Fringe Box



Ockhamite Diary: When Churchill Joined the Mafia & A Prophet Made a Profit

Published on: 18 Nov, 2022
Updated on: 20 Nov, 2022

A sidelong glance at the world from Tony Edwards…

Winston who?

I wasn’t surprised to read this week that while well over half of Britain’s over 65s admire Winston Churchill, only 20 per cent of our 18-to-24-year-olds have a positive view of the man who made a stand against Hitler and defeated Fascism.

Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education and an advisor to the Department of Education, wasn’t surprised either. He says it’s because the schools curriculum no longer requires the teaching of Winston Churchill or WWI or WWII so it’s “a victory for the mob.”

Bust of Sir Winston at The Savoy

Despite being voted the greatest Briton of all time just twenty years ago, Churchill has since been all but air-brushed out of the history books – as demonstrated at a press reception I staged in the Pinafore Room at the Savoy a short while back.

An ‘Ali G’ look-alike turned-up from a youth TV network, completely ignored the jeans I was promoting and focussed, instead, on a bronze bust of the great man, on a pedestal, in the far corner of the room.

Marlo Brando in The Godfather

“Ee’s an actor – right?” declared the young man, patting Sir Winston on the head. “I know ee’s face from in da movies, innit.”

There was a short pause for thought before a look of recognition dawdled across his face. “For real,” he said. “Ee woz dat heavy dude in Da Godfather.”

Yeah, right. Easy to get confused. Churchill and Brando’s Don Corleoni both smoked Havana cigars.

Second-hand profits for a book about a prophet

Second-hand copies of a novel I penned nearly twenty years ago – and has been out of print for the past few years – are currently fetching more than ten times their original cover price of £6-99p in the USA.

Worth ten times more second hand

That may sound like very good news but it’s not – trust me. Authors only receive a royalty fee for their books when they’re first sold. They receive nothing at all when they are re-sold in the second-hand book market.

The novel in question is called Wilson Lacigam’s Bentley. It tells the tale of a property developer who is persuaded to fund a PR campaign to launch a modern-day Messiah to a world in which prefabricated fame is the key to celebrity stardom and where prophets compete with pop stars for popularity.

The book, which attempts to explain the universal rules of life and death, has become something of a mini cult in parts of America. But if I’d known its second-hand value was going to rocket to these ridiculous levels, I’d have invested in a couple of thousand copies at £6.99p, hot off the press, put them in storage for twenty years and then sold them, second-hand, for a whopping 1,000 per cent profit.

The political jungle

Yvette Cooper wore her ‘disgusted-of-Tunbridge-Wells’ face again last week as she did the rounds of the TV studios to slag-off Matt Hancock for joining the jungle inmates on I’m a Celebrity. She says he should make up his mind if he’s an MP or a national joke.

Personally, I think he’s managed to combine both roles quite well so far, while Pixie Cooper seems unable even to decide on the definition of a woman. “I’m not going down that rabbit hole,” she repeatedly tells the press when asked. (No – I’m not sure what she means by that either.)

Meanwhile, I can exclusively reveal that Matt is leaving the jungle for an urgent dental appointment in Harley Street – where he’ll be having a wisdom tooth put in.

Rishi’s mystery digit

I’m worried about Rishi Sunak. It’s not just that his name is an anagram of Hi-risk Anus or that, at 5’-7”, our new leader is precisely the same height as some other world leaders like Emmanuel Macron, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong Un and Ukraine’s Volodymir Zelensky. That could simply be a coincidence.

I’m not even unduly concerned that the PM always wears dark Savile Row suits with the trousers at half-mast, showing off the £490 Prada shoes, or that he parts his hair on the left. Lots of seriously rich men have expensive tastes and opt for a left parting.

Sunak’s index finger, raised and ready to rule the world

No – what’s been worrying me is his right hand or, more specifically, his right index finger.

Viewed on its own, the digit in question doesn’t warrant a second glance. But if you trawl through the TV news footage of Sunak’s speeches since he was elevated to the Tory front bench, you’ll notice that he regularly prods the air in front of him with that right index finger. It’s almost a ritual.

And it’s always the same. He steps resolutely on to the stage, grips the sides of the podium and begins his speech with a broad, almost robotic smile.

Inspired by ET?

But then he raises his right hand and jabs his index finger at the audience for no obvious reason. He did it this week at the G7 summit.

It could be a trick of the light but I feel sure the tip of the Sunak finger glows, which is why I’m drawn to the inevitable conclusion that Rishi is a being from another galaxy – one of a growing band of five feet, seven inch leaders who are planning to take over the world.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Kier Starmer (an Earthly 5’-8”) confronts Rishi at next Wednesday’s PMQs with questions about ETgate and his forthcoming bid for world domination.

Sexist biscuits?

This really takes the biscuit. Morrisons have banned the traditional “Gingerbread Man” from their supermarkets after irate customers complained.

Now, in the cause of “inclusivity”, the biscuit has been re-branded a “Gingerbread Person”.

But while Morrisons shelf labels use the new politically correct term, the packets still display the name “Gingerbread Man”.

