Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Dear Antonella

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Dear Antonella

Article excerpt


Peter Temple-Morris has been a family friend for many years, but as a new Conservative MP with aspirations under William, I'm in agony about how to react to him next time we meet in the tea-room. Help!

Geoffrey Port-Stanley, Westminster

Get a grip Geoffrey! Drop Peter from the family get-togethers immediately. On no account see him over Christmas or send a card. It's OK to be polite to him in the tea-room, as long as you make your true feelings of revulsion known as soon as his back is turned. Ditto, Michael Heseltine.


I understand the Millbank computer has files on troublesome Labour backbenchers, classing some as "clinically insane", others merely as friends of Dennis Skinner. A Millbank chum has offered to "fix" my file. What description would do me most good?

Tim Potts, Rutland West

Politically, Tim, you should be a totally blank canvas. Non-politically - choose your hobbies carefully. Groovy PM-to-be Michael Portillo recently said the Tory cabinet was split between opera lovers and birdwatchers. New Labour equivalents are rock buffs (preferably guitar-playing) and football fans. "Owns a Fender 'Strat'" should secure you a junior ministerial post next year. Incidentally, it will help to say you're gay.


I am working on the Queen's Christmas message. Having read your column and marvelled at its insights, I wonder what note you would advise Her Majesty to strike? And what should she wear?

Robin Fortescue-Grimes, London SW1

I can see you're tempted to put her in a tasteful trouser-suit, Robin - but I'm afraid that even "new Britain" isn't ready for that. I would go for "compassion", perhaps by wearing a soft fuchsia cardigan, and mentioning Diana's name - just the once, of course. "Modernity" could also feature, by doing the broadcast from Canary Wharf instead of Balmoral, and dumping all shots of Charles in a kilt. …

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