19 AUGUST 1972, Page 18

Gower St archive

Sir: Your suggestion for a Gower Street archive of political anecdotes is a distinctly happy one. Perhaps you will allow me to prime the pump with the following, in case it is new to you. It appeared at the time, quite inconspicuously, in only one Sunday paper. In the course of one of Harold Macmillan's more spectacular cabinet shuffles, Sir Charles Wheeler found himself in a queue for an audience at No 10, doubtless on some routine Royal Academy business. On being eventually admitted, he was promptly offered the Ministry of Housing, apparently on the understanding that he was Sir Keith Joseph. The story has a special appeal for me, if only as a delicious echo of a similar incident in the last century when Sir Harry Johnston, the explorer, was accorded a long interview with Lord Salisbury, under the impression that he was Lord Roberts, victoriously returned from the South African War!

Mention of Lord Salisbury prompts me to recall his classic telegram (cherished by Sir John Betjeman) addressed to his son. Handed in at Waterloo, it read: " Cranborne, Cranborne. Arriving seven Salisbury. Salisbury."

James Brock