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Bunty, Biggles and Maggie: The making of our Chatty


A compilation of Sir Charles ‘Chatty’ Chatterton’s contributions to TCW Defending Freedom, entitled ‘My Dear Friends’, has recently been published. The book includes submissions from Erasmus Demosthenes Hepplewhite and Ivan Dennison (Covid Marshal Grade 2). To mark the occasion the Tittleham Tribune has graciously granted an interview to TCW.

TCW: Sir Charles, what prompted you to pursue a career in politics?

Chatty: First of all, may I say what a pleasure it is to finally meet such a charming and intelligent young lady, someone who has done so much to fly the tattered flag of freedom during these trying and turbulent times.

As to your question, the truth is that like most people I despise politicians, but fate decreed that for the sake of the good people of Tittleham, and for the benefit of the nation, it was my duty to consort with the rogues who infest the Palace of Westminster. 

As a young man it was my ambition to serve my Sovereign as an admiral in her Royal Navy. However, on the death of grandfather Henry in 1966, my father Horacio, the sitting Member of Parliament for Greater Tittleham, moved to the Upper Chamber. As the Navy was shrinking and the horrors of socialism loomed, I felt I had no choice but to step into his shoes in the Commons.

TCW: Who have been the greatest influences on your life?

Chatty: I have always had enormous respect for strong women.

My mother Persephone, the fourth daughter of the Earl of Argelton, known to all as Bunty, was a noted travel writer. As such she was unable to spend a great deal of time at Tittleham Hall. In fact, when she was carrying me she became the first person to conquer the forbidding TaklamakanDesert alone. She did so riding a Bactrian camel which she called ‘Lamy’, which is a rough translation of the Punjabi word for lumpy. 

I remember Mater telling me that she formed a strong bond with the animal. Unfortunately, shortly before reaching the Indian border post her rations became so depleted that she had to eat parts of ‘Lamy’ to survive. A detachment of sepoys ventured into the wilderness to recover Lamy’s remains and his bust is to be found in the Great Hall at Tittleham; ugly creatures, camels, don’t you think? 

Bunty Chatterton’s best selling book, Travels with Lamy: My intrepid journey across the Desert of Death, brought joy to millions as Britain emerged from the Second World War. It was a sequel to her Amazonian blockbuster, Travels with my Llama: My intrepid journey through the Forest of Death, which followed her first travelogue Traversing the Limpopo: My intrepid swim down the River of Death. Mama had a way with words.

Because of their respective careers I rarely saw my parents, but I had a pleasant childhood and spent many happy hours in the company of Egelfride, my Swedish nanny.

In adulthood I have been fortunate to encounter many charming and formidable women, and now I am blessed to have the support of my redoubtable wife, Lady Veronica, and my devoted secretary, Catherine.

TCW: What influenced your political philosophy?

Chatty: I can’t say I’ve thought too much about philosophy. I read about those clever bearded Greek fellows at Magdalen, but found it all a bit convoluted, with their Stoicism, Epicureanism and whatnot.

I think the literature that influenced me the most was R S Surtees’s Mister Sponge’s Sporting Tour, W E Johns’s Biggles Goes to War, and Cobbett’s Rural Rides. They should be required reading for all children. I must say, dear lady, that the philosophers who talk the most sense are to found in the Drunken Ferret, especially around ten in the evening!

TCW: Which politicians have you most admired?

Chatty: Admirable politicians are as scarce as hen’s teeth. Of course we were fortunate to have dear Margaret in charge for so long. I must admit that I was wary of her to begin with, what with her coming from ‘trade’. However, I am pleased to say we became great friends, and she and Denis often stayed at the Hall. My gardener still finds Denis’s golf balls in the shrubbery. The only other good eggs I can think of were Tebbit and good old Willie [Whitelaw]. With the odd exception, the current crop are a complete shower.

TCW: Does religion play a big part in your life?

Chatty: I can’t say I’m a big God-botherer, but I do enjoy the display of candles and the aroma of incense provided by the Reverend Slope when I attend his High Anglican mass at Saint Ethelwald’s. I have no time for the happy-clappy nonsense I believe occurs elsewhere.

TCW: Have you thought about retiring as the Member for Tittleham?

Chatty: I am aware that there will come a time when I will have to pass the baton to the younger element. I had hoped that my eldest son Cedric would take my place in Parliament, but he has no interest in politics and now lives a bohemian life in the Czech Republic. However, I believe my grandson Ivanhoe has the right attributes to take over. He is a good swordsman, an excellent shot, and has a healthy contempt for the varlets he will encounter in the Chamber. 

TCW: Thank you very much for your offer to donate half of any profits from My Dear Friends to TCW Defending Freedom.

Chatty: I am only too pleased to do whatever I can to help you, my dear. Thanks in no small part to the astute oversight of my dear wife, Tittleham Estates is very profitable. Lady Veronica’s Prized Hereford Rump is highly sought after by the best restaurateurs, and the brewery’s Stoat’s Snout Stout, Poacher’s Plunder and Ploughman’s Crutch IPA have won many prizes.

TCW: Thank you, Sir Charles, for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us.

Chatty: It has been an absolute pleasure, Kathy, my dear. Do you fancy joining me for a celebratory drink at my club?

The book can be purchased directly from here £10.99 (UK post free). It can also be ordered from booksellers (ISBN 978-1-83952-580-3) or purchased as a Kindle edition.

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John Ellwood
John Ellwood
John is the father of four beautiful girls. He is, thankfully, not knowingly related to Tobias Ellwood. ‘My Dear Friends . . . ’ a compilation of many of John’s contributions to TCW Defending Freedom is available in paperback and on Kindle.

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