There are but few Men who are not Ambitious of distinguishing themselves in the Nation and of growing Considerable among those with whom they converse. There is a kind of Grandeur and Respect which the meanest and most insignificant part of Mankind endeavour to procure in the little Circle of their Friends and Acquaintances. No, good readers, for once your are wrong. On this occasion I write not of Mr John Egan, the high priest of the Lobby Journalists. Lam, instead, reminded of a Member of the Club, one Mr Eddie Wainwright, the puck-like Ruffian from Dearne Valley.
Over the years, this charming, modest man has earned himself no little distinction among those with whom he has conversed. But not, sadly, with Master Andrew Wrath, the political reporter of the Manchester Evening News. Mr Wrath, who once suffered some unnamed humiliation during the McCarthy era in the Americas and who exiled himself from his native shores, finds fault with everyone and almost everything.
Picking on the diminutive Member for Dearne Valley in Annie's Bar last week, this Mr Wrath said: "You, Sir, are a NUMskull." The insult was intended as a pun on Mr Wainwright's former membership of the National Union of Miners.
Mr Wainwright drew himself up to his full height of five feet and aimed a fist at Mr Wrath's head. In the event, he struck the Lobby man a painful blow on the kneecap and as Right Honourable and Honourable Members rushed to part the combatants, Eddie (as' I shall call him for the sake of brevity) shouted: "You skunk".
Several onlookers declared that this was the longest word they had ever heard Eddie use, so he said it again: "You skunk, you skunk". Like a bully, Mr Wrath duly skunked off, muttering something about CIA plots.
The night of the Budget was indeed a boisterous occasion in Annie's watering place. With the Ruffians in disarray after the stop-go pronouncements of Mr Chancellor Healey, tired Members grew more tired as they sought what comfort they could at Annie's bosom. The amiable Member from Ilkeston, that happy Ruffian Mr Ray Fletcher (whom Mr Wrath described as "short, round and bald") actually fell off something known as a bar stool.
Before my Readers jump to premature conclusions, I should explain that a bar stool is very high and Mr Fletcher is very small and as my Uncle Newton proved, if you sit under an apple tree with a Fletcher balanced on the top of a stool ....
Anyway, the newfangled stools are a cumbersome invention, as my good friend Nick Fitzfosse avows. He very nearly did himself a severe injury in the, um, West Country once. Nick tells me that he has devised a wondrous implement called wireless so that he can hear voices from other parts of the World.
The other night he intercepted a broadcast from Russia in which the voice of Tass said: "For the left wing forces of the country the struggle for Britain's withdrawal from the Common Market has become the main
Sleepy investment analysts in the Barclays Bank Pension Fund office in the City were taken by surprise when Stan Gaiter, a gilt-edged dealer, produced his trumpet the other day and started livening the place up. "Usually Mr Gailer is very very quiet", said one of his colleagues, "and hides his instruments under the seat." Mr Gaiter, who plays with the Barclays Bank Orchestra, has had a sympathetic response to his trumpet call from his employers. I understand they regard it as encouraging communal spirit.
Work on an egg
As an occasional painter I'm more alarmed by the price of paint than by the price of eggs. A small tube of oil paint costs about 50p these days. For his first exhibition in the Beaufort Gallery in King's Road, Neville Sattentau has economised by working in gold and silver leaf and egg tempera. "A good egg lasts for about a fortnight before it begins to stink," he says. As his highly ornate pictures can take him as much as 300 hours he has to suffer the smell much longer than that. 'In fact," he adds modestly, "my paintings stink for some time afterwards."
Lord Goodman, who, as I reported last week, is very worried by our declining cultural values, no doubt has in mind the elegant classical headquarters of the Royal Society for the encouragement of arts, manufactures and commerce as a bastion of civilisation. But I am not sure that even with his vast intellectual appetite he could have swallowed all the details of their recent meeting on 'National Parks in Peril' with Lord Sandford and Sir Ralph Verney.
The peregrinations of Sir Ralph, forestry expert for the Royal Commission on environmental pollution, took us to the lime deposits under Kansas City, the forests of Macedonia political battle". The words were not those of the Tass spokesman, but of a certain Mr Gordon McLennan, the general secretary of the Communist Party in Britain. Mr McLennan, of course, is entitled to his opinion (that is if he is capable of forming one). But who are the "left wing forces" of whom he speaks? How left is left? Stand up, Messrs Foot, Benn and Shore and be counted. Tell us if you are shoulder to shoulder with this red hireling whose words are broadcast in Russian by Tass.
At least Mrs 'Harmony Hair Spray' Thatcher has the courage to stand up and be counted. She stood up with Mr Edward Heath, a Visionary, only last week and said that as far as Europe went, Mr Heath was her Master. Does this mean that Harmony is his Mistress?
While I am on this subject, I should mention that there will shortly be a vacancy at Number Ten. The Duchess of Falkender is apparently tired of flower arranging for the Prime Minister and looking after his private office. She wants, I am told, to be mistress of her own destiny. Accordingly, she intends "to go into active politics".
Mr Wilson is bound to miss her. After all these years she knows his ways and where the keys to the wine cellar are kept. Lord George-Brown knows where the keys are kept, but that is not really the same thing, is it?
Applicants will be vetted by Mr Joe Haines, the Prime Minister's storm trooper and press secretary: Mr Haines apparently misunderstood Mr Wilson's instructions and it was for that reason no doubt that the Prime Minister was heard to shout through closed doors at the Club: "Look, Haines, I want none of this heavy vetting".