Monday, December 28, 2009

The Liberal England Year: Part 1

It is time to look back on 2009 - as it was recorded on this blog.


The first month of the year saw (a little depressingly) the best received House Points: David Miliband goes bananas.

The death of the former Labour MP Bert Hazell at the age of 101 led me to wonder who the oldest former Liberal MPs were. Though Clement Freud, who was in second place, died later in the year, the winner, George Mackie, is happily still with us. There was also some interesting debate on forgotten Liberal MPs of the 1960s in the comments.

I also discovered the longest-lived former MP of all: Theodore Cooke Taylor, Liberal Member for Radcliffe cum Farnworth in Lancashire from 1900 to 1918, who lived to be 102.

And I argued that official guidance on children and alcohol would make things worse - but then I am at an age when I believe official guidance makes most things worse.


I discussed the abolition of private life in the light of rows over a praying nurse and over Carol Thatcher and golliwogs.

I asked whether Australian soap operas cause multiple sclerosis and became very interested in a scandal in Pennsylvania where judges were taking bribes from the operators of private prisons to increase the number of juvenile offenders they locked up.

Oh, and I lost my column for the New Statesman website. The magazine has never really recovered.


A favourite story of an old headmaster of mine - about the same man being the model for both Christ and Judas - turned up in an unexpected place.

The same man (not the same same man, of course) also turned out to have been Mitch Mitchell in the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Wendover (as in "Bend over, Wendover") in the Jimmy Edwards film Bottoms Up.

I also discovered an important book for the history of public childcare in an unlikely place and loved the story of Christian the lion cub.


The month began with some thoughts on children and classical music.

Lord Bonkers went shooting squirrels with Rupert Redesdale while House Points looked at police harassment of photographers.

Throughout the year I have been following Stuart Syvret and his run ins with the Jersey authorities. (The national press lost interest in the island when the police investigations failed to produce children's bodies.) The strangest episode was when the police deleted the number of the Lib Dem MP John Hemming from Stuart's mobile before returning it.

Their plan did not work. Stuart is now living in exile in John's London home.


My question of the month was: Is Keynesian demand management politically possible?

I reproduced Professor Strange's views on trainspotting, autism and what it means to be normal and argued that the scandal over MPs' expenses was part of the fall out from the credit crunch.

Reminiscence of the month was the tale of how I sang on the West End stage with Danny La Rue. He died a couple of days after that posting was made. I do hope the two events were not connected.


House Points took aim at Tony Benn and also discussed corrupt elections in Bishop's Castle.

On another outing with my camera I discovered the prep school Gladstone's eldest son attended in Geddington.

My Sunday music videos continued throughout the year. One of my favourite discoveries was That's How Strong My Love Is by Creation - a band I had hardly heard of before.

Part 2 will follow tomorrow.

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