In the news: Nicholas Soames: Happy eater with little appetite for humility or political correctness

AT THE END of delivering a series of rather bizarre ramblings in the Commons chamber on Wednesday afternoon, Nicholas Soames apologised for being a bore. But it was not him who was boring, but the debate, writes Clare Garner.

Maybe the overgrown schoolboy was just being mischievous. "Don't worry, I'll be just as indiscreet without the booze," he assured a journalist recently. Or maybe, as Richard Caborn, the Minister for the Regions, suggested, the former Food Minister was "a little emotional, if not a little tired" after a very good lunch.

The rotund Mr Soames, affectionately known as Bunter, Nickers, Fatty, Creepy Crawley and Crawley Food Mountain (after his former constituency, Crawley in Sussex), denied being drunk. He had pitched up at the Money Resolution in the Regional Development Agencies Bill after a "very small, abstemious lunch in the tea-room of the House", he insisted, adding: "My lunches consist of bananas, still water, preserved apricots and bats' droppings."

His performance was vintage stuff. "I remember a morning not long ago: a cold, damp, spring morning, after the House had been sitting all night. Regrettably, Madam Speaker, you were not in the Chair," he mused, before lamenting the absence of Dawn Primarolo: "It is a matter of regret to me that the Financial Secretary - a woman who, for whatever reason, commands the universal admiration of Conservative Members - is not in her place."

Betty Boothroyd gently guided him back to the "very limited" motion. "He is romanticising and taking me along with him, but I must attend to the business of the House," she said. Her mild ticking off, which was tempered by her closing remarks: "The Hon Gentleman is never a bore: he always has something interesting to say", was something of a replay. Only last November, she had to reprimand him for "crossing the floor" to chat to a female MoD official during Question Time. "Mr Soames! They may be pretty girls, but we don't do those things," she exclaimed.

To Mr Soames, the grandson of Winston Churchill, every day is "one big adventure". He believes in being himself - and if people don't like it they can "stuff it".

Mr Soames, 50, is a fierce defendant of country sports. He even referred to his new-born daughter, Isabella, as being the size of a decent salmon. He was "bone idle" at Eton, collecting seven 'O' Levels before entering the 11th Hussars. He considers Prince Charles his best friend and was his equerry from 1970 to 1972. Charles was best man at his wedding to the heiress Catherine Weatherall in 1981.

It is just as well Mr Soames has no truck with political correctness, because he is himself a sitting duck for fattist jokes. An anonymous woman said that making love to him was "like having a wardrobe fall on top of you with the key sticking out"; and an MP interrupted his tirade on the Millennium Dome to suggest: " You could have an exhibition inside your own underpants." Whatever else is levelled at him, one thing is sure: this man is anything but a bore.

APPETITE

"I'm a PG Wodehouse fan and I've always concentrated on Jeeves' miracle cure for hangovers, which is a raw egg, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and a glass of sherry, all in one go."

GULF WAR SYNDROME

Mr Soames commissioned the inquiry after he apologised to the Commons for misleading MPs on the widespread use of organophosphates in the Gulf war. Campaigners claim pesticides could have made more than 1,000 veterans ill. He has refused to resign.

THE BLACK DOG

"I do get melancholy now and again, but you go to bed, sleep well and wake up pawing the ground like a horse in the morning. My grandfather had this appalling thing, what they called the black dog in his life, but I don't suffer from that."

PRINCE CHARLES

"I admire his compassion, his humanity, his understanding, his humour. He's a painter, a gardener, an author. He's an incredibly hard worker, he won't just strike a pose or do something for the sake of short-term public approbation."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Life and Style
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst- Insurance

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Senior Business Analyst - Insurance ...

Recruitment Genius: Property Manager

£25000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This independent, growing Sales...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Multi-skilled graphic designer ...

Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solicitor

£30000 - £50000 per annum + EXCELLENT: Austen Lloyd: Court of Protection Solic...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches