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Laurence Inman’s Blog

NO EXPENSE SPARED

21-05-2009

Mr Speaker

Nick Drake and MP's expenses. And Laurence Inman’s usual incomparable wit. You lucky people.

I attended a very special and beautiful concert at the Town Hall last Saturday.

Way To Blue – The Songs of Nick Drake: English Originals was performed by Beth Orton, Graham Coxon, Camille O’Sullivan, Vashti Bunyan, Robyn Hitchcock, Neil MacColl and the superb Martha Wainwright.

Joe Boyd, his original producer, was the MC. Danny Thompson, who was the bass player on the legendary recordings nearly forty years ago, featured in the backing band.

Nick Drake died in 1974, aged only 26. It might have been suicide. He couldn’t cope with the ordinary world and became a recluse, nesting in a room of his parental home in Tanworth. His ashes are buried near an oak tree in the graveyard of St Mary in the village.

Only three albums, comprising thirty-one tracks.

But once you’ve heard them they never leave you alone.

Back to sordid politics.

I have a number of urgent questions about this expenses ‘scandal.’ They may mark me out as being hopelessly naive, but I’d still like them answered.

Why have they got rid of Michael Martin ? Just because he shouted at someone ? Or is it perhaps a diversion ?

Why can’t all MPs who have constituencies more than, say, thirty miles from Westminster live in a specially-built big hotel (or barracks) and go home at the weekend ? I don’t mind paying their train fare. It would avoid all the possibilities of fraud we’ve been hearing about, and ensure that only people who really want to do the job would apply, instead of toffs who regard it as a natural progression after Eton, Oxford, the Guards, Whitehall....and who see nothing wrong in lying to the people of Twiddle-on-the-Twaddle, or Gashington East, to get what they want.

Why isn’t claiming money for a mortgage you’ve already paid off some sort of offence ?

Is it enough to say ‘It was a mistake. I’ve paid it back. I deeply regret it.’

Or, as one said this week: ‘It was an error and I very much regret getting caught up in it.’

Three words too many there, mate.

I might try that if I’m ever up on a charge of armed robbery.

‘Sorry Your Honour. Really, really sorry. If I’d known this would happen, being prosecuted and everything, I would never have got caught up in it.’

‘Yes, but you waved a shotgun about in that bank, frightening everybody half to death.’

‘What can I say ? I deeply regret it. I’ve paid nearly all of it back, and I won’t do it again. You really need to toughen the rules up a bit. In a way, you asked for it.’

‘Oh all right. I’m a fool to myself sometimes, but I suppose you were a good fag at Winchester. Off you go.’

Next case: Sharlene Chav, charged with nicking two lamb-chops from Iceland, six months.

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