Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Meet the Candidate-A Complete Fruitcake

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Meet the Candidate-A Complete Fruitcake

Article excerpt

The dog days of August are over, yet so bleak has been September that already I long for them. Things started swimmingly as Letwin and I hunkered down to finesse The Party's strategy on the BBC. This requires some subtlety. Savage the corporation and all the newspapers will be cheerleaders. Put the boot in too often, however, and the public will leap to the defence of dear old Auntie.


Anyway, Ollie and I were merrily piecing together the jigsaw when the phone rang. "Hello, Gidders darling," said Venetia from Natural Selection, using an endearment which always prefaces very bad news. "We need you to check out a prospective candidate. Pronto."

"Who?" "Jones." "Absolute non-starter. I'll resign rather than play any part in that counter-jumper Dylan Jones furthering his ...""It's not Dylan, it's worse ..." As if.

It was refreshing to discover that Dulverton had not changed a jot since my childhood. To go to the edge of Exmoor is to return to the 1950s. It is bucolic and it is bracing. Despite this, the maid who answered the door was in a terrible condition. Either she was hydrocephalic or she hadn't eaten for decades. Either way, she wasn't much of an advertisement for her house's cuisine.

Before I could enter, she hurried me off to look at the postbox which had apparently come under gun attack. She was most upset but, let's be honest, we were hardly talking Dublin 1916. Eventually, I was allowed into the house.

"Would you like some Illy?" she asked.

"Sorry? …

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