Leading Article: Major Major: an example to us all

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JUST say no. One veto and suddenly the sun shines and your backbenchers are cheering. Lord Tebbit and Baroness Thatcher purr. The Prince of Wales and his elongated anguishes command all other attention. A good week, at last, for John Major.

Not such a good week for Mr Major's older brother, Terry, who celebrated his 62nd birthday yesterday. An old back injury has been giving him a bit of gyp. But he was not letting it get the better of him; last night he was planning a birthday outing to the Fairfield Halls, Croydon, to see Black Coffee, by Agatha Christie.

When interviewed, he had yet to receive a present from his brother. 'It's very nice when he does remember,' he said. We very much hope Mr Major did. For, in the midst of the general meretriciousness of a shallow, self-regarding time, Mr Major's brother represents something kinder, more solid, less frantic; the values, in fact, Mr Major was seeking to tap when he quoted Orwell's old maids and warm bitter.

He should have begun closer to home. Terry has known success and disaster in the garden ornament business, redundancy and vicarious fame; he has remained true to himself and unfailingly courteous to others. Fleet Street, to some surprise, has responded with the same courtesy. Next month sees the publication of Terry's family history, Major Major: Memories of an Elder Brother. He promises no revelations: he has never been ashamed to call himself or his life boring. 'We were all together, we were a family, and if you're together in a family, you can't really be unhappy. There's always something funny,' says Terry, who has been married to Shirley for nearly 35 years. Boring, perhaps, but wise, too. Many happy returns; hope the back gets better.

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