OUR Man in Westminster, Sir Charles ‘Chatty’ Chatterton MP, has once again felt compelled to write to his constituents about contemporary affairs. In recognition of its commitment to truth, transparency and decency, he is happy for TCW Defending Freedom to publish his correspondence. Sir Charles has represented the people of Greater Tittleham since entering Parliament in 1966. He is an Assistant Under Secretary at the Department for Transport.
My Dear Friends
You may recall my mentioning in a previous missive that I was a member of a Parliamentary fact-finding trip to Madeira to investigate the suitability of establishing banana plantations in the Scilly Islands. I was asked to stand in at the last moment when my colleague withdrew from the trip following unsubstantiated allegations about an inappropriate relationship with a young man.
As has been the case on innumerable previous occasions, when the Nation calls, Chatty answers.
In view of the fact that these visits are rarely reported upon and are paid for courtesy of the ever-diminishing public purse, I believe it is right and proper to let you know what transpired on the island.
I must say I have always had an affinity with Madeira. It was visited many times by our two greatest Prime Ministers, Churchill and dear Margaret. Furthermore, my great grandfather’s youngest son, Jeremy, settled there. He had fled England on a whaler after he discovered his family had designs for him to become the parson of a small parish in Wiltshire. He was seemingly very active after his arrival and there are two pages of Chattertons in the island’s phone book.
The visit didn’t begin well. The queues at the airport were monstrous. My secretary, Catherine, and I barely had time to board the aircraft and find our business-class seats. Had I not been well acquainted with Dorothy Blenkinsop, the airport manager, our valuable excursion would have been placed in jeopardy.
In steerage I could make out the already intoxicated face of the SNP member Hamish McTavish and a young female Labour member named Tara something or other, who appeared to be reading an old Bunty Annual. The Plaid Cymru member missed the flight as she became confused by the language on road signs on her way to the airport. As for our DEFRA Civil Service companion, he decided at the last minute to work from home.
On arrival in Funchal I took my usual rooms at Reid’s Palace whilst the two remaining members of the delegation found accommodation on the outskirts of town.
The following day we were taken to a banana plantation to meet the Minister for Bananas, a Senhor Humberto. As this gentleman was describing the life cycle of the fruit, Hamish, who had clearly had a liquid breakfast, fell backwards into a levada. Being of hefty girth (or a land whale as Catherine cruelly observed) he became wedged in the channel and spent the next half hour, before being rescued, singing Flower of Scotland and uttering curses upon the Duke of Cumberland. My fellow delegate Tara seemed to spend most of this time studying a wordsearch in a puzzle book and it was left to Catherine to take notes.
I gather that the upshot of the Minister’s contribution was that in the absence of the long-promised global warming, any bananas which survived on the Scillies would be small, bitter and tasteless. (Not unlike the leader of the SNP.)
The following day, after dictating my report, I had the chance to reacquaint myself with the beautiful island. From what I understand Hamish spent the day in hospital whilst Tara used the hotel paddling pool and drank martinis.
At the conclusion of the visit, I met up again with my colleagues at the airport and we were surprised to find that the linguistically and geographically challenged Plaid member had just arrived, having inadvertently flown to Madagascar.
As the plane ascended over the azure sea it was with not a little regret that I was leaving the carpets of strelitzia, protea and agapanthus and had in prospect the fetid swamp that the Palace of Westminster has become.
It was, however, a pleasure to return to Tittleham. I was pleased to learn that Lady Veronica, brick that she is, had responded to the cost-of-living crisis by offering half-price afternoon teas to local residents and Ukrainian refugees between the hours of two and three. She tells me that the teas do include slices of her famous lemon drizzle cake. Not to be missed!
Sir Charles Chatterton MP