Only In Britain
When John Major was Prime Minister the woman who ran Chequers followed a strict routine. One evening John Major was watching television at 10 o'clock in the evening when this woman walked in and switched off the television because it was time to shut the house down for the night.
I found this story in the published diaries of the wife of Ivor Richard who was Blair's first Leader of the House of Lords. Apparently Major protested that he was quite capable of turning the TV off himself but I infer from this that he didn't complain about the general principle of being told to go to bed.
I can't imagine the political leader of any other country being treated in such a way.
Although the book doesn't make it clear, I gather this woman - the wonderfully named Miss Uff - was an employee of the National Trust. This is all too believable. She had probably graduated from being one of those National Trust ladies who sit in the rooms of grand houses and look at you as though you've come to steal the silver.
It seems the great and the good who made up the Chequers Trustees spent much time discussing the problem of what to do about Miss Uff. They no doubt feared that if she switched off the TV when the Blairs were watching News at Ten Cherie might pin her to the wall and in her best Scouse call her a stuck-up no mark.
I'll return to this book which anyone but a political anorak would find extremely tedious. Indeed, a lot of it is extremely tedious. But it does give some interesting insights. Most political diaries are written by politicians themselves but this one records the daily political tittle-tattle told to a wife over the dinner table and is therefore more revealing.