19 JUNE 1953, Page 7


N Friday night, not for the first time, I watched, against a background of lustre and distinction, Mr.

Aneurin Bevan enter the Throne-room in Buckingham Palace wearing a lounge suit. He looked plump, rosy, intrusive and slightly parasitic, like a robin on the dining-room window- sill; but he managed with, I thought, great credit the delicate business of looking about him without actually catching anyone's eye. He can now claim to have spanned two reigns with his disarming but not, perhaps, very becoming idiosyncrasy, the essence of which is to accept hospitality from his Sovereign while refusing to comply with one of the two conditions on which it is offered. These conditions are (a) that you should turn up at the time, and on the date, for which you have been invited and (b) that you should wear the clothes which your hostess considers suitable for the occasion. Mr. Bevan (who , when a Minister of the .Crown had, I think, some misplaced hopes of being denied admittance to Buckingham Palace if he presented himself improperly dressed) now finds himself committed indefinitely to a gesture of rather gamin eccentricity. The British have a great respect and affection for eccentricity, even when it involves a show of bad manners; but they prefer it to be. unplanned and unselfconscious.