Friday, August 17, 2018

‘It’s getting out of hand’ - More than 200 chickens are taking over a Norfolk housing estate

A chicken yesterday

The Eastern Daily Press wins our Headline of the Day Award.

I have been asked to point out that the judges also enjoyed the complaint from a resident that "the chickens are always crossing the road".

It would have been a very poor result if we hadn't gained Knaresborough last night

There were three local by-elections last night and in one them the Liberal Democrats gained the seat from the Conservatives.

So a good night for us then? .

Each Thursday Andrew Teale published wonderfully detailed previews of that week's by-elections. So let's have a look at last night's results in the light of his preview.

There was a by-election in the Gwynfi ward of Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, but the Liberal Democrats did not field a candidate.

Andrew Teale gives the results for the ward going back to 1983 and there has never been a Lib Dem (or Liberal or SDP) candidate in all that time, so our no-show last night was no surprise.

Incidentally, the Conservatives have not fielded a candidate in Gwynfi since 1983 either. Last night they did and got 4 votes. The seat was gained from Labour by an Independent.

The second by-election was in the East ward of Bury Council and it was a comfortable hold for Labour.

There was a Lib Dem candidate for the first time since 2011, and he came fifth with 2.2 per cent of the vote.

Back in 2004, Andrew Teale records, the only Lib Dem candidate polled over a thousand votes at the council elections in this three-member ward.

The third by-election was in the Knaresborough ward of North Yorkshire County Council and it was here that we made our gain.

Looking at Andrew Teale's preview, however, you find that the Lib Dems held this seat from 2005 to 2017. In other words, it was a ward we could win even during the Coalition.

Which suggests that if we had not gained Knaresborough last night it would have been a sign that we were making no sort of a recovery at all. 

So perhaps we should not get too carried away by this result.

Let me repeat what I wrote in February:
I love to see the Lib Dems gaining seats in local by-elections and tweet the results as eagerly as anyone. 
But, as I have blogged before, we must beware of confirmation bias – our tendency to notice evidence that supports our view (say, that there is a Lib Dem revival taking place) and pass rapidly over evidence that does not. 
I suspect this bias explains why we Lib Dems were disappointed by last year’s general election result and even more why we were shocked when we lost seats in the local elections the month before.
None of this is to detract in any way from the efforts of Lib Dem activists in Knaresborough or anywhere else, who work so hard for these results.

Though, as Simon Titley used to point out, the fact that we have to work so hard to remind our voters that they usually vote for us is a sign of weakness not strength. We have little core support and thus few safe seats.

Let me end on a happier note by saying how much I like Knaresborough. I took the photograph of it above when, many years ago, I was a student at York.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Rediscovering the Lynton & Barnstaple Railway

A journey along the alignment of the former narrow-gauge railway between Barnstaple and Lynton to discover what remains of this line 83 years after its closure.

The line now has an active restoration society.

And while we are talking about it, see my own photograph of Barnstaple Town in 1982.

Lembit Opik will have to use the bars in space now

Photo by Nicolas Gras on Unsplash

He may be the new prime minister of space, but Lembit Opik is having a less happy time of it down here on Earth.

The Daily Mail reports that he has been stripped of his parliamentary pass after breaking the rules about bringing guests into the Palace of Westminster.

As Lembit tried something a little similar at a Liberator disco the first time I ever met him, this does not come as a complete surprise.

What may be a surprise is the Mail's revelation that former MPs who have been convicted of criminal offences, or had to replay large sums received in expenses, hold such passes.

Bishop's Castle Railway weighbridge to be restored

Good news from the Shropshire Star:
The Bishop's Castle Railway Society has started work on the weighbridge building with plans to turn it into a community hub for public use. 
Originally built in 1865, the building is situated in the yard of Charles Ransford & Sons timber, and was home to railway offices and a weighbridge facility. 
Plans have been drawn up to preserve the weighbridge mechanism and restore the building as near to its original state as possible.
I blogged about the railway society's plans a year ago. They are now coming to fruition thanks to a grant from the heritage lottery fund.

Judging by the photo in the Shropshire Star today, the site has already been tidied up since I was there last.

Your move, Gumley.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Gumley is Leicestershire's Bishop's Castle

I have worked out why I like Gumley so much: it reminds me of Bishop's Castle in Shropshire.

Both settlements have a long main street that runs uphill to a building that is no longer there.

In Bishop's Castle it is the castle: in Gumley it is Gumley Hall.

