Suitable for Ermine?

The Conservative Home Blog is seeking suggestions for new Members of the House of Lords for when the Cameron Government is elected.

There have been a considerable number of nominations already.  

This blog adds its own view.

The denouement – and that’s a big word for a pussy cat!

Many thanks for your kind message. It is nice to know that our friends have been thinking of us. I can definitely bring you up to date on what has been happening here. There have been dramatic developments in the last twenty four hours but, fortunately, the crisis now appears to be over.
 
As you know, a couple of months ago, one of our local residents, a businessman (and ex-politician from many years ago) known as the Guvnor, got it into his head that he wanted to go back to Westminster as a peer. We heard that he was thinking about making changes to his house to reflect what he hoped would be his new position and, more worryingly, to ours by creating a vast new country house and a theme park supported by business concessions. He didn’t just stop there but also started campaigning to become chairman of his party’s National (?Naturist?) Convention. It looked as though Westminster, Whitehall and the local authority were going to let this happen despite our objections and protests from The Dog and Duck. We were even told that some people from a barber shop’s choir, the G-20, Barack and Michelle, Nicko and Carla, Angela and some others were coming down this weekend to cut the first sod and celebrate the start of this major development.
 
Imagine our surprise last night. There were helicopters and searchlights overhead, a lot of banging, the sounds of drums being beaten, of swearing and of whistles being blown, all on the orders of some Scots Presbyterian character, Gordo, who was furious because the Guvnor was top banana on the evening’s TV news’ bulletins rather than him. Titan apparently believed it was the end of the world, the last trump, while the other horses in his container, Atlas, Goliath and Hercules, thought these terrifying sounds were the mating calls of the lost trumpers. In fact, they were all wrong. It was a raid on No.** in our lane by English Heritage and the Royal Fine Arts Commission backed by DEFRA, the emergency services and the local authority to discover exactly what the Guvnor and his accomplices had been up to.
 
Trudy (a.k.a. Ermintrude) tells me they have made some disturbing finds. One of the containers hidden in the trees had a series of frescoes showing the Guvnor scaling Hassenbrook Heights, of him leading the charge of the Heavy Brigade up Eriff Drive, capturing the Arndale Centre and Luton Town Hall, addressing a packed House of Commons from the front bench with a video recording in his hand and counselling a nervous ‘Major’ whilst the latter shaved in Downing Street, all ready to be installed in the Palace of Westminster. Another container held a primitive forge and half-cast bronze statues of him in his hunting gear on Titan’s back and in his peer’s robes for erection in Parliament Square and outside Buckingham Palace. “Bad taste doesn’t come into it”, one of the Fine Arts people said, “there must be prosecutions”.
 
The servants had obviously been tipped off in advance and had already fled before the raid. Old Melvin, the head of parking and personnel, left his frock coat, gunners’ shirt, velvet knee breeches and white wig on top of the car park barrier while the Costlies left a full chamber pot supported by a niblick over their bedroom door. His Lordship’s secretary and the gardener were found drinking their sorrows away under a table in The Bell. Miss Zara could not be found at all although a Gloucester rugby club jock-strap was found at the top of the flag-pole. As for the horses and their gypsies, they made their getaway down the High Street disguised as the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Your guess is as good as mine as to where any of these are now.
 
The Guvnor himself is now in custody being examined by medical experts. It is all very sad but, given time, I am sure his condition can be treated.  There have inevitably been big changes in his household since this raid. Trudy has now moved in to the main part of the house and is occupying the master bedroom where I hope to see her very soon. So, all’s well that ends well,
                                                                                yours ever,
                                                                                 Barney

A “virtual peerage”

Let me say how impressed I have been by the contributions to this debate on “the guvnor’s suitability” for elevation to the peerage.   As the private secretary to His Grace, the Duke of …. , I have some knowledge of the qualities required for the role.   It seems to me that the solution lies not in bestowing a patent of creation upon him or in issuing a writ of summons to the House of Lords but in the members of the ‘Bright team’ addressing him for the future as “Your Lordship”.   Correspondents should do the same and those describing his future activities should refer to him as “His Lordship”.   This will give “the guvnor” the respect and satisfaction he seeks whilst saving the country the allowances he would be eligible to claim if actually raised to the peerage.   In these straitened times, every economy is necessary and must be taken by an incoming Cameron government.   I commend my proposal to your consideration and remain
                                                       your most humble and obedient servant
                                                       Cholmondley Cromer-Sheringham

Lack of respect brings disappointment for Guvnor

The Guvnor and Mrs Guvnor set off for Cheltenham last weekend with high hopes.

The Guvnor had hit on a splendid new wheeze.    He would put himself up for election as Chairman of the Volunteers.   He was sure this would help him on his road to the Ermine.

He asked the Roo to set up a website for him, and told everyone that “colleagues are supporting me because they feel that I have the authority and respect of both the political and professional sides of the Party to be listened to and get the voluntary view over at all levels and at all times.”

Unfortunately the respect due to age and experience was a bit in short supply around the Racecourse, and the voters went for a younger, energetic man, very decisively.   “Of course, I’m disappointed”, the Guvnor said, “but I’ll just keep concentrating on all the other plans I’ve made to make me fit to be a Peer.   I know Dave will see sense and send me to the Lords  –  or somewhere!”

Titan’s Tale

It has been a tremendously exciting few weeks since I arrived at my new stables.   That is probably a bit of an exaggeration since I am living in an old container acquired second-hand from Tilbury docks at the moment, but my stable girl, Zara, has promised me we’ll be getting something palatial really soon.   Anyway, the Guvnor and I have been out a few times and went to our first  meeting  with the South  C…shire hunt last week.   The Guvnor looked splendid:  he had shiny new boots ordered in Newmarket from the best supplier used by Lester Piggott, jodhpurs from a sail-maker’s in Lowestoft specially stiffened to make them more aerodynamic, an ermine-trimmed blue silk shirt and a smart red riding jacket.   After he was winched onto my back, an operation performed in record time,  we set off for the Horse and Groom pub at the nearby village of F…. where the day’s hunting was to begin.
 
It had all gone pretty well up to then.   I was enjoying some oats and the Guvnor a glass of spring water as the local gentry and farmers assembled, some of them looking enviously in our direction.   I don’t suppose they had seen anything quite so striking in a long time in this part of the world.    But the joint-masters, Sir Grafton Ponsonby-Manners and his wife, Lady Letitia, took exception to the flashing electric lights on the back of the Guvnor’s jacket announcing who he had been sponsored by – some obscure American slimming company – and insisted he took it off.   They also wanted him to remove his shirt with the logo “Dave Rools, OK”,  but some of the other riders drew the line at semi-nude huntsmen even if they were peers in waiting.   Sir Grafton made some remark I did not quite catch about “people broad in the beam and ???? in the head”, and other people queried why a carthorse should be riding out but the Guvnor and I rose above it all and ignored them.   Then we were off  across the fields and through the woods chasing  after a “roo”, whatever that is.
 
We were following Lady Letitia’s grey cob, Snooty, whose ample dimensions the Guvnor and I greatly admired – I mean the Guvnor admired Lady Letitia’s pert rear while I admired Snooty’s – when disaster struck.   On the edge of Battleship wood, Snooty hopped over a small stream, skipped over a wooden fence and jumped onwards.   Since I can’t hop, skip or jump, I had to soar.   I did  soar over the stream and the fence.   It was my moment of triumph and a great weight off my back.    The boots and the jodhpurs soared too.   The Guvnor rose dramatically in the world just as he had always wanted to do.   He just didn’t come down.   He was caught by his red braces in the overhanging branches, his embarrassment precariously protected by his Calvin Kleins, completely unable to get down.   The rest of us rode on oblivious to his predicament to a nice warm drink back at the Horse and Groom with a chap smelling of anniseed.
 
The Guvnor was found a couple of hours later by two ‘Sabbs’ who had been following us.   They thought the cries they could hear were from a vixen at bay but it was actually him calling in a high-pitched voice for help.   The emergency services were summoned, but the fire brigade had no ladder long enough to reach him and efforts by the Ambulance men to sedate him using a blowpipe failed.   Eventually, a heavy-lift Chinook helicopter was summoned from RAF Culdrose and he was taken to Addenbrookes to be treated for frostbite and hypothermia.
 
There have been quite a few changes since he got home last week.   Coming down the Newmarket by-pass, he spotted a few caravans with some large horses.   The occupants told him they were ‘gauchos’ from Argentina over for this summer’s polo season.   The idea struck a bell with him.   Hunting is out at Cumberland Castle, polo is in!    He bought their horses – Atlas, Goliath and Hercules – which are just as big as I am, and hired them to train all four of us for a tournament at the Hurlingham Club in April.    The other horses are sharing my container, although Zara has been threatening to go on strike over all the horse s..t she’s having to shovel and the ‘gauchos’ have parked their caravans under the Guvnor’s trees.   We’ve been practising with croquet mallets, (bought second hand from Homebase),  on his lawn but no one has actually hit a ball yet.   But the Guvnor is confident we’ll all be there ready to impress Liz and Phil, Charlie and Annie and other members of  ‘the firm’, with whom he is hoping to close a business deal covering all their establishments.
 
I am a bit more worried about this new turn of events.   There is a very clever cat called Ermintrude living here, who appears to know a lot more about what is happening than I do.   In between her assignations with Barney, the ginger tom from a couple of doors away, she has let on that the ‘gauchos’ are actually gypsies on the run from the Crays Hill settlement in Essex;  that the Hurlingham Club will never let us in;  and that the Guvnor is not going to be a peer.

We must just wait to see which way the wind is blowing.
                                                        yours ever,
                                                              Titan

Planning Department Memorandum

Memorandum from:  Chief Executive and Director for Planning of    ….. District Council

To the Cabinet Member for Planning
 
This is to alert you and other members of the Cabinet to a large-scale planning application which is expected to be submitted to the Council in the near future for approval.   Since it touches fundamentally upon policies approved by this Council in its planning policy guidance, the County Council and the Regional Assembly, it is likely to attract the attention of Government Ministers and of the national press as well as arousing some local opposition.
 
The Council has been aware for some time from its contacts in the local community, (Agent code-named Barney), that a major planning proposal would be coming forward in the present cycle.   In outline, this involves the re-location of three local villages to facilitate the creation of a new country house modelled on Chatsworth, the creation of a park of over one thousand acres including a zoo of the kind to be found at Longleat and an  entertainment complex along the lines of that at Alton Towers.   The proposed house will include a large stable block for horses, an equestrian centre (named after a ‘Zara Philips’), a polo ground and a heliport.   It will be sponsored by an American food company and, so I am told, the royal family.
 
The prospective applicant is a reclusive local businessman known as “Big ‘G'”, who has indicated to me that he is about to become a ‘big noise’ at Westminster.   Two of his representatives, Dave and Dick, who have interests in the used car trade, have called on the Council’s officers to impress on us the importance of speedy approval of this project.   25 jobs will be created in the local economy, a significant factor in the recession and one likely to attract the support of the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer,  although, on the downside, 27,000 people will be made homeless.   Mr G’s representatives additionally explained that he would soon be in a position to revive the original purposes and use of Star Chamber Court should this application be refused.   The Council’s legal department is seeking the advice of learned counsel, Mr Martian-Andrews, Q.C., on the implications.
 
Your officers, who have enjoyed a number of day trips to Chatsworth, Longleat and Alton Towers and who have been promised free rides on the Ely Eye, the roller coaster and the water chutes for the next ten years, are minded to recommend approval of this application when it comes before the Council.   Cabinet members’ views are sought.

