Sunday, 1 March 2015
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
Sunday, 21 December 2014
A headline from a 1922 edition of the New York Times returned to prominence:
Three Englishmen Saved from Boiling Pot By Cannibal Chief, Who Was Friend at Oxford
At dinner one evening Lord Bonkers commented to me:
That is the great thing about public school and varsity: your friends will help you out in later life if you find yourself in hot water.
Incidentally, too much is made of cannibalism in the South Pacific. In my experience of those lovely islands, it was rare.
The same, unfortunately, cannot be said of the Upper Welland Valley.That same month, Lord Bonkers took up his new role as the Liberal Democrats' new pastoral care officer. He wrote:
Reading from my early volume Frank Chats for Young Canvassers, I say: “Now that you are growing up, I expect you find yourselves doing things like cutting out photographs of Megan Lloyd George from the News Chronicle.
Let me reassure you: there is nothing wrong with such feelings. However, it is important that we do not allow them to get in the way of our Liberal activism. So rise early, take a cold tub, exercise with Indian clubs and then, if you still find yourself troubled by impure thoughts, ask your branch secretary for an extra Focus round to deliver. I assure you that, after that, you will have no energy left for beastliness of any sort.”March
His lordship acquired a new heroine:
At a reception this evening I find myself talking to a charming lady by the name of Miriam-Gonzalez-Durantez. She turns out to have trenchant views on the public schools. “Some people from some of these top schools are fantastic but there are lots of people from these top schools who are unimpressive,” she tells me. “Quite right, my dear,” I reply. She goes on: "I know far too many that come out of there without speaking a single foreign language."
As I am observing that speaking a lot of languages isn’t everything and pointing to that fellow Clegg as a case in point, she suddenly recognises an old friend on the other side of the room and disappears from view. Nevertheless, I am convinced she is Sound. Why does one never hear her spoken of as a future leader of the Liberal Democrats?April
The mysterious disappearance of a Malaysian jet put Lord Bonkers in mind of an incident from the 1920s:
One bright April morning the 11:15 for Northampton Castle left Nottingham London Road Lower Level as usual, but it never reached its destination. It was seen to call at Melton Mowbray North, and there were unconfirmed reports of it reaching Clipston and Oxendon, but one thing is sure: it never arrived in Northampton.May
Despite Lord Bonkers' best efforts, the Liberal Democrats fared badly in the month's European elections. He is pictured here, during the campaign, with our East Midlands candidates Phil Knowles and George Smid:
Later that month Lord Bonkers gave his recollection of the death of T.E. Lawrence:
It later transpired that he died in a motorcycle accident after, uncharacteristically, swerving to avoid two schoolboys.June
This months Lord Bonkers met Freddie and Fiona from Nick Clegg's office:
“We’ve been told to organise a press event in a pub this morning so that Mr Clegg and Vince Cable can have a drink together and show they are really best friends despite what everyone says,” they explain. “But the trouble is, we don’t know how to do it.” “Why ever not?” I ask. “Because we are too young to go into pubs.”August
And he met them again a couple of month later:
They are taking turns with a bicycle pump, attempting to get some air into a large balloon that has had a collection of bristles stuck on it. “Whatever is that, you two?” I ask. “It’s an inflatable Julian Huppert,” they explain.September
Events in Cardiff attracted the old brute's attention this month:
I am delighted to read that the Welsh Liberal Democrats are proposing to abolish the trolls on the Severn Bridge. For many years I have been urging just this move upon them, but without any joy. “The time is not right,” said Mike German. “There are other priorities,” said Kirsty Williams. “Wibble, wibble: are both those feet mine?” said Lembit Opik.December
We were treated to some memories of the glory days of Oakham Studios:
I helped win a contract from the Association of Liberal Councillors to make a number of training films. More than one prominent member of our party learnt electioneering from watching ‘Confessions from a Committee Room.’ ‘Confessions of a Canvasser’ and ‘Confessions of a Knocker Up’.And Lord Bonkers also offered some thoughts on (I think) the fall of Alastair Cook:
One has to be prepared to act decisively. For a leader who impressed people only a few years ago may no longer cut the mustard today.Finally, he has asked me to assure you that there is no truth to the absurd rumours currently circulating about the financial position of the Bonkers Hall Estate.
Lord Bonkers' literary secretary blogs at Liberal England.
Monday, 8 December 2014
Thursday, 9 October 2014
Thursday, 2 October 2014
Thursday, 4 September 2014
Simon Titley passed away this weekend, following the news in June that he had been taken ill. He will be missed terribly by the Liberator Collective, those who enjoyed the Liberal Revue, and many people beyond whose lives he touched by his wit, incisive writing and instinctive, passionate Liberalism.
