Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles FIDUCIARY SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Journal OF Lynton Charles FIDUCIARY SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY

Article excerpt

Tuesday Fort Knox early, and Bill Bush at No 10 has sent me five clear pages of briefing, headed: "Achievements of the First 1,000 Days". I sit and digest it, as I digest a yoghurty/muesli thing which replaces my pre-Christmas bacon-and-egg bagel. At Sir John Birt's party on Sunday, Nigella Lawson and Polly Toynbee both told me I'd put on weight, and it would be foolish to ignore their warnings. (To my chagrin, Cheryl agreed with them, saying that my stomach made me look like the neck of an ostrich that had swallowed a cushion.)

I am impressed with us. No, really. Stick it all down in one place and it ain't so bad. It may not be the Red Revolution, but I can go on the doorsteps of the Barratt's estates with this lot, and no worries.

At 9am the car arrives to take me to West London and my destination, the studios of The Nicky Campbell Show. Idly I wonder whether Nicky and Alastair are related. And what about Tony and Lionel Blair?

As usual, the ten-year-old researcher woman in flared trousers and fluffy shirt doesn't recognise me, and stares right through my diminishing paunch as I approach. It's just as well that awaiting researcher for a BBC phone-in is always so unmistakable. It's that unique facial expression combining eagerness and ignorance that does it.

I'm on with an anonymous Lib Dem spokesman called Jake Tibble, who sits for a constituency so far to the west that it's 90 per cent rocks and 10 per cent clotted cream. The Tory is that mad right-wing TA captain, Julian Swyne, now (Jesus wept!) shadow higher education minister. Swyne's prematurely grey hair is parted in the centre and swept back like Billy Bunter's and, as ever, he wears a tweed jacket with leather patches, and a cravat.

We do our party pieces, probed on the way by Campbell. It's the usual stuff. Swyne has got his crib-sheet too, intoning something about "Labour's lies" every five seconds, his eyes shooting all over the studio as he speaks. …

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