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."

News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
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

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...

Teaching Assistant for KS1 & KS2 Huddersfield

£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...

Primary Teaching Supply

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Day In a Page

These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

The fall of Rome?

Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
Glasgow girl made good

Glasgow girl made good

Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
The landscape of my imagination

The landscape of my imagination

Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories