Andy McSmith's Diary: George Osborne’s tears - a sight for sore eyes


Just when a large number of people had come to doubt it, it transpired that the Chancellor George Osborne is, in fact, human. A camera caught him at the funeral with tears in his eyes and a tear stain down his cheek.

It is not uncommon to see someone weep at a funeral, but Mr Osborne had less reason than many of the other mourners to experience a personal sense of loss, because he had little direct contact with Lady Thatcher. He was a 19-year-old university student when she left office. However, one experience which seems to have made an impression was taking his young son to meet the former Prime Minister.

The Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, told the congregation a story about a nine-year-old boy who wrote to Mrs Thatcher to ask whether she was as perfect as Jesus, to which she sent a handwritten reply. A camera shot of the audience showed David and Samantha Cameron laughing at this anecdote, while behind them the Chancellor was crying – possibly because it prompted a memory of when the Lady met his son. When the ceremony was over, the Chancellor tweeted that it had been “a moving, almost overwhelming day”.

Whipping up a storm with  ice cream story

And excellent though the Bishop’s sermon was, it included one anecdote – an innocuous one – which was simply not true.

He claimed that when working as a scientist, young Margaret Roberts – as she then was – was “part of the team that invented Mr Whippy ice cream”.

This story has been around for a while, based on the fact that Ms Roberts was employed by J. Lyons, where it is thought that her work involved ice cream. But it did not involve Mr Whippy, which was developed by Lyons’s rival, Wall’s.

* Of all the thoughts put out via social media, this one, from that irrepressible and off-the-planet commentator Melanie Phillips is in a class of its own: “Finding it hard not to feel we are today somehow burying England.”

Suits you, sir. Savile Row tailors are kept busy

Dege & Skinner, bespoke Savile Row tailors and shirt makers, have been through several hectic days with MPs and other funeral guests ringing up in a panic because they had taken the moth balls off their old morning suits only to find that they no longer fit. Some of the regulars have had bespoke suits delivered to their door by car. No one, they say, was turned away disappointed.

Royal funeral directors’ fine state of affairs

The official line was that this was not a state funeral, however much it looked like one. But the same funeral directors would have been used had it been one. A spokeswoman for Leverton & Sons said: “We have been funeral directors to the Lord Chamberlain’s office since 1991. They organise funerals on behalf of the Royal Family. I don’t know whether they organise political funerals or whether we were involved because it was more like a state funeral.”

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