Saturday, 9 February 2013

A Latter Day Lord Chamberlain

Up to the introduction of the Theatres Act 1968, one of the responsibilities of the Lord Chamberlain was to act as Official Censor, with particular regard to plays and theatrical productions. The Joe Orton Diaries are packed with angry exchanges between the playwright and the Office of the Lord Chamberlain. Orton's partner, Kenneth Halliwell, came up with 'Prick Up Your Ears" as a direct challenge to the Lord Chamberlain's objection to an earlier title. Ironically, Prick Up Your Ears was passed by the Lord Chamberlain without comment, his office either not noticing or not understanding the obvious anagram. I have always been fan of the work of Orton, and do not think Halliwell ever received the credit he deserved for nurturing Orton and his influence on his writing. Having said that, if you bludgeon your partner to death then take your own life with an overdose of painkillers, it's not surprising that history doesn't judge you well.

Every year, as we approach May, I think of myself as a latter day Lord Chamberlain, as I wade through page upon page of candidates' election addresses, striking out the mad, bad and dangerous prose before it reaches the printer. I am blogging about this as on Monday I will be speaking at a training event for voluntary election agents at CCHQ, and part of my presentation will be on ensuring candidates present themselves in the best light.

For your amusement, here are some of the howlers which failed to survive my 'blue pencil' over the years.

"I have proudly represented your interests on the Upper Medway Sewage Board, and prior to that the Medway Drainage and Sewage Commission, for 26 consecutive years."

"Having lost my mother, father and sister in somewhat tragic circumstances,
I thought I would turn my hand to local government."

"Despite having lived in the village for 22 years, very few people will know who I am. This is because I like to keep myself to myself. Most of you, however, will know my wife Joy, as she is far more active locally and plays a busy role in village life. In fact, many will wonder why she isn't standing for election instead of me."

"I was first elected to the Council when Winston Churchill was a Member of Parliament. In that time I have been Mayor of (insert council) twice, Mayor of (insert another council) twice. But I have only been Mayor of (insert council) once.  I very much hope you will re-elect me as I would very much like the honour of being Mayor a second time before I retire."

"Many of you will know that since retiring as a hairdresser, I have set-up a small hypnotherapy business, offering help and support to those suffering from anxiety, tobacco and drug addiction and obesity. If any of the above applies to you, please contact me for help. I offer a 10% discount to any local resident who produces this leaflet at the time of payment."

"I am grateful to residents of Hilbert Road for returning my recent questionnaire. I will contact Highway's regarding the illegal parking. I will also speak to the lady at No (x) who apparently never trims her bush thus causing nuisance to others."

"I am concerned about increasing amounts of excrement on Camden Road.
Personally, I don't know if we should blame the dogs or their owners."

"We are fortunate to live in one the nicest areas of (town), and for the last twelve years I have followed a policy of leaving you alone. Unlike some of my colleagues I don't knock on your door to ask if I can help you. I don't push newsletters through your letterbox, blowing my own trumpet. I don't hold surgeries or "advice centres" as I don't wish to spend every 2nd Saturday sitting alone in a cold church hall waiting for someone wearing a tin foil hat to turn up and harangue me. I ask for your support again on Thursday 3 May on the promise that if re-elected, I shall continue to fight against excessive Council waste and spending whilst leaving you in peace until the next election."

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