Saturday, June 13, 2009

Some vintage Lord Bonkers

Wit and wisdom from Rutland's most celebrated fictional peer.

On the first Gulf War (March 1991)

Yesterday's melancholy has abated and I am now determined to do something to end this dreadful war. Miss Fearn, with her warm heart, is knitting cosies "for the poor camels", but I feel that I am yet capable of playing a larger part.

However, one must take care not to tread on others' toes - I recall the distinctly frosty reception I was given when I turned up at Greenham Common with my bell tent to lend my support to the ladies camping there. This is an injustice that still rankles, for I was always a staunch supporter of women's suffrage. Was I not the first to salute the courage of Miss Emily Davison in throwing herself under the King's horse at Epsom - even though I had managed to back the beast at distinctly favourable odds?

The launch of the Harrogate lifeboat (September 1999)

A dreadful storm this evening. The sky is the colour of Messrs Postlethwaite's Blue Black India Ink (with which, as it happens, I am writing these very words), and it is only because of the distant beam of Knaresborough lighthouse that I am able to find my way back to the hotel. Later, after a stiffener of Auld Johnston, I walk by the shore - the locals have long since barred their shutters and bolted their doors - and watch as the Harrogate lifeboat is launched. There is a crash of thunder and a cry of "God save any soul on The Stray tonight" goes up.

Then, as if by a miracle, a familiar figure in sou'wester and oilskins rows into sight. It is, of course, my old friend David Rendel, the finest oar in the House. Better still, he has with him two picnickers who were cut off by the tide. "You look just like Grace Darling," I call across to him. "Nonsense," he shouts back, "Grace had a bushy black beard. And don't call me 'darling'."

Proving a point with Thor Heyerdahl (July 2002)

I was sad to read of the death of my old friend Thor Heyerdahl. No one gives him much thought now, but in his day he was Quite The Thing. If he thought a set of chaps in one place had come from another place then he jolly well set out to prove it. He was not afraid to sail a papyrus raft from Easter Island to Egypt (or perhaps it was the other way round?) if that would aid him in his pursuit of the truth. It happened that some years ago I had a dispute with the Duke of Rutland over the boundary of our estates. I shall not bore you with the details here: suffice to say I was clearly in the right.

Nevertheless, to prove my point at Law I had to demonstrate that my ancestors has settled the northern shores of Rutland Water. With Heyerdahl's help I was able to construct a vessel from Stilton rinds and recreate their voyage. There was a spring tide running and Ruttie was in playful mood, but we made landfall and the Duke settled out of court.

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