Lord Jenkin, a Tory peer, who died just before Christmas aged 90, faithfully served Margaret Thatcher in a variety of Cabinet posts.
His misfortune was to be given a number of tricky and unpopular tasks to carry out, including the abolition of the formidable Ken Livingstone’s Greater London Council.
But he suffered also from the misfortune that his considerable political achievements were overshadowed by his gaffes which, although few in number, were quite spectacular.
The outstanding one was to urge people to clean their teeth in the dark, so as to save energy during Edward Heath’s three-day week period.
That was laughable enough - especially since he himself used an electric toothbrush - but it was made worse for him by a photograph taken of his house at the time, with all lights blazing. He never really got over that.
Once, for some still unknown reason, Lord Jenkin (pictured) asked me if I knew the gestation period of an elephant. Perhaps he was involved in some kind of bet.
I hadn’t a clue what the answer was, but I hazarded a guess of about two years. I wasn’t far out. It’s about 22 months.
But to this day, I haven’t the faintest idea why he wanted this information. Or why he asked me, of all people. I am no David Attenborough.
- It would be a great help all round if the top brass of the RMT, one of the unions deeply involved in the wave of rail strikes, could get their act together.
This is what Sean Hoyle, president of the union said the other day: “Any trade unionist with any sense wants to bring down this bloody working-class-hating Tory Government. That is what we want to do. That is what we are about.”
And this is what Mick Cash, the RMT’s general secretary, said: “This is not part of some conspiracy to bring the Government down.”
So, which one do you believe?
You pays your money...
Meanwhile, it would clear the fog somewhat if in future these two men warbled from the same hymn sheet.