The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes

Politics and law from a British perspective (hence Politics LAW BloG): ''People who like this sort of thing...'' as the Great Man said

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Sunday, August 24, 2003

Hutton: A classic English comedy character is born...

The Hutton transcripts fall, it seems to me, into three categories:

  1. the vital - Alastair Campbell's, for instance - full of intrinsic interest, but over-demanding in concentration;

  2. the worthy but dull - the Horlicks sessions [1] - with the MOD guys, for instance - where the greyness of both men and material tend to the soporific, and neither are, perhaps, of the first importance in the case;

  3. the light relief.

Into this last category comes Donald Anderson, Chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, the first body to have a crack at investigating the matter.

Physically, the guy makes little impression: oldish, bald and Welsh, speaking with none of the music of the Welsh voice - think Richard Burton narrating Under Milk Wood - save a sort of vestigial whining quality. To get the humour of the transcript, I wouldn't use his voice in your mind's ear at all.

What you want is something like the voice of John Major. Because, in his attitudes, he struck me as nothing if not a cross between Mr Pooter and Captain Mainwaring. And his interlocutors are suitable dry in their responses.

To give extracts would spoil the effect. No gags or one-liners, but several outright LOL moments.


  1. A bedtime drink made with boiled milk, popular in the UK in the mid 20th century. (The recollection of the smell of boiled milk alone triggers nausea.) Jack Straw referred to the dodgy dossier as a Horlicks. One of those very British - Horlicks-era - euphemisms for swear-words. Horlicks sounds like bollocks - hence, cock-up. There's also basket for bastard - and others I can't recall off the top of the head.

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