When I was in Gumley on Saturday I noticed that a couple of the large houses on its only street were looking run down.

That is a shame, but it gives it something else in common with its Shropshire cousin.

One of the things I have always liked about Bishop's Castle is that it is not too perfect.

You will get a run of chocolate-box 18th-century houses and then there will be one patched up with corrugated iron. My mother says this is what Bath was like in the 1950s.

Another of the things I like about it is its pubs. And Gumley can complement that too.

In past years The Bell in Gumley has not seemed welcoming. It was always closed when you passed it and had signs up telling you all the things you couldn't do there. But on Saturday it was open, friendly and appeared to be thriving.

And there is one thing Gumley has that Bishop's Castle doesn't: a green telephone box.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Great Chess Movie (1982)

When this documentary was made in chess was dominated by the Soviet Union and world championship matches were hate-filled affairs between the model Soviet citizen Anatoly Karpov and the dissident Victor Korchnoi.

No one foresaw the collapse of the Communist system, though the games of a teenager called Garry Kasparov were already attracting attention around the world and computers were beginning to pose a threat to all but the strongest players.

The film provides a great picture of chess in that era and its leading personalities.

And there is a sad moment for English chess fans right at the start. The name card right at the 1981 Lone Pine tournament saying "Wells, England" is for Ian Wells.

Regarded as our best prospect after Nigel Short, he was to drown the following year aged only 17.

No sign of any action to save Northampton's Eleanor Cross

I last blogged about the struggle to save Northampton's Eleanor Cross a year ago and there has been no good news since.
The Pipeline covered this slow-motion crisis today:
In spite of the cross being listed on the borough’s asset register, through the Winter of 2017/2018 the borough council was still arguing with Northampton County Council, disputing who actually owned the Grade 1 listed monument and was thus legally responsible for paying for the repairs. 
In November 2017, in a move which critics took as a further attempt to postpone having to commit cash for the repairs, the council chose to go with the recommendations of one of its own staff, Building Control Officer Lee Hunter, who suggested that the works could be postponed safely, rather than with the conclusions of the independent experts. 
In the spring of this year Northampton Borough Council finally admitted that it had responsibility for the Eleanor Cross and submitted a grant application to Historic England.

The Pipeline continues:
However, since the first week in May nothing further appears to have happened, while the cross appears to have suffered the further damage shown in photographs published this week on Social Media, including on the Save Our Eleanor Cross Facebook group and now here in thePipeLine.
The website contacted Historic England to ask when work would finally begin, but was referred back to the council.

Having spoken to the council, the Pipeline concludes:
Apart from the appointment of an, unnamed, lead adviser, to add to the extensive advice NBC has already had from Cliveden Conservation, Stress UK and Historic England, the Northampton Eleanor Cross is effectively no closer to repair work actually commencing than it was almost a year ago in October 2017.
It even suggests that the council intends to delay the necessary restoration work for much longer.

Given the council's poor record on preserving the town's heritage recently, it is hard to feel optimistic for the monument's future.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Waiting for the end of an over at Gumley

When you follow the lane past Saddington reservoir you climb a wooded hill and emerge above the village of Gumley.

On that high ground you will find the village cricket ground, which I blogged about nine years ago.

There was a match in progress, allowing me to show you the measures used to control traffic on the very minor road that crosses the field of play.

The way the ground blends into the open countryside, and the village war memorial beside it, give you the feeling that you are looking at a painting. It would fall halfway between the Symbolists and David Inshaw.

Six of the Best 811

"At many junctures in the book, the ability to think historically deserts its author. He describes men such as Hitler as 'short' when their height (5ft 8in in his case) exactly matched the average height of European men at the time; and he describes Churchill as a 'Victorian Whig', though the Whigs’ attitude to the state in legislation such as the 1834 Poor Law was entirely different to Churchill’s." In 2014 Richard J. Evans wrote an enjoyable scathing review of Boris Johnson's study of Winston Churchill.

Oz Katerji looks at the reaction to Israel's rescue of the White Helmets from Assad's Syria.

"Susan and Colin of the Weirdstone Trilogy walk the same paths that Garner walked with his father; around the Edge, up to Stormy Point and past the various wells that litter the path." Adam Scovell looks at the use of landscape in Alan Garner's fiction.

Being Donald Bradman's son was such a burden that for a while John Bradman changed his surname to Bradsen. Belinda Hawkins and Wendy Page meet the family of the greatest batsman cricket has seen.

