Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Tales from Lord Trimble

Those attending last week's "Audience with Lord Trimble" were entertained by his open, amusing and light-hearted recollections of events during one of the darkest and most difficult periods of recent British history.  Here are three stories which deserve a wider audience.  

In the height of "The Troubles" he was about to leave his regular advice surgery when the local Chief Superintendent contacted him to say, we’ve just discovered an IRA plot to assassinate you…”  It transpired the murder attempt was due to happen 30 minutes later. 
“When you stop at the traffic lights at the crossroads, a motorbike will pull-up alongside your car, the man riding pillion will lean over and place a bomb on your sunroof. When the lights change, the motorcycle will speed off and the bomb will explode.”  The Chief Superintendent continued, “try not to worry about it and act as normal. All being well we will intervene and stop it bike before it reaches you.”

The second story was in reply to a question from someone in the audience regarding which Secretary of State was most effective.  Much to everyone's surprise, the answer was Peter Mandleson. The reason had nothing to do with Mandelson's political position or the Unionist's view of New Labour's policies, but because Mandelson was uniquely close to the Prime Minister and was "able to tell him what to do and we could all be sure it would be done."  

Finally, an indiscreet tale about an unnamed Minister of State who was a regular visitor to the Province, and who would stay at Stormont Castle during his overnight visits. Each evening after the Minister had retired there would be prolonged banging and scraping noise accompanied by heavy breathing coming from inside the Minister;s bedroom. This both intrigued and amused the security detail, who (apart from checking he was OK) never liked to intrude or enquire what was going on. One night, however, the ringing fire alarm necessitated the evacuation of the wing of bedrooms where the Minister was sleeping, and the source of the noise was revealed. The Minister had barricaded his door by piling all the bedroom furniture in front of it. This led to the Head of Security announce, "Minister, if the combined strength of armed units from the RUC, the British Army and Special Branch can't save you I really don't think a Rococo Dressing Table will be much use." 

In his vote of thanks, West Kent Chairman William Rutherford said, 
“It is a great honour to welcome such an internationally renowned speaker; Winston Churchill once said, 'Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen'.  David Trimble showed remarkable courage in being the first Unionist leader to sit down at talks with the Republican leadership, the first to meet with the Irish Prime Minister and the first to lead his community into a peaceful settlement.  I am delighted that we were able to organise this event, and to welcome so many local residents."

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