Although this blog's name is inspired by Sauti Kubwa ("Big Voice"), the late lead singer of Rumba Japan, a band that played in Nairobi in the early years of this century, it won't focus unduly on Swahili nicknames, rumba music or indeed any other African issues.


Friday, 18 June 2010

Edward Heath and Jeremy Thorpe

According to Reuters (in a book review today), "the 1980s are back in vogue". Not at Sauti Ndogo HQ they're not, as I'm more interested in the 1970s.

Philip Ziegler's authorized biography of Edward Heath has just been published. An excellent review
by Robert Harris describes it as "the most damning official biography of a British prime minister ever written".

I met Heath in 1975 or 1976 when he came to speak to my school's political debating society and about half-a-dozen of us had dinner with him afterwards. Curiously, I remember very little about the evening. The only thing I recall him talking about at the dinner table was a (no doubt well-worn) anecdote about the IRA bomb attack on his house (in December 1974 - he was not at home at the time).

Harris sums him up well: "Britain has had some odd characters as its prime minister, but few, as Ziegler makes plain in this elegant, compelling and devastating study, were quite as odd as Ted Heath."

Next week will see the 31st anniversary of a day I remember well: the acquittal on a charge of conspiracy to murder of another oddball 1970s character: Jeremy Thorpe.

Among the oddities of that scandal (such a good one, it spoilt us for the future) were Thorpe's three unlikely co-defendants (including one John Le Mesurier - part-owner of a South Wales carpet shop, not the Dad's Army star).

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