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From Chatty in France, some advice on l’amour


OUR Man in Westminster, Sir Charles ‘Chatty’ Chatterton MP, is committed to truth, transparency and decency. He is happy for TCW Defending Freedom to publish his correspondence to his constituents. Sir Charles has represented the people of Greater Tittleham since entering Parliament in 1966. Out of a sense of duty to the nation, he remains an Assistant Under Secretary at the Department for Transport.  

My Dear Friends,  

I hesitate to intrude upon your well-earned free time, but my reticence is moderated by the many complimentary and beautifully written replies my office receives from the multitude amongst you who clearly appreciate my regular correspondence.   

I write to you whilst enjoying a brief stay in Biarritz. You will be pleased to learn that I am here with dear Lady Veronica. Sadly she is indisposed, confined to her bed following a nasty bout of gout in both of her big toes.  

Fortunately, my secretary Catherine was able to join us. Her presence allows me to keep in touch with any urgent matters arising regarding pelican crossings, lanes for bicycles and the rollout of electric vehicle charging points in Portishead and elsewhere.  

Catherine has also been helping me as I ruminate about my past.  I believe the time is ripe for me to begin my memoirs. To preserve the dignity and anonymity of the many wonderful ladies I have had the pleasure to meet, I have not kept a diary and sadly much of the past 50-plus years of service on behalf of your good selves has become somewhat hazy.  

However, during my contemplation I have noted down a number of sound pieces of advice that I am sure will enable you to flourish when all around you may flounder in the difficult months and years ahead.  

My first suggestion is for men seeking the company of a good lady. I am supremely fortunate to have my needs met by my two aforementioned companions. I never want for a tasty lemon drizzle cake and my secretarial requirements are always amply catered for. I appreciate that this combination is rare in a woman but I urge you all to persevere in your search for such a beau ideal.  

Ladies should beware of philanderers, scoundrels, cads and bounders. I regret to say that in my place of work I am often surrounded by such men, individuals whom I would hesitate to employ as a kitchen porter or rat catcher.  

I suggest that you search for a decent fellow who enjoys tinkering with mechanical devices and is able to provide you with sturdy children, decent household appliances and a regular, but not excessive, allowance.  

I urge you to all eat healthily. A regular diet of meat and fresh vegetables is essential. I have always instructed my gardeners to pay particular attention to the orangery, the walled garden and the contents thereof. I recommend that you all do the same. Veganism is to be avoided at all costs, as it will cause you to stoop and display a bedraggled and haggard appearance in later life.  

It is important not to become upset by inconsequential events. Perhaps when your hunter becomes lame just as the pack scents wily Reynard, or your agapanthus refuses to flower despite your best efforts, you may become anxious and feel that the fates are being particularly cruel.  

At these times I am reminded of my late papa’s brother, Cedric, who lost his house, his wife and his fortune on the toss of a coin but departed these shores to lead a serene dotage as a beekeeper on the distant island of Saint Helena.  

Do not watch the television. It will not surprise you to learn that Tittleham Hall is bereft of those infernal devices. From what I gather, their output consists of communist propaganda, dreadful singers and inadequate people eating caterpillars. For stimulating entertainment I recommend a weighty Patrick Hamilton novel, or if the mood takes you, something lighter from Hardy, Chesterton or Belloc.  

Finally, always buy a decent vehicle. It may be that you will become impatient whilst lingering on the waiting list for your Bentley Continental GT, and you may be tempted by the siren voices calling you to consider a ridiculous electric vehicle or something of Germanic origin made by Turkish men in Wolfsburg or Munich. Impatience is the thief of reason.   

I fear it is time to curtail my musings. The sun is now setting and is way below the yardarm. A stiff Tanqueray in the Napoleon the Third bar beckons, whilst the thought of a succulent filet mignon bleu teases my palate and will soon lure me towards the La Rotonde Restaurant. 

In closing, I do hope that you find inspiration in this missive and I would be delighted to learn of any of your suggestions to help us cope in the dark and dismal days that lie ahead.  

I remain,  

Your humble servant   

Sir Charles Chatterton MP  

Hôtel du Palais   


The Basque Country  

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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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