Wednesday 27 February 2013

Lord Bonkers: Watching the self-appointed detectives

I can’t help noticing that Clegg has been rather down in the mouth of late. In my experience, the best cure when the cares of office are getting on top of you is to curl up with a good whodunit. So this morning I breeze into his office with a selection of the things.

“This,” I tell him, “is one of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marples. The old girl’s theory is that you can find every variety of human wickedness represented in the most tranquil English village. Always makes me think of Rutland.”

“And this is a Father Brown. He bats for David Alton’s side, you know, but he’s a wise old bird. Did I ever tell you I knew G.K. Chesterton? I always found him Very Good Value.”

“Now this is rather stronger meat: one of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlow books. ‘Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean,’ and all that. Have you ever been out in Oakham on a Saturday night?”

“One thing I must emphasise,” I conclude, “is that none of the heroes and heroines is a police officer. They are private citizens who take an interest in solving crime.”

Clegg fixes me with what I think is known as a baleful eye and says a little gracelessly: “I don’t approve of self-appointed detectives.”

Lord Bonkers, who was Liberal MP for Rutland South-West 1906-10, was speaking to Jonathan Calder.

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