The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold: A privilege to trade in that sun-soaked land

Share
Related Topics
I GENERALLY try to leaven this column with a little 'humour'. I have, as you may have noticed, a soft spot for the pun, and my rib-tickling 'Names That Make Me Chuckle' slot (Mr Spade, a gardener from Chiswick, has recently been brought to my attention]]]), continues to run in the Sunday Express after 33 chucklesome years. But this morning the matter I wish to touch upon is, alas, too grave for the offhand jest. Much as one would like life to be all swings, it is occasionally smitten with roundabouts, too.

Deep breath, Wallace, deep breath. You may have read that Sir David Steel last week took the unusual step of naming 'Sir Tim Bell, Mr Steve Tipping, Mr Mark Thatcher and Mr Wallace Arnold' in the House of Commons as 'members of Lady Thatcher's close circle' who 'were caught up in the brokerage of the Pergau dam project'.

I regret to say I have had to pen a strong letter to Sir David Steel seeking a retraction. To set the matter straight, I reprint that letter here:

'Dear Mr Steel, Your speech in Parliament yesterday contained a number of ill-advised and inaccurate statements.

'I am indeed a close friend of Lady Thatcher, having been responsible for much of the humorous content in her recent memoirs. I am proud to count among my close personal friends the other three individuals to whom you referred. It is an open secret that I was responsible for the marketing of the wedding of Mr Mark Thatcher and the distribution of franchises resulting therefrom, including the merchandising of the Mark Thatcher Gold Wristwatch, the Mark Thatcher Wok, and the exclusive Mark Thatcher Executive Desktop Supergun. Mr Steve Tipping is an associate chairman of Tipping Arnold Enterprises plc, which specialises in First World aid schemes, fighting to protect the rights of the overprivileged for the challenge of the 21st century.

'Sir Tim Bell, I might add, is one of my closest confidants: it was through me that he was first introduced to Mark Thatcher who in turn introduced him to Steve Tipping who informed him that there would be someone well worth his while meeting on the qt before introducing him to me. The four of us have remained close associates ever since, meeting in top-secret sessions at least three times a week.

'The above information should prove beyond all doubt that there was absolutely no 'conflict of interest' surrounding my chairmanship of The Gratuities Advisory Council to the Government of Malaysia, and any such imputation may seriously jeopardise future commissions vital to British industry, among them the North Sea Dam Project and the Docklands Traction-Engine Development Board. Already, the villagers of Duncton in Sussex are getting cold feet about our Under-Fives Nursery Playground (Nuclear Waste Disposal) Scheme, and their unfounded fears concerning this project can be laid directly at your feet. I urge you to retract, and to ameliorate our distress with a cheque or postal order to my pet charity, The Thatcher Foundation (Used Number Plates for Sports Cars Appeal). Yours ever . . .'

I reprint this letter as further proof of my innocence. Malaysia has long been a loyal friend to this country of ours, and I have been privileged to trade with the plucky Malaysians for the past 20-odd years. When last I travelled to that sun-soaked land with Mark Thatcher, it did not in the least surprise me that ordinary peasant folk and government ministers alike treated him with a respect more usually reserved for the deity: indeed, more than 5 million Malaysian schoolchildren daily recite the (albeit rather short) list of Mark's O- and A- level results, and Mark has established itself as the most popular baby's name throughout Malaysia, parents believing that it will bring them a healthy government grant.

One further word. Far from being the fascist state that the tabloid press have tried to paint it, Malaysia is one of the most liberal countries in the world, its cells for political prisoners all fully fitted with round-the-clock electricity and first- aid facilities, and only the most meddlesome of busy-bodies disappearing at dead of night. In fact, Sir Tim's catchy new tourist slogan says it all: 'Very Mark Thatcher, very Malaysia'. Touche, Steel]

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: The campaigning is over. So now we wait...

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
In this handout provided by NASA from the the Earth-orbiting International Space Station, weather system Arthur travels up the east coast of the United States in the Atlantic Ocean near Florida in space. The robotic arm of the Space Station Remote Manipulator System or Canadarm2 is seen at upper right. According to reports, Arthur has begun moving steadily northward at around 5 kt. and the tropical storm is expected to strike the North Carolina Outer Banks  

Thanks to government investment, commercial space travel is becoming a reality

Richard Branson
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
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