Thursday, November 25, 2010

My speech to Leicester Writers Club annual dinner

Last Thursday I gave the speech at the dinner of Leicester Writers Club. I won't reproduce the whole thing here, but it leant heavily on some of my old House Points columns in Liberal Democrat News.

It also included two of my favourite jokes:
Two prawns talking: "I'm really worried about Mum and Dad. They went to a cocktail party last night and they haven't come home yet.
My friend drinks brake fluid. But it's all right: he says he can stop any time he wants.
I leaned heavily on Julian Critchley's no doubt greatly exaggerated anecdote about the Conservative MP David James. In the general election of 1964, where Harold Wilson scraped in with a majority of three, the closest result was at Brighton Kemptown where James lost to Labour by seven votes.

According to Critchley, he spent the campaign by the shores of the loch, sending occasional telegrams to Sussex saying: "Have almost found the monster. Hope all goes well with the campaign." Happily this did not prevent his finding another seat.

Oh, and I repeated my favourite political story:
A keen new Conservative MP is sitting in the house, staring intently at the Labour benches.

"What're you doin', young Tompkins?" asked an old buffer, sitting down next to him.

"Staring at the enemy, sir."

"No, that's the opposition. The enemy is on this side."
I also won one of the club's awards: The Penfold Media Trophy, which takes the form of an optical toy (a sort of kaleidoscope, except that it distorts the view) I can keep for a year. It was chiefly for my trip to New York for Oxfam.

Two years ago I won the Trudy Dubb Award for non-fiction - the first cup I have won since my chess-playing days. This is all very generous of them, considering how rarely I read my work at the club. These days as soon as I have written something I press Publish or Send.

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