Last evening the Tunbridge Wells Conservative Association held its Annual Dinner, where our guest of honour was Stanley Johnson. I had previously enjoyed Stanley's company at the Tonbridge & Malling Annual Dinner in 2011, so I knew what to expect !
|The jacket of Stanley Johnson's latest book|
WHERE THE WILD THINGS WERE
Travels of a Conservationist
Stanley is great value, and as soon as you meet him you have no doubt that all the acorns fell close to the tree. However, please don't refer to him as 'father of Boris' for his is also father of Rachel (journalist), Jo (Member of Parliament for Orpington) and Leo (an entrepreneur). There are two further children from his second marriage, and he is equally proud of them all.
As I introduced him to the guests he was charm itself. But the Johnson twinkle and eye for mischief was never far away. We finally reached the table where one of our most formidable ladies was drinking gin with a friend. "I've only come because you like animals and I am a great supporter of the RSCPA", she said. "Yes", replied Stanley, "the RSPCA gave me an award for the work I have done for animal welfare....
"...the founder of the RSPCA was called Richard Martin and the award is named the "Dick Award" in his honour. I'm not sure why they called it that...
....perhaps he had a large penis."
....perhaps he had a large penis."
As he wheeled off to the next table I chanced a glance over my shoulder. One of the ladies, who is so formal and correct that she writes a stiff letter should I circulate a leaflet with a misplaced apostrophe, was all a fluster and fanning herself with her napkin. Had anyone else said 'large penis' in her presence I suspect she would have chopped it off.
The great joy of Stanley is the breadth and depth of his life. Politics has played its part, but it isn't what defines him. He is therefore able to speak about politics as in inside observer rather than a fully paid-up member of the Westminster Village.
He spoke of his selection and subsequent election as Member of the European Parliament for Hampshire East and the Isle of Wight iun 1979. The final selection meeting came after his divorce from the first Mrs Johnson. When the Chairman asked if, should he should be elected, Mrs Johnson would join him living in Hampshire, he replied...
"Mrs Johnson may well come and live in Hampshire, but I can assure you it won't be in the same house as me."
And upon his subsequent election...
"I arrived at the count at Portsmouth Guildhall very late and smelling of smoke, as my car had burst into flames on the M27. As I walked in my Agent came toward me, beaming. "I am pleased to inform you Stanley that your piles are much larger than Nancy Sears' piles, and they are growing larger by the hour."
We then had a brief resume of this attempted Parliamentary comeback as MP for Teignbridge at the 2005 General Election, which he subsequently failed to gain from the Liberal Democrats. He was having lunch in a local pub with David Cameron (see below) when a Guardian journalist phoned to inform him that the constituency name was spelt incorrectly in his election address!
"Well, it serves me right, a candidate should always proof read his election leaflets rather than leaving it to others. I left my proof reading to my agent, which was a bit silly, considering she was 80 years old and blind in both eyes."
|With David Cameron in Teignbridge during the 2005 General Election|