Thursday, 20 February 2020

PM’s life story by the book

PM’s life story by the book

Theresa May
Christ Church

WARM and expectant applause welcomed Theresa May and Dame Katherine Grainger to the stage of the Christ Church Centre. Sadly, the audience were destined to be disappointed.

The event was billed as a discussion of the books that had shaped our recent Prime Minister’s life, and I suspect there was not an audience member who did not know that Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was Mrs May’s choice of reading for a desert island stay. More surprising was the fact that she has read all of the Harry Potter books — which she loved— and less surprising Silent Spring, an early environmental work by Rachel Carson. A recent read was Cold Comfort Farm, the classic 1932 comic novel by Stella Gibbons.

Mrs May’s earliest book memory was of The Wool-Pack, a children’s historical novel by Cynthia Harnett that has long since fallen out of print. Dame Katherine was able to present Mrs May with a copy — a nice touch.

The daughter of a clergyman and raised in rural Oxfordshire, it came as no surprise that Mrs May’s library contains more than 150 cookery books.

Her birthday was the day after this talk, and asked what she would like to find inside a book-shaped package she said “another cookery book”.

Her love of cooking shone through, but asked what she would prepare for a typical dinner party for guests she listed a starter of crispy squid, a main of slow roasted lamb with garlic and rosemary, followed by a chocolate pudding.

With all those cookery books at her disposal, one might have expected something a little more imaginative!

Asked about her favourite villains — and here was a chance to put certain political colleagues and opponents in their place — there came the response “Lord Voldemort and Moriarty.”

It seems that Mrs May will not be following in the footsteps of fellow politicians like Ann Widdecombe and Edwina Currie, both of whom have written novels, and she says she has no intention — at least not yet — of writing her memoirs, having not kept a detailed diary.

The departing audience was left disappointed overall, with remarks like “laboured”, “dire” and, more amusingly, ‘Well, that’s another hour of our life we won’t get back.”

Sadly, those were the feelings of this correspondent too.

Geoff Luckett

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