Wednesday, 27 February 2013

General Flashman remarks on the capacity of British prime ministers

. . . they took a cab to the famous club, where Sir Harry stared around the imposing hall and remarked that things weren’t what they had once been. ‘Saw Palmerston fall down that staircase — the whole damned way from top to bottom. Tight as a fiddler’s bitch. Finished up wrapped round that pillar there. Can’t see Asquith doing that, somehow. Rotten prime minister. D’you know, I presented him with a school prize once? Must be fifty years ago — ugly little swot he was then, and hasn’t improved over the years. Mind you, Balfour wouldn’t have been any better — “Pretty Fanny”, they used to call him. Only good thing I know about him was that he taught Asquith how to ride a bicycle. Argued some kind of capacity, I suppose — I’d sooner try to teach a whale to play the fiddle.’

Mr American, p.388, Pan Books, paperback edition 1982.

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