Philip Wilkinson has found another tin tabernacle. It's at Halse near Brackley.

An Egyptian city built for Cecil B, DeMille is emerging from the Californian sand. Katya Cengel reports.

Important news on the Leicester Class 27

The Class 27 that has been in the sidings at Knighton Junction, a mile south of Leicester, all summer has moved on.

No longer will the tracklaying machines have to listen to its tales of the Scottish Highlands and hauling the Tilbury boat train.

Thanks to the anonymous commenter who gave me this news over the weekend. It is now to be found at the UK Rail Leasing depot just north of Leicester station.

I checked as I passed Knighton this evening and, sure enough, the Class 27 was gone.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Lord Bonkers' Diary: Elven archers and Well-Behaved Orphans

And so, as piracy is driven from the Rutland Union Canal (and from the hills of High Leicestershire more generally), we bid farewell to Lord Bonkers and his many friends and helpers.


What a battle it was! The pirates were assailed from all sides by elven archers and Well-Behaved Orphans with catapults. Then they faced close combat from gamekeepers armed with orchard doughties and badgers armed with powerful jaws.

Eventually, Cook freed herself from her bonds and (before untying Jo Swinson, Layla Moran and Paddy Ashplant) fetched the pirate captain a fearful blow over the head with her soup ladle. After that the fight rather went out of them.

I have not enjoyed a holiday so much in years. Not only that: with a spot of restoration the Rutland Union Canal will make ideal cruising for the more adventurous boater. I think a horse-drawn hotel boat would also prove popular, but I shall pick my moment before suggesting it to Alfred.

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West 1906-10.

Previously in Lord Bonkers' Diary...

The M&S stores in Northampton and Kettering closed yesterday

Yesterday the Marks & Spencer stores in Kettering and Northampton closed for the last time.

Maybe M&S is not the flagship it used to be for a high street, but I fear these closures will hit both towns.

Northampton seems to have a lot of empty shops these days, while Kettering had been going up in the world with better townscaping and the odd chain restaurant appearing.

When the closures were announced a few weeks ago I went to Kettering to take these photos. I bought some socks and found the store was as busy as ever.

The Harborough constituency now backs Remain

More than 100 parliamentary constituencies that voted Leave now back Remain, according to research commissioned by the campaign groups Best for Britain and Hope not Hate.

The Best for Britain site has mapped the results. Click on the Harborough constituency and you will see the following figures.

In 2016 Harborough voted Remain 47.8 per cent, Leave 52.2 per cent.

Today the figures are Remain 50.6 per cent, Leave 49.4 per cent.

The Guardian explains the study's methodology:
Researchers at the Focaldata consumer analytics company compiled the breakdown by modelling two YouGov polls of more than 15,000 people in total, conducted before and after Theresa May published her proposed Brexit deal on 6 July. 
It combined the polling with detailed census information and data from the Office for National Statistics. ... 
The 632 seats in England, Scotland and Wales were examined for the study. It found that 112 had switched from Leave to Remain. The new analysis suggests there are now 341 seats with majority Remain support, up from 229 seats at the referendum.

David Kernan: Sorry-Grateful

The star was David Kernan as Buttons, who had already appeared in Zulu on television in That Was the Week That Was. He was later to become even more famous in Ned Sherrin’s Side by Side by Sondheim. 
I can remember his last scene, singing a song called “I’m Going Away” because his friend Cinderella was marrying Prince Charming. How we loved him!
I wrote that after acquiring the programme for Cinderella at the Watford Palace, which I was taken to see in January 1967.

Since then I have done a bit of research and discovered that it was Kernan who devised Side by Side by Sondheim. Ned Sherrin produced its first staging and acted as the narrator.

I thought this very cool, very English take on Sondheim's Sorry-Grateful must come from a television version of that show.

In fact it comes from an Andre Previn programme on Sondheim made for American television in 1977. And this song (which comes from Company) did not feature in Side by Side by Sondheim.

Let's end with the profile of David |Kernan from my pantomime programme.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Saddington reservoir, the 44 bus and Richard Jefferies

What to do this Saturday? Now we have reasonable weather again, a country walk sounded like a good idea. One by water even more so. But where to walk?

Yesterday the idea hit me. I have seen Saddington reservoir from the garden of the village's pub, the Queen's Head, and remembered a very minor road that went past it from a cycle ride decades ago.

