his book 'Vathek' (amongst many others), which he pretended was translated from the Arabic and brought back from his Grand Tour, and - last but not least - the rumour that he lived with his sister in an incestuous relationship - an allegation which was never proved.
I have been wanting to get inside his magnificent house for about 40 years, and last night I did. The views from the bay-windows are also magnificent, and well worth the evening in themselves. Our host was the director of a local museum, and a more neat, tidy and attentive one you have never met. The Polish taxi-driver on the way home (it was raining, and H.I. had heels, ok?) said that he had picked him up only once, but was struck by "... everything in right place. Coat, briefcase, hair - even moustache, yes?"
Because the party was in honour of the birthdays of two town councillors - one of them an old friend of H.I.'s - the throng consisted of about 50% of Bath's Liberal Democrat representatives, but I managed to keep my mouth shut for most of the time.
The ex chairman of the council had obviously forgotten who I was, and struggled to place me during a somewhat strained conversation which ended with her asking if I would like to be introduced to H.I., and me telling her that this was not really necessary as I had known her for 40 years and been living with her for 20 of them.
The present Leader of the council introduced himself to me and we had a chat about this and that, but he terminated the conversation pretty quickly when I mentioned my friendship with his arch rival, a Conservative who has recently defected to 'independent' status because there is no official party which is right-wing enough to accommodate his views - views which he himself describes as 'a little to the right of Genghis Khan and a little to the left of Adolf Hitler'.
I wish I could have captured the way the smile dropped from the face of the Leader on camera. My 'independent' councillor mate conducted his election campaign in a somewhat unorthodox manner by going around the ward telling everyone that they would be fools to vote for him, because he was a one-issue candidate who was only interested in furthering his own ambitions. And guess what? They voted him in. He now flatly refuses to answer any questions with regard to pot-holes in the streets and spends most of his time in meetings, reading a newspaper.
His electoral success hinges on one event in particular, I believe, when he was fighting for the seat of his predecessor who - at the time - was mortally ill in hospital and fighting for his life. It is true to say that there was no love lost between them, and my mate had verbally insulted him on many occasions, but it is also true to say that he has done the same to just about everyone he has spoken to in his life, so it may not have been personal. He is a hoot to go out drinking with, if something of a liability.
He was approaching 70 years old when on his campaign, and one evening he found himself walking up the steps to the house of a notorious left-winger in his ward, and the left-winger mistook him for his rival who - it has already been mentioned - was in hospital at the time.
Lefty (as I shall call him) came to his front door before my mate had opened the garden gate, and shouted at him to 'go away' and stop sticking seditious literature through his letterbox.
Quickly realising that this was a case of mistaken identity, my mate stood in the street shouting at Lefty, calling him a 'fucking cunt' and threatening to punch the daylights out of him if he dared approach any nearer.
Lefty wrote a formal letter of complaint to the party (copy to the local paper) erroneously naming the foul-mouthed and violent miscreant, and the party explained that this distressing event could not have taken place, for the reasons already given.
Oh, and he stuffed the landlord of a nearby pub up his own chimney once. He may be old and small, but he - like John Prescott - is an ex seaman. Enough said.