Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Matthew Parris: Everything He Wants

Reading biography, one is normally an outsider looking in on another’s life. But for the first time last week, and much to my surprise, a biography solved a little mystery in my own life. Working my way through the second volume of Charles Moore’s enormous biography of Margaret Thatcher (I was reviewing Everything She Wants for The Times) I stumbled upon his account of my last cup of tea with the then prime minister.

I was taking my leave of the Commons in 1986 to try my hand as a TV presenter. Over tea she fussed and talked incessantly, but right at the end I managed to get in what I had meant to say: that I was gay, many Conservative voters were too, and so were a fair few of my parliamentary colleagues. I suggested that our party needed to change its attitude towards homosexuality. Without comment she put her hand gently on my wrist and said “There, dear, that must have been very hard to say.”

As I left, the third person in the room, her parliamentary private secretary, the late Michael Alison, followed me out. He asked for a list of the MPs I had alluded to. “We might be able to help them,” said the wan and churchy MP, rather spookily. I did not oblige, but wrote about the encounter in my autobiography, Chance Witness. Mr Moore must have seen it there, and later interviewed Mr Alison’s secretary at the time.

Moore adds: “Parris naturally assumed that Alison wanted the information to use against the men later. In fact, Alison told his secretary at the time, he had asked for the names so that he could pray for them.”

The Times.

LOL etc!

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