Saddington reservoir was built to supply water to the Leicester line of the Grand Union Canal and now has a sailing club. Despite the many minatory notices, it was possible to walk the length of its dam.

There were no yachts out on the water, only anglers. And, inevitably, I was reminded of Richard Jefferies and Bevis.

After the reservoir, I climbed up to Gumley, walked down the main street of the village (finding its pub open) and then across the fields to Foxton locks.

One sad note: this walk was only possible because the 44 bus took me out to Saddington and home from Foxton. It is one of the routes under serious threat because of cuts to council spending.

Lord Bonkers' Diary: Gamekeepers, elves and so forth

In the interests of balance I should point out that the agricultural depression in eastern Leicestershire has driven many labourers to take up piracy. That and the exciting uniform you get to wear.


"Cast adrift" was perhaps something of a misnomer: "grounded" would be a better word.

Soon after Tom and I have waded ashore, Alfred appears on the towpath. "I expect you want me to fetch help," he says without enthusiasm. "Gamekeepers, elves and so forth."

Off we go at a brisk trot, and I do indeed seek help from those and many other quarters. Tomorrow the Flower of Rutland and her crew will be liberated and the pirates put to flight.

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West 1906-10.

Previously in Lord Bonkers' Diary...

Shreyas Royal can stay in the UK

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Good news from the Guardian:
A nine-year-old chess prodigy has been told he does not have to leave the UK when his father’s work visa expires, a move that has been welcomed by MPs and chess organisations in Britain.
Shreyas Royal has lived in the UK since he was three but was told he would be sent back to India when the work visa expires in September. 
On Friday, his father, Jitendra Singh, said he had received an email that morning, informing him of the Home Office’s change of mind. 
"They just emailed me and told me they had considered my case and we are allowed to extend our leave to remain on tier 2 general route," Singh said. 
"We are very happy and Shreyas is very happy. He jumped up on the sofa when he heard the news. I want to thank all those who helped and supported us ... I would also like to thank the Home Office and the home secretary who considered our case." 
I blogged about this case last week.

Of course not everyone who wants to stay in Britain is the parent of a budding genius, and I hope this affair will not add to the pressure on Shreyas.

But if it shows people how hard it is for people to settle in Britain and reminds them that immigration is not a universally negative phenomenon, then fighting to overturn the original decision will have been worthwhile.

Friday, August 10, 2018

London Overground with Iain Sinclair

The Lost Byway explains:
London Overground retraces legendary London writer Iain Sinclair’s journey with film-maker Andrew Kötting around the Overground railway for the book of the same name. Directed Shot and edited by John Rogers. 
The film follows Sinclair reprising the walk over the course of a year rather than the day’s walk of the book. Iain is once again joined by Kötting in parts, along with Chris Petit (director of Radio On) and Bill Parry-Davies on the 35-mile circular yomp. 
London Overground charts Sinclair walking through this changing landscape from his home in Hackney, through Shoreditch down to Wapping where he revisits his earlier book Downriver. 
In the company of Andrew Kötting once more they ramble in both senses from the Thames foreshore at Rotherhithe through Canada Water, Surrey Quays to Queens Road Peckham. 
At Willesden Junction he is joined by film-maker and author Chris Petit as they survey the developments around Old Oak Common. Sinclair and Kötting walk through the night to reprise their original yomp in reverse. 
Dalston is surveyed with local campaigner Bill Parry-Davies logging what has been lost in the rampant redevelopment and checking in on cherished corners of the area. We meet noir novelist Cathi Unsworth at Shepherds Bush/Westfield and artist Marcia Farquhar in Kentish Town. 
What emerges from the film is a snapshot of the city in transition and also a unique insight into the most important chronicler of contemporary Londoner. 
"The city," Sinclair says at one point, "is a series of psychic mappings that reinforce our own identity".

Lord Bonkers' Diary: Why are there so many orphans in Rutland?

In which young Tom asks a question that has long troubled me too.


I write these lines having been cast adrift in an open boat after the Flower of Rutland was seized by pirates. At least they were proper pirates – wooden legs, hooked hands, parrots – not like those rather disappointing Somalis one used to see on the television news. Mind you, I do not appreciate beings addressed as a “scurvy dog” – by the pirate captain or his parrot.

My only companion is Tom, who proves a quick-witted child as he has smuggled some bottles of Smithson &; Greaves Northern Bitter aboard under the very noses of the pirates. Perhaps he is too quick-witted: “Why are there so many orphans in Rutland, your lordship?” he asks with a steady gaze.

