Greg Lance – Watkins
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it must be 20 years now, maybe more since the first time Christopher Booker first quoted/wrote about me in his column in The Sunday Telegraph. Minded that Christopher has long been a friend I remember him back in the days when he was a script writer for the iconic TW3 which younger readers may well remember as the realistic start of popular political satire with interviews such as David Frost, Bernard Levine, with Kenneth Cope, Roy Kinnear, Willie Rushton, Al Mancini, Robert Lang, David Kernan supported by Lance Percival’s weekly topical calyso & Millicent Martin.
The luminaries on the script writing team were many including Peter Cook, John Cleese, John Betjeman, John Bird, Graham Chapman, Roald Dahl, Richard Ingrams, Lyndon Irving, Gerald Kaufman, Frank Muir, David Nobbs, Denis Norden, Bill Oddie, Dennis Potter, Eric Sykes, Kenneth Tynan, and Keith Waterhouse.
That Christopher Booker, Richard Ingram, Willie Rushton were founders of Private Eye will come as no surprise but what may surprise some is that Christopher still writes in every issue – more surprising is that I believe that Christopher is I understand The Sunday Telegraph’s even perhaps The Telegraph’s longest serving regular columnist!
To have spanned 20+ years of his column I consider something of an honour, particularly at this time in his career, as we move to achieving BreXit for which we have both actively campaigned for for many decades!
May I take this opportunity to congratulate Christopher on a hugely valuable & productive life and I am looking forward to reading his full biography, which he is hoping will be published later this year – in the meantime I can think of none of his books which I would not recommend to you having read almost all of them!
Here is the original draft article Christopher kindly eMailed me:
EMBARGOED till Sunday
Booker Last Word 4 Jan 2019
One political story I was told over the festive season was so startling that I cannot resist passing it on, even though it dates back to 80 years ago. Few moments in our history have been looked back on as more humiliating than that when in 1938 Neville Chamberlain flew back from Munich, having supposedly been duped by Hitler into thinking that he had secured “peace in our time”.
As we know, a year later came war. Chamberlain was castigated for having been a craven appeaser and, after eight more unhappy months, was forced ignominiously to resign, to be succeeded by Winston Churchill.
My friend Greg Lance-Watkins recalled how in 1967, as a young officer cadet at Sandhurst, he boarded a packed train from London to Inverness, on which the only unoccupied seat was in the dining car. Seeing his uniform, the chap in the seat opposite invited him to sit down, and Greg recognised him as the former prime minister Alec Douglas-Home.
In their three hours of enjoyable conversation, and remembering that Home had been with Chamberlain at Munich as his parliamentary private secretary, Greg quizzed him about the moment when Chamberlain came down those aircraft steps, waving a piece of paper (which no one was allowed to see) and was greeted with cheers from the waiting crowd.
After hours without food in the unheated aircraft, the party then rushed back to Downing Street where, according to Home’s account, as Chamberlain was still taking off his coat, he said to senior colleagues who had gathered tp greet him. “Gentlemen, prepare for war”.
Far from being fooled by Hitler, Chamberlain had become just as aware of his true intentions as Churchill. At least by pretending otherwise, he bought another year for Britain to step up preparations for a war he now realised was inevitable.
Might it have occurred to people that Theresa May might well be acting in a familiar manner at the moment!
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