A Cat’s Eye View

It only took a few weeks.  There I was with my brothers and sisters at our home in the pet shop when I picked a nice old couple of visitors to own.  The accommodation was good – almost out in the country with a nice stream running past my house and a bit of woodland – lots of good food, a warm bed, plenty of squirrels to chase, everything a cat could want. 

But a few nights ago, Barney, the ginger tom from a couple of doors down the lane – he fancies me, I just know – told me his humans had been crying and swearing over some aristocat (aristocrat?) who’s going to have their houses pulled down, everyone shifted out and the local villages moved.  Apparently, there’s going to be a new castle, Cumberland Towers, with crenellated battlements, built here.  It will have a moat and a vast park with a ha ha, a zoo a la Longleat, and a theme park like the one at Alton Towers with a funfair, rides and water-chutes, all sponsored by some American dietary company.  It will have a reflective balloon with the slogan “Brightness is Beautiful” flying over it and visible for fifty miles.  Bad taste, huh?

I was too ashamed to tell Barney this is all my doing or rather my humans’ doing.  They have been really strange recently.  A tailor called a couple of days ago to see my man and was told he’d better find some more ermine pretty quickly if he wanted the order for next year.  It was either that or finding some other form of fur.   (I don’t want to frighten you but he has been looking at me in an odd way since then.  The RSPCA’s number is in the telephone book in case I don’t make our next assignation, by the way.)   Yesterday, a couple of Purdeys arrived, which I thought meant Joanna Lumley was coming to stay, but he has been blasting away ever since at the squirrels in the trees giving them and me a headache.  His aim isn’t much good but they have told me, (having seen Crocodile Dundee), that they will be firing back if this goes on any longer.  Most worryingly, someone from the local hunt turned up with a horse and a mounting block.  Titan, that’s his name, is enormous:  he weighs a couple of tons and stands 24 hands high.  A box containing a small crane for lifting riders onto his back came at the same time and is being assembled on the forecourt as I write.  Evidently, he plans to go out riding with the hunt some time next year as long as they don’t chase foxes.

It is all very worrying.  I was going to sign off  with my usual name of Trudy but I have been told I am now going to be called      “Ermintrude”.        Can you believe it?

Memorandum from Block Rad to the Corporal-at-Arms

As you will know, our office receives inquiries from members of the public from time to time.  Normally, I should not feel it necessary to alert you to such inquiries but one my secretary, Miss Gribblethwaite, took last week was of a sufficiently eccentric nature as to warrant my doing so.
 
She was apparently contacted on the telephone by a person she described as “an Essex wide boy” and told that he would shortly be returning to the Palace and wanted to be sure that appropriate arrangements will be in place for his reception.  He asked to be put in touch with the Captain Nemo who had “done” Sir Winston Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square so that his – in Roman dress seated on horseback with one arm aloft – could be put alongside Winnie’s in Parliament Square.  Miss Gribblethwaite tried to explain that he was confusing the fictional ‘Captain Nemo’ with the late Mr Oscar Nemon, who was in a place not even Mr Speaker Martin could reach however early he left on a Thursday.
 
Her caller then went on to outline his plans for a new set of frescoes, which he would supply free of charge, for St Stephen’s chapel and the two Houses’ lobbies.  These appear prima facie to relate to his own career and victories.  Part of this package contained a proposal to replace the Post Office in the central lobby with a health food shop.  He even offered to split the “take”, although she might have misheard this – “cake” is a possibility.  A similar (and successful) offer was evidently made to the House of Commons’ catering department twenty or so years ago.  Miss Gribblethwaite was promised  “a very good time” on the Costa Blanca or Brava or anywhere else she liked if she went along with this scheme.
 
I have, of course, referred this matter to my House’s sleaze-busting committee and to Bates of the Yard.  Miss Gribblethwaite had to be taken to St Thomas’s Hospital suffering from nervous prostration and may not be well enough to return to work for some months.  She asked to be remembered to you in the postcard I had yesterday from her apartment in the Grisons.