This gingerbread man madness once again confirms that we live in an age when the nation’s sanity is being silenced so that stupid people won’t be offended. And that illustrates the fundamental difference between animals and humans.

Animals would never allow the thickest among them to become leaders of the pack.

OAP Judges go back to work

Retired judges are grabbing their Zimmer frames and shuffling back to the high court benches following a call from the Ministry of Justice.

Newspaper reports this week say the pensioner army has been mobilised to slash the record backlog of court cases – and that most of them are in their late 70s.

Peter Cook – a high court judge if only he’d had the Latin

It reminded me of the 1960s Beyond the Fringe comedy sketch in which Peter Cook explained why he’d become a coal miner rather than a high court judge.

It went something like this: “I’ve always wanted to be a judge but I never had the Latin so I decided to become a coal miner instead. You don’t need the Latin down the mines but you do have to watch out for lumps of falling coal.

“And they make you retire from coal mining when you become old, frail, and a bit soft in the head while exactly the opposite is true with judges. That’s another reason why I wanted to be a judge.”

The mandatory retirement age for judges rose from 70 to 75 in March while, in October, retired judges were allowed to apply to return to work.

But coal miners were, of course, largely pensioned-off years ago by Maggie Thatcher so Peter Cook’s comedy fiction has become a not-so-funny reality.

Perhaps we should remember that judges are merely potential coal miners who managed to get the Latin and now wear long robes and wigs instead of helmets with lamps on.

Autumn ‘Budget’ review

I’ve listened to Jeremy Hunt’s autumn review, tuned in to the TV news reports which followed, and spoken at length with my accountant.

So, in case you missed it, here’s my review of the autumn budget.

We’re all going to end up totally skint… broke, bust, potless, brassic, up-the-Swanee, cleaned-out, strapped-for-cash, victims of reversed liquidity and suffering a shortfall in assets with a negative cash flow.

Just thought you ought to know.

Tooth Fairy economics

A third of children have never sent or received a hand-written letter, according to Dinah Johnson, boss of The Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society. She says almost seven-in-ten kids have never even written to the Tooth Fairy.

And that reminded me about a friend’s young daughter who wrote a fairly longish letter to the Tooth Fairy, outlining a suggested payment plan after she’d received £1 in return for a front tooth.

“I’ve got lots of other teeth,” she explained. “So could you pay me for all of them now and I’ll leave them for you when they fall out?”

That sounded like a scaled-down Equity Release plan to me. The kid could go far.

Thought for the day

Why does someone who can kick a ball into a net the size of a two-car garage become a national hero?

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Responses to Ockhamite Diary: When Churchill Joined the Mafia & A Prophet Made a Profit

  1. George Potter Reply

    November 18, 2022 at 11:48 am

    Winston Churchill, and the teaching of WW1 and WW2, are absolutely parts of the national curriculum, so I do have to ask where Mr Edwards has got this sort of nonsense from.

    It might be unfashionable amongst certain circles, but basic fact-checking really isn’t difficult. And it certainly shouldn’t be an unreasonable expectation for someone who clearly enjoys opining on the sanity of society as a whole.

    George Potter is the Lib Dem Borough Councillor for Burpham

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    November 19, 2022 at 7:11 am

    Fact-checked or not, I always enjoy Tony Edward’s contributions.

    The musings of highly opinionated councillors, less so.

    Tony has done far more for the cause of climate change, with his opposition to a new town at Wisley, than our newly appointed climate tzar has ever done.

    Perhaps if he got on with his job, rather than wasting time criticising and insulting residents, he may make a little progress.

    • Sara Tokunaga Reply

      November 19, 2022 at 1:16 pm

      Excellent riposte!

  3. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    November 19, 2022 at 9:21 am

    A bit of history –



    Juky 2013 – “Winston Churchill will be restored to the national curriculum as schools are ordered to teach children about Britain’s history.

    The national curriculum for history, to be published by Education Secretary Michael Gove next week, will give all children aged seven to 14 a clear narrative of the major events between the Bronze Age and the present day.”

    “British institutions: Figures such as Henry VIII and Winston Churchill will be reinstated onto the history syllabus, which will be published next week. British history will take a more prominent role on the curriculum

    Mr Gove is insisting that pupils learn about leading historical figures such as Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Oliver Cromwell and Queen Victoria.”

    Another side of Churchill not widely known, –
    “Churchill made numerous statements which have been described as racist, and his critics have alleged that his personal views on race played a part in various decisions he made throughout his life; these include his response to the Bengal famine of 1943.
    Bengal famine. –
    “During World War II, Churchill prioritised the stockpiling of food for Britain over feeding Indian subjects during the Bengal famine of 1943,[54][55] against the pleas made by Secretary of State for India, Leo Amery and the Viceroy of India, Lord Linlithgow, but eventually eased the famine by directing shipments of grains to India from Australia.[56][57] The famine resulted in the death of up to three million Indians, which Shashi Tharoor and Madhusree Mukerjee have blamed on Churchill’s response.”

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