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West 1906-10.

Previously in Lord Bonkers' Diary...

Six of the Best 810

Nick Harvey introduces the Liberal Democrats' 2017 general election review - or at least the version that has been made public.

"The proposed Lib Dem immigration policy is simply not fit for purpose. I knew this as soon as I saw the consultation questions, which were all on the theme of 'immigration: threat or menace?' and 'how much should we punish immigrants? A lot, or more than that?'" Andrew Hickey tells it like it is.

Martin Sewell asks why there has been no Church of England inquiry into the crimes of John Smyth.

Peter Kinderman presents six 'psychological' terms that psychologists never use.

"Dickens uses the "no-popery" uprising inspired by Lord George Gordon’s inflammatory rhetoric against the Roman Catholic "infiltration" of Britain in the 18th century as a means of attacking mob mentality and the hijacking of political causes for crude personal gain. Recommended reading in Brexit Britain, trust me." Joe Sommerlad praises Barnaby Rudge - and seven other lesser-known novels by well-know authors.

"It’s one of those sad English clerk and wife experience strange mystic growth in the dreary London suburbs-type possibly-fairies affairs." John Holbo has been reading Arthur Machen/s A Fragment of Life.

The Lord Mayor of Leicester's head is too big for his hat

Ross Grant, Leicester's new Lord Mayor, has found that his head is too big for the Ruritarian hat that goes with the role.

Liberal England gives a meaningful look at camera 2.

Some kind person, the Leicester Mercury reports, has offered to buy him a bigger hat - and well done, incidentally, to the Labour group for allowing the city's only Conservative councillor to take up this role. I wish the Tories who run Harborough were so civilised.

Anyway, this story reminds me of a couple of earlier posts on this blog about the Lord Mayor of Leicester.

The first involves ill-fitting clothing too. Back in 2010, one of the winners of Headline of the Day was the Leicester Mercury's

Lord Mayor's trousers fall down at children's event

Perhaps mercifully, the link to the accompanying news story no longer works.

The second post dates from the following year, when we quoted Westwood and Simpson's The Lore of the Land:
An odd story formerly current was that the mayor of Leicester was chosen by a sow. According to an article in the St James's Magazine in 1762, aspiring candidates would each sit with a hat full of beans in his lap and the new mayor would be the one from whose hat the sow ate first.
Would a larger hat be an advantage in such a contest?

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Talking chess at the Bonkers' Arms

If, as literary scholars increasingly maintain, Bonkers Hall was modelled on Nevill Holt, then Medbourne must be the inspiration for the village at its gates.

Which means that the Nevill Arms in Medbourne must be the inspiration for the Bonkers' Arms, that source of good beer, good conversation and good political sense..

If I am honest, the Neville Arms is rather neater than I imagine the Bonkers' Arms. Nor does it serve Smithson & Greaves Northern Bitter.

But it is a good pub and also home to cafe that serves food in the courtyard all day.

When I arrived there after photographing Nevill Holt I found that someone I work with in Leicester was there with her husband, who used to be one of Leicestershire's best chess players.

I first met him back in the 1970s when his mother gave me a lift to a tournament in Kettering.

We talked of chess openings and Leicestershire players that are gone.

Lord Bonkers' Diary: Somewhere in High Leicestershire

Reader's voice: Isn't this meant to be political satire?

Liberal England replies: Lord Bonkers and his diaries are protean. This week I am deepening readers' understanding of his character and those of his associates while exploring the landscape he loves.

Reader does not give up: So you are just being self indulgent?

Liberal England has the last word: Yes, but you have given me the chance to do the sort of self-referential piece that everyone has copied from Stewart Lee.


The morning begins on a distasteful note when I find the Elves of Rockingham F. have charged me mooring fees for yesterday evening – particularly galling as these are my woods. I find myself somewhat in sympathy with Cook’s view that they are “nasty heathen things,” but it is best to keep in with these fellows. I have Tom post a cheque at the first sub post office we encounter.

Matters do not improve, for we find the canal increasingly hard going. Locks are jammed, the channel silted and weeded, and the sun beats down without mercy. If it were not for the brute strength of Alfred (and Jo Swinson and Layla Moran) we should make no progress at all. “It’s all too reminiscent of the Barnsley Central by-election,” Alfred remarks.