Originally from Lincolnshire – a heritage of which he was always proud – he went to Keele University, becoming a ‘highly political’ sabbatical officer. For a long time he worked for the Liberal Party’s central organisation, moving to work for the GLC's successor organisations and finally organising Paddy Ashdown's tour for the 1992 General Election before eventually being coaxed away by the lure of PR. He preferred the world of the political backroom, but did stand for Parliament once, in Grantham in 1983; as a local eccentric still shot silent newsreels for the town's cinema and filmed one of Simon's campaign meetings he thought he was probably the last UK general election candidate ever to appear in a silent film. Preferring policymaking (serving on the Europe policy working group until last year) and commentary, his unwavering commitment to numerous personal political causes [Europe and Palestine two constants] always came first, sometimes to the detriment of his career.
Although Simon started to contribute to Liberator in the late 1970s, he was only persuaded to join the Collective in 1985. His close friend and Liberator Collective colleague Mark Smulian describes Simon’s relationship with him and the magazine:
Alarming as this was to such a noted gourmet, it was start of a long friendship. Simon had contributed to Liberator from the late 1970s but became fully involved around 1985 when he found a book review he’d written had been insensitively edited. On being told this was to make room for a picture of a cat, Simon – fond as he was of cats – decided the only way to prevent such future vandalism was to join the collective.
From then on he, without imposing himself, provided much of Liberator’s political direction and its most telling analysis of events…. he despaired of the Liberal Democrats failure to build a core vote and to instead chase transitory grievances and split the difference in the ‘centre’.
Simon was noted for his love of fine food, wine and beer. He was deeply serious about politics, yet a satirist of great ability and the driving force behind establishing the Liberal Revue, which entertained conference goers on and off for 24 years.
He had a vast collection of erudite books on politics and economics, yet his favourite entertainment was the innuendo-strewn 1960s comedy show Round the Horne.
Simon leaves a huge gap not only in his family and friends’ lives but in the party’s resources for thinking about its future.
While the volume and quality of Liberal publications has declined considerably, even more so since Conrad Russell’s departure a decade ago, Simon fought what was almost a one-person campaign to keep the processes of Liberal thought going. His publications included Really Facing The Future [with David Boyle, 2011], a direct challenge to the party’s attempt to set out a policy programme in ‘sterile and detached language’. He contributed to Reinventing the State, the 2007 social liberal response to the Orange Book. His regular contributions to Liberator were supplemented by two periods of prolific blogging on all manner of topics. His 2004-5 foray as the Liberal Dissenter was supplemented by more recent work on this blog.
As Mark says, the culture brought to the Liberator and Liberal Revue teams by Simon was distinctive too. Days out or even occasional weekends away were characterised by his love of the finest food and where possible a visit to the nearest record shop (politics is not the only interest we shared). Simon was unafraid to stand up against tired received wisdom and lazy thinking – or confront those guilty of either. The irony of some of those who whined about his blunt observations joining those mourning is not lost on some of us. However, they are in exalted company. Vince Cable has written this tribute:
He was in Liberator especially a tough irreverent critic of the party establishment and of conventional thinking.
I want to record my appreciations of his insights, originality and sharp wit. I benefitted personally from his advice and what he had to say was always thoughtful, considered and helpful. He will be greatly missed.
As Mark and Simon say, Liberalism and Liberal thought in particular are weaker today.
Monday, 21 July 2014
part due to a substantial amount of work carried out by our in-house designer, which has culminated in the attached branding guide. [Sadly this document has not yet reached us]
Autumn Conference represents an excellent opportunity for us to get our
branding and corporate identity right. I?d ask that you all review your logos and branding, and where practicable, update them so that they are coherent with our new branding. For some of you, such as ALDC this isn't appropriate, given that you have your own branding, but for others, it represents a great opportunity to refresh the look and feel of your logos.
Much as I would like to, I can?t at this stage promise that Steven will be
able to devote any time to refreshing your logo himself. If you have a specific request of him, please let me know, and I?ll pitch it to his line manager (who is off this week). Unfortunately, I don?t have access to the correct fonts to carry out the task myself, but I can send over logos and other materials if that would help. If you have any further questions,
please either get in touch with me, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know that the conference team are keen to make sure that our directory and conference exhibition are as on brand as possible. Thanks in advancefor your assistance."
"Go back to your constituencies, and prepare for a change of font!"