15 MARCH 1975, Page 7

Westminster Corridors

We are generally so much pleased with any little accomplishments, either of body or mind, which have once made us remarkable in this World, that we endeavour to persuade ourselves that it is not in the power of Time to rob us of them. We are eternally pursuing the same methods which first procured us the applauses of men.

It was with these words in mind that the other day I attended upon our beloved Prime Minister, thinking to get from him some ready comment for quotation. With many other suitors and some hangers-on, I waited patiently in the Duchess of Falkender's anteroom, sniffing on a pomegranate so great was the odour of sycophancy that emanated from the inner sanctum.

Suddenly, there hove uncertainly into view none other than the Lord President of the Council, Mr Edward Short. He was notably pleased with a very little accomplishment, namely the enforcement of the Guillotine upon the Finance Bill which even then was wending its laborious way through the Club. Mr Short had come to report to Mr Wilson that the Government's worries were at an end — he had looked in Erskine May and discovered that there was something called a Timetable Motion.

"Dunderhead", screamed an already very emotional Mr Wilson. "That is precisely what the Tories want. They will now be able to stump the hustings telling our faithful Ruffian electorate that we have silenced argument and murdered sleep". (The Prime Minister had just been to see Mr Nicol Williamson play Macbeth — as the Duchess had said that she needed some tips.) "Woe'„ cried Mr Wilson, "is this a dagger I see before me?" In the event it turned out simply to be the Duchess wielding a Number Ten knitting needle. The allegory was lost on Mr Short, who has never seen a Shakespeare play and who believes that the Bard of Avon is a gentleman's eau de toilette sold on a door to door basis.

The hapless Short was sent to find-Mr Tony 'Come down Daniel to the Lion's' Senn. Mr Short told the Club that the Timetable Motion was Mr Benn's idea, and Mr Benn said it was all the fault of something called Norton, Villiers, Triumph. The Chairman of NVT (as it came to be known) suggested that someone was lying — which everyone at the Club knew already. The dreadful scenes that followed in the Chamber of the Club have already been reported. One feat, however, has gone unsung and that is the amazing courage of Mr Norman St John-Stevas, a Courtesan. During the slanging match before, the sitting was deftly suspended by Mr Speaker Selwyn Lloyd (who was fairly deftly suspended himself), Ruby Lips Norman thought he heard a Ruffian say: "She's no lady."

The remark, addressed to Mrs `Harmony Hair Spray' Thatcher, brought out the best in Ruby Lips who, chivalrous as always, rushed at the offending Ruffian and struck him a vicious (glancing) blow with his Order Paper. The unfortunate Ruffian had to be carried to the Rest Room (Though where the Rest went, I cannot vouchsafe).

This incident was noted by the cultured and urbane Deputy Chief Whip, Mr Walter Harrison. In the silk-like tones of Wakefield, this Mr Harrison (grabbing poor Ruby Lips in a half-Nelson — "kiss me Walter," said Norman) declared: "You do that again to one of my blokes, you long haired git, and I'll turn you into Kojak."

None of which, so Sir Simon d'Audley tells me, has been very good for morale at the Club. Ruffian has turned against Ruffian, brother against brother, and Mr Joe 'Room at the Top' Ashton, the MP for Bassetlaw, has turned against the Press. This loud-mouthed Ruffian declares that there are too many Scribes at the Club blocking his way to the various Bars.

Mr Aston should be careful in what he says. Were his way to the Bars not blocked, he might himself have to buy a round and that would be a turn up for the books. Those who have watched his meteroic rise to fame through the Club's Privileges Committee say that he knows how to hang on to his Brass. His brass what, I would like to know.

Tom Puzzle