Sunday, 5 August 2007

The old bruiser

I should like to think, though it is an impossible dream, that I shall end up rather like Denis Healey, “the best prime minister we never had”, though I’m not sure that at his age I would be keen to make twenty trips a year to my seat in the House of Lords as he does.

He was interviewed this week by the Guardian, holding a glass of whisky and looking out at the swimming pool of his East Sussex farmhouse where he takes a daily dip.

Over the years many quips about him and by him have provided harmless fun: his deputy at the Treasury, in response to a remark by a third party that "Denis Healey would sell his own grandmother", commented, "No, he would get me to do it for him". In 1978, he likened being attacked by the mild-mannered Sir Geoffrey Howe in the House of Commons to being 'savaged by a dead sheep', and as Foreign Secretary he replied admirably to the accusation of being a name-dropper.

All that was a very long time ago, and it is pleasant to read that his 90-year-old tongue has lost none of its waspishness. The other day his reply to a mention of his past adversaries was “Sod ‘em—or, if you prefer, Gomorrah”, and his comment on the once popular David Owen was: "When he was born, all the good fairies gave him every virtue: ‘You’ll be beautiful, you’ll be intelligent, you’ll have charm and charisma.’ And the bad fairy came along and tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘But you’ll be a shit.’ That was his trouble.”

1 comment:


A great vignette. British wit is eternal.