Saturday, May 26, 2007

Another diary from Lord Bonkers

The latest Liberator is with subscribers, so it is time to publish his lordship's latest effusions here.

Bowling along the lanes of Montgomeryshire in the Bentley I come upon a caravan that has toppled into the ditch. Some poor fellow is trying to haul it out while being shouted at by an unruly band of Romanians who have stayed aboard the van drinking beer - “Hey, Mr Lembit You push harder OK?”. I stop to lend a hand and discover that the unfortunate motorist is none other than our own Lembit Öpik. He stops to wipe his hands on an oily rag and to adjust the little dots over his name, which have been knocked askew. “Have you met Gabriela?” he asks. “And this is Monica, her sister. And this is their mother Margit. This is Margit’s cousin Florian. And this is Florian’s great uncle Dmitri and some of his sons. And their families. And I am not sure who those others are.” I put my shoulder to the wheel and we soon have the van out of the ditch. As it drives away I hear a voice calling “Hey, Mr Lembit, when you take me to meet Madonna? You get me more beer now.” I do hope the poor fellow has chosen his bride wisely.

I am resting at the Hall when a young lady from the local social services department (the workhouse de nos jours) is shown in. “I’ve come to fit you with your tag, Lord Bonkers,” she says. “What’s that?” I reply, turning my ear trumpet to 11. It turns out that the powers that be want to fit me with some new-fangled electric chip that will allow me to be tracked by satellites if I “wander off”. Well, I give her pretty short shrift, as you can imagine - though no gentleman ever fires so as to hit a lady. After she has left, I fall to thinking. Wandering off? It happens all the time at Westminster: there is an important division on the Fish Bill and half your fellows are nowhere to be seen. I telephone the Commons and have myself put through to our Chief Whip. “Burstow,” I say, “I may just have found the answer to your prayers.”

Bonkers House stands in Belgrave Square and I often stay there when on business in London. Thus I take a keen interest in the affairs of the capital and particularly in the Mayoral election. Who is to be the Liberal Democrat standard-bearer this time? Many names have been put forward (some of them have even been members of the party), yet we seem no nearer to finding a candidate. I suggest to the Revd Hughes that he has another go, but he replies that he has so much to do at St Asquith’s in the village that you will seldom find him at St Tatchell’s, Bermondsey, these days. My duty is clear: this morning I have myself measured for a pearly suit then settle down in my Library with Teach Yourself Cockney Rhyming Slang.

Polling day in the Bonkers Hall Ward. I am gratified to be returned again, with the result that I have now served the same patch for well over a hundred years - I believe that this to be something of a record. The odd thing is that in all that time I have never been opposed. There was a young firebrand who announced his intention to put up once, but unfortunately he was devoured by a lion from my short-lived safari park before he was able to get his nomination papers in. One benefit of this lack of competition is that I am able to help the party in other seats, and I spend the day strafing Conservative positions in Hinckley and Bosworth.

Down at Westminster I bump into Lembit Ö pik again; he is rather distractedly fingering a sore place on his neck. I have a look at it for him and am seized with a strange dread. “Did you say Gabriela came from Transylvania?” I ask. “Don’t take this the wrong way, old man, but I didn’t like the look of great uncle Dmitri’s teeth. If I were you I would ask the Revd Hughes for a crucifix and keep a clove of garlic to hand while that old gentleman is about.

The results for the local elections are in. Ming puts a brave face on things, describing them on the electric television as a “mixed bag”. In private I try to persuade him to embrace a more pessimistic analysis, mentioning Waverley, Babergh, Restormel, Wychavon - my sorrow in no way lessened by the fact that I do not have the foggiest ideas where any of these places are. (What happened to sensible names like Market Harborough Rural District Council?) Yet Ming is adamant: he fixes me with an eagle eye and says: “What you are forgetting, Bonkers, is that we won Eastbourne. Elspeth is very fond of Eastbourne.”

If, in these parts, one remarks to a woman upon her beautiful “Rutland”, one means that she has a lovely daughter (Rutland Water, daughter); but if one is says her son is an Uppingham, one is being less complimentary (Uppingham School, fool). Equally, when I was in London the other day I enjoyed the blue pork (pork pie, sky) and, if I were not fortunate enough to own Bonkers House, might have stayed at the mature (mature Stilton, Hilton). You see how it works? Remarkably, it seems that they use a similar rhyming slang in London, or so my new book informs me. I am beginning to think that my being the Liberal Democrats’ candidate for Mayor of London would be a Terribly Good Idea.

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


Anonymous said...


Jonathan Calder said...

Now Ming.

I don't usually edit his lordship's copy, but in this case I thought it advisable.

Anonymous said...

What a silly Lord Bonkers has become!

Babergh is of course the Saxon name for the glories of south Suffolk which include fly fishing on the River Stour (they are, after all, quite large flies), the Essex & Suffolk Drag Queen Hunt and the landscape that inspired Constable - now transfered to more onerous duties in Ipswich.

Toddle pip!