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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Down Memory Lane With Uncle Bob

Robert Graham Marshall-Andrews QC, MP for Medway and member of the Socialist Campaign Group is not exactly a political friend and confidante of mine. One of the most disruptive forces in Parliament, he has rebelled against the Government on no fewer than 134 separate occasions since 2001.

'Ey up, 'ave you 'eard the one about...
Bob enjoys a night out
But "Uncle Bob", as I know him, is always one to give me a rip-roaring good laugh. Never less so than on the night of the last election when he appeared on TV attacking TB for the policies that had led to his election defeat, shortly before discovering that he had in fact retained his seat. There are many tales I could tell of Uncle Bob, such as his jocular Parliamentary greeting of the happily married member of my union Amicus, Jim Dowd MP, as "Here's another faggot". A strange comment, coming from a transvestite.

What brought Uncle Bob to my attention this week was a piece he wrote recently in the handbook of the Wills Hall Association, of which he is a Patron. Bob preceded me by some 27 years as a resident of Wills Hall, the Bristol University hall of residence which was my home from 1990 to 1993. This pisses me off no end, because I can't see why a trouble-maker like Bob gets to be Patron of Wills Hall when a loyal Party servant like me only gets copies of the handbook and an annual invitation to the Reunion (and I only get those if Linda chases them up for me).

Wills Hall, for those who don't know about such things because they attended lesser educational institutes, was founded by the Bristolian tobacco magnates of the same name when they had a huff because their son didn't get into Oxford. My mum also threw a hissie fit when I failed to win a place at Oxford, but my family couldn't afford to build a hall of residence in my name, more's the pity.

Wills Hall is famous for quiet, retiring modest people like Bob and I, who get on with their jobs with the modicum of fuss and refrain from becoming overly conspicuous. Alumni Guest of Honour at last year's Reunion was Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Sir Liam Donaldson Msc, MD, FRCS(Ed), FFPHM, FRCP, FRCP(Ed), FMedSci, FRCA. I'm still hopeful for an invite next year.

But back to Bob. In his article he reveals his Trot-fighting past:

"I joined the Party in 1971 and stood for Parliament in 1974 in Richmond ... At that stage, the Party went walk-about - it was heavily infiltrated with Trots and it became almost impossible for someone like me to get a seat. I was on the shortlist for Battersea South in 1976.

The first question - after I'd made what I thought was a passable left-wing pitch - was from a man with a Che Guevara moustache, who stood up and said "What's a middle class w**ker like you think you can do for the people of Battersea South?"
I plan to wear this when I meet the Pope
Bob impersonates The Great Leader

This really resonated with me. People in Hackney are always asking me a similar question, although I don't quit politics over such trivial little people and their working class views.

...and this a******e is going to be the next PM?
Bob is tickled pink by one of Gordon's anecdotes
I just ignore them usually, or sometimes refer to their peasant upbringing. That usually shuts them up. In Bob's case, however, he took umbrage and decided to quit and leave politics to Che.

Fortunately for the lefties and unfortunately for the rest of us, Neil Kinnock met up with Uncle Bob at a rugger match and not only persuaded him to get back into politics but converted him into a left-winger.

So we've Pillock to thank for the disruptive b*****d whom we now see repeatedly nominated for Spectator Parliamentarian of The Year.

Enough about Uncle Bob's politics. The reason I sat down to write this post was that reading his article brought back waves of nostalgia for my alma mater and for Wills in particular. I've put together a little photo pastiche, so that those of you whose academic CV includes Brooke House Sixth Form College and London Metropolitan University can see what college life was like for those of us who are more privileged. Those who failed to reach even that ant hill of a pinnacle won't understand the Latin phrase "alma mater", so you can just look at the pretty pictures instead.

...Bristol University, not dissimilar to...

Hackney Community College

The quadrangle at Wills Hall

The courtyard at Hackney Community College

A game of squash to relax after a tutorial...

...and a jolly game of tennis at the weekend

A great place to enjoy a glass or two of Bolly...

...before luncheon is served in the Grand Dining Hall

Although I'm not really religious...

...I could always hide from Muslims in the chapel

I enjoyed wandering the gardens in contemplation...

...of the plight of the poor urban working classes

Me and my very, very best friend in all the world Clive at the Bristol University Wills Hall ’92 Summer Ball,
looking forward to a Labour Party life dedicated to service of the working class


Ethel Barracuda said...

Hackney Community College looks very nice. I had no idea there were such pleasant gardens behind Falkirk Street, nor that there were squash and tennis courts there, let alone a nice chapel in which to pray for decent exam results.

wan kin (socialist) said...

Don't get too attached to them, Ethel. Hackney Council has them tagged to be sold off to private developers for high density housing in the near future.