In the cool of the evening we moor outside a public house somewhere in the wilds of High Leicestershire. The landlord and locals are adamant that we should venture no further west, warning of “pirates” if you please. What rot!

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West 1906-10.

Previously in Lord Bonkers' Diary...

Police called as angry goat chases women up trees in Telford

A goat yesterday

Once again, our Headline of the Day Award goes to the Shropshire Star:
Officers said neither the women or the animal were harmed but they could not prevent the goat from eating one of the women's handbags.

Liberal Democrats regain overall control of South Somerset

Photo of Yeovil Pen Mill station © Roger Cornfoot

The decision by a Conservative member of South Somerset District Council's to join the Liberal Democrat group has given us overall control of the council.

The Yeovil Lib Dems website explains:
In the 2015 SSDC election, the Liberal Democrats won 29 seats to the Conservatives’ 28.  However, the 3 Independents decided to support a continuing Liberal Democrat administration. Shortly after the election Cllr Amanda Broom (Chard) left the Tory party and joined the Liberal Democrats and now Cllr Neil Bloomfield has done the same meaning once again The Liberal Democrats are in overall control. 
Over the past three years under a Liberal Democrat administration the Council has robustly tackled the reducing grant from central Government and met the £6m shortfall by transforming the delivery of Council services at an annual saving of £2.5m and increasing income from its investments to deliver a further £3.5m of extra income. Against the national trend, this strong financial position means no cuts to public services.
South Somerset covers the whole of the Yeovil constituency and part of Somerton and Frome.

Featured on Liberal Democrat VoiceThe Lib Dems have controlled the council since 1987. You can find the results of the 2015 elections there on Wikipedia.

h/t Mark Pack.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Stanley Unwin goes Inside Victor Lewis-Smith in 1993

Stanley Unwin found it hard to retire as he kept being rediscovered by new generations of producers.

In 1993 he appeared in the comedy series Inside Victor Lewis-Smith.

According to Wikipedia and my vague memories, this BBC Two series (in which Lewis-Smith himself hardly appeared) was set in the Frank Bough Memorial Zip Injury Wing of St. Reith's, a BBC hospital for its fallen stars.

It took place inside the head of a man completely saturated with television and suffering from a hyperactive spleen.

Lord Bonkers' Diary: The Great Seal of Rutland dives in

So far things are going surprisingly well with the old boy's voyage along the Rutland Union Canal.


A splendid first day, though Ruttie, the Rutland Water Monster, is in playful mood when we enter the first lock and almost capsizes us. Then we take a wrong turning and perform two laps of the moat at Bonkers Hall without Ashplant noticing anything amiss before the Great Seal of Rutland dives in to show us the way out. As we pass through villages, locals come out to cheer and warn us of shallows and shoals ahead.

We moor for the evening on a wooded stretch and soon meet the King of the Badgers at the head of a hunting party. He promises to Have A Word with the foxes who have been depredating my tenants’ chicken runs and in return I undertake to give Gove one up the snoot the very next time an opportunity presents itself.

Then we hear strange music and see lights among the trees. Who should it be but my old friends the Elves of Rockingham Forest? What an evening we have! The elves play their ancient songs (aeolian cadences and so forth) while I supply a selection of music hall songs upon the banjulele.

Ashplant then tells an amusing anecdote about two tribes of his acquaintance, and Tom, the aforementioned Well-Behaved Orphan and cabin boy, proves to have the sort of voice that moves elderly ladies to weep and dig deeply into their purses when the communion plate is passed around. I shall recommend him to the Revd Hughes.

Lord Bonkers was Liberal MP for Rutland South West 1906-10.

Previously in Lord Bonkers' Diary...

Will Leicestershire County Council ever see its £5m again?

If you were making a list of the worst organisations to grant an unsecured loan, Northamptonshire County Council would be somewhere near the top.

But that is precisely what Leicestershire County Council did, loaning them £5m at an interest rate of 0.75 per cent.

As Bill Boulter, the doyen of Leicestershire Lib Dems, observed to the Leicester Mercury:
“There was enough indication that Northamptonshire was in financial trouble before that loan. 
“They were saying it themselves. Yet still we gave them the money. ... 
“The Tory run council in Leicestershire is planning to close children’s centres and make millions of pounds of cuts but we still have £5 million to loan to another struggling council.”
I am unable to confirm rumours that Leicestershire County Council has spent a further £5m on buying London Bridge